Hmm… I’m having a little trouble getting excited about the $220 million the new federal transportation bill includes for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct. On the one hand, we weren’t expecting anything, and every little bit helps. On the other hand… what a bunch of fucking cheapskates.
The federal money represents 5 to 8 percent of the total cost of the project. By comparison, $220 million is less than .08 percent of the $286 billion total the bill sends to states… or to put it another way, about 2.4 percent of the roughly $9 billion in unaccounted for cash that was stuffed into duffle bags in Iraq. Nice to know we have our priorities straight.
I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but let’s be honest, if a double-decker freeway was on the verge of pancaking a couple hundred Texans, there’d be a billion or more in federal dollars thrown at the project. And of course, if I-912 repeals the gas tax hike, then we can kiss even our paltry $220 million goodbye.
A lot of people are playing up the potential loss of this money as a selling point for defeating I-912, but I’m wondering if that argument might be counterproductive. Judging from some of the nastier emails and comments I’ve received lately, there are many in Eastern WA who would be absolutely giddy over the chance to deny Seattlites a couple hundred million in federal aid. Hell… there are some folk out there who could absolutely give a shit about whether the Viaduct collapses, a sentiment that was clearly expressed in the following missive from “James” with the fake email address:
“… I hope it comes down during rush hour. A few hundred dead liberals might make the difference in the next election.”
I suppose “James” thought he was being funny, and I certainly wouldn’t argue that all I-912 supporters are such total and complete assholes. But a comment like this is just more evidence that this has become an emotional issue, not a rational one, and that we don’t have a chance of defeating I-912 merely on the basis of sound public policy arguments. We need to start making it clear to people in Eastern WA, and other rural voters, exactly what they’re going to lose if I-912 passes. And I’m not just talking about the specific local transportation projects that the gas tax hike is intended to fund. I’m talking about what they risk losing in the future: our good will.
If they want to balkanize state transportation funding, fine. Because while King, Pierce and Snohomish counties have the majority of the infrastructure needs, we also own the vast majority of the state’s wealth, and in the short run, Seattle voters have the most to gain from spending all gas tax dollars locally. Ironically, if I were to seriously run an initiative that requires transportation revenues to be spent locally, its most fervent supporters would come from Eastern WA. What a bunch of dumb fucks.
But while we’re on the subject, why just balkanize transportation dollars? Let’s devolve the state portion of the property tax to local school districts, and let that money be spent locally too. After all, it’s not my problem if some poor kid out in Ferry County get’s a crappy education. If parents can’t afford private tuition, that just represents a moral failing on their part, doesn’t it?
I mean really… why should I give shit about you people if you don’t give a shit about me? Hell, I only drive east of the pass once or twice a year, and if the roads on the other side fall apart, I’ll just borrow or rent an SUV for those occasional excursions. So go ahead… split the state in two… divide King County between rural and urban… drop your taxes, raise your Confederate flags, and collapse into the ranks of a third-world economy. We’ll just sip our microbrews and lattes and laugh… before we buy up anything left of value, until all of Eastern WA is comprised of little more than the quaint vineyards and gentleman-ranches of dot.com millionaires.
See… we didn’t so much mind subsidizing the schools that educate your children and the roads you drive on and the ports that bring your products to market, until you started pissing on us in return. The Viaduct and the 520 bridge are crucial to our economy, and we’re going to rebuild them, with or without you… but if it’s without you, then Katie bar the door, because you’ll have driven me and a whole bunch of other urban voters firmly into the “fuck you” camp. And you know what? There’s more of us than there are of you… so prepare to be fucked.
And one more thing… nothing tastes better than a firm, crisp, tangy New Zealand braeburn apple… so hell if I’m going to continue buying mealy, WA state, storage apples out-of-season, simply out of some misplaced sense of loyalty. So there.