Senator Tom Coburn (R, Oklahoma) put an interesting suggestion to the Senate floor yesterday. He wanted money earmarked for a bridge in Alaska to be transferred to rebuilding a bridge over Lake Pontchartrain that was damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Naturally, this proposal got nowhere. Hardly anyone in Congress wants to reopen the porkpot or examine earmarks on a cost-benefit basis. If that happens in Alaska it could happen in other states too, and then where would we be?
Why not try a market solution instead. The bridge doesn't really go nowhere. It goes to an Alaskan island with 50 residents. Why not pay those 50 people to agree that they don't want the bridge. There is currently a perfectly decent ferry service, and the bridge is to cost $220 million - which means at least twice that. How much money do they want? Would a million dollars each persuade them that they don't need the bridge?
Of course, the problem with this is that other Americans might start asking why residents of one small island in Alaska were being paid a million dollars apiece . . .