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Nature_and_Environment.106

Transportation

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{Nature_and_Environment.106.1}: ... {wren1111} Tue, 03 Mar 2009 23:19:48 CST (26 lines)
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<b>Highway to hell revisited</b>
"http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/72d92dd6-0502-11de-8166-000077b07658.html"

<i>“History reminds us,” President Barack Obama told both houses of
the US Congress on Tuesday night, “that at every moment of economic
upheaval and transformation, this nation has responded with bold
action and big ideas.” By “the nation”, Mr Obama means “the
government”. We can tell by the episodes he uses to make his point:
the establishment of universal public education, the GI Bill of
Rights and – alluded to but not named – the Highway Act of 1956, at
the time of its passage the largest public works project in US
history.

Mr Obama’s praise for the Highway Act is disturbing. In arguments
over his stimulus package and his preliminary budget released on
Thursday, Republicans have made the lazy assumption that government
intervention in the economy can never succeed. Mr Obama shows signs
of the opposite error – believing it can never fail.

The Highway Act probably has more defenders than detractors. But Mr
Obama should be among the latter. The act, which budgeted $25bn in
federal money to build 41,000 miles of motorway, exacerbated the
very problems Mr Obama has been most eager to solve – spoliation of
the environment, dependence on foreign oil, overburdening of state
and local budgets, abandonment of the inner-city poor and reckless
speculation in real-estate development, to name a few.

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