During the first presidential debate, John McCain once again made reference to the Northern Divide Grizzly Bear Project, a five-year study to which USGS has allocated $3 million to “study the DNA of bears.”
The Scientific American article linked above compares that $3 million, and its relative merits, to the $233 million “Bridge to Nowhere.” I like to compare it to the tax dollars we are spending in Iraq. At $7 billion per month, we spend $3 million ever EIGHTEEN MINUTES.
Read that again. Fix it in your mind. Now tell me where the outrage should lie.
Sure, “freedom and democracy” in Iraq are more important than the North American grizzly population, but normalized for cost, I would say that the Iraq War campaign — which originally was not about “freedom and democracy,” but rather WMDs; how quickly we forget and reset the bar — is a monumentally greater waste of taxpayer dollars. We’ve spent $600 billion chasing a dragon that was never there, and continuously re-rationalizing our reasons for doing it. If you have any intellectual honesty at all, you should be outraged about that.
The bear DNA reference so often quoted by McCain is just another distraction that he’s so good at inventing. Again, fake outrage, misplaced priorities. Part and parcel of modern politicking.
At the end of the day, the grizzly bear project still costs $3 million over five years, and it will tell us something important about the distribution of and conservation status of the greatest (remaining) land mammal in North America. Also over five years, the Iraq war has cost some $600 billion — for the sake of comparison, that is two hundred thousand times as expensive as the grizzly bear project over the same time period — and we never accomplished our originally stated goal of ferreting out WMDs, and even Plan B, “freedom and democracy”, has been outrageously mismanaged, and may only now be seeing any fruits. Given that four of those five years were wasted on the Bush-Rumsfeld plan (which made the project five times as expensive as it could have been), you know where your outrage should lie.
BTW, did you know that the Gravina Island Bridge (the so-called Bridge to Nowhere), was a two-part project, one involving the bridge, and the other involving an access road that linked the bridge to a small airport? The bridge project got nixed, but a contract for the access road had already been signed, so it got built. Yes, it got built, and it goes nowhere. It dead-ends at the island coast where the bridge should connect to it. And it cost…wait for it, wait for it…$3 million per mile! At eight miles long, that project is eight times as expensive as the whole grizzly bear project. And, yes, it is indeed a road to nowhere.
Your tax dollars at work, folks. And guess who was governor and who could have nixed the contract on the access road and prevented that absurd waste of federal tax dollars? You guessed right. Our girl, Sarah Palin.
So tell me again, where should your outrage lie?
A propos: my friend Sakshi points out on her blog that McCain voted for funding the grizzly bear project!