Friday, August 03, 2007

Urbs et Terra


Fat Phil English doesn't like to pay for stuff. Put it in context; hates Southwest Airline's policy of charging Fat Phil extra when his extra folds fold over his neighbor's arm rest, but loves Mickie D's dollar menu. (Biggie size that bitch, sez Fat Phil English). You'd think a fat man like Fat Phil English would appreciate the concept of a strong bridge, or public transit systems with no surcharge for his wandering panis. But up in the wilds of Pennsylvania, Fat Phil is just representing his constituency; and his constituency don't like no tollin roads neither.

Fat Phil's northern tier, the badlands surrounding I 80, feel no obligation to pay for the ribbon of highway bisecting their shitty little hamlets. They feel very strongly that such things should be free, and if they aint free, someone else should pay for them. Of course, as all debates in Pennsylvania, this is framed as a challenge to their 'economic viability.'

We city slickers of course disagree. The economic argument sounds absurd. If tolls were such an economic disincentive, then why is Carlisle, PA booming as a transit hub on a toll road? The fact that Williamsport isn't on the short-list of Fortune 500 relocation destinations has nothing to do with I-80 being free. It just so happens that traffic en-route to NYC or Chicago may find the verdant blur outside their windshield appealing, but ultimately think it better to spend their cash a little further down the line. Turns out that population centers attract capital in a globalized economy because companies ultimately need educated workforces, available supply chains, and other infrastructure provided only by larger cities. In short, Muncie is no longer economically viable.

Populism may be effective, as a lacky of Rick Santorum would well know, but such strategies are shortsighted and lazy. Thank you, Fat Phil English, for showing that fat lazy populism has a fat lazy face.

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