Carolina cronyism

American politicians persist in meddling with projects that should not concern them—or us, the people whose money is confiscated to pay for them. We expect this unrelenting spending other-people’s-money (OPM) from “progressives” and cultural Marxists to further visions of government-run social justice projects. But we don’t expect our more rational elected officials to also wrap themselves in banners of bungling boondoggles. Yet they, too, often can’t resist the lure of wasteful spending hoping to further their quests for power.

Jim Tynen at the Raleigh, North Carolina-based Civitas Institute ( reports a classic example: “Light-Rail Boondoggle.” This obsolete “19th-century technology” seems to be a “politically irresistible” proposition for some of our State politicos.

Granted, it’s fun and exciting for some people to ride on trains, but they never justify the high costs. They require vast amounts of public money diverted from real transportation needs. They benefit very few people at the expense of many who have no use for them—the definition of most government spending cronyism.

As Mr. Tynen describes it this proposal will require $1.6 Billion (predictably much more) for a short 17 mile run from the Chapel Hill, N. C. exurbs to urban Durham, N. C. in the Triangle Area of the Tar Heel State.  I suspect liberal elites at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill are behind this. They love the idea of trains; they’re so cool and “in”—their “carbon footprint” may be small, but their public funding footprint is huge.

After many decades of liberal-controlled State government we now have a more conservative (frugal) legislative body and governor. Last year they put a cap of $500,000 on these wasteful projects. But a new House Bill (988) passed the Transportation Committee to remove the cap which would railroad the State taxpayers for at least $138 Million.

I like Tynen’s suggestion that “the legislature (General Assembly) should put this plan on ice”—freeze it into oblivion. If Triangle residents think they need this, they should pay for it.

Fortunately, some of our more reasonable State lawmakers push back on this fraudulent use of our money. We need it for roads and bridges that will benefit millions more citizens and tourists.

Typically, no sound data or “science” justifies this project, according to rational legislators. One said, “Everything I know about it is that it’s a feel-good proposition with very expensive cost per passenger mile.”

Liberals love to feel good when they squander OPM.

Unfortunately, this unnecessary splurge seems to have “strong support in the state Senate.” As Tynen notes, politicians love to take credit for “flashy projects” (at our expense), but they won’t be around when the “real costs” come due. More than a Billion dollars will be “spread around” to “Big companies, bureaucrats, developers and various political cronies” before anyone rides a train; the earliest in 2025. Meanwhile the local landscape “will be torn up for years.”

Activist liberals in this State chronically complain that the State doesn’t allocate enough for “education” (one of many false claims)—a favorite, often unjustifiable, spending project. Yet, they will advocate squandering limited funds on futile projects.

Readers will notice that $1.6 Billion minus $138 Million leaves a big money gap. Guess whose money will be confiscated or will be responsible for the debt incurred to fund the $1.5 Billion rail-hole? Right. Public transportation funds from Washington, D. C. pumped into this boondoggle will likely add to our current nearly $20 Trillion national debt.

And, as Tynen astutely observes, more federal funds accepted by this State will give the D.C. bureaucrats increasing control of our sovereign rights. Recently, the Obama administration threatened to withhold federal funds if our legislators didn’t cave in to its demands to back off on a State law essentially prohibiting sexual perverts from using women’s restrooms and showers.

The more our States accept bribes from the feds, the more we will lose, not only from debt, but also in our liberties.


About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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