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The Darwin Economy by Robert H. H. Frank

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FOUR

Starve the Beast—But Which One?

BY MEANS OF THREE SEPARATE congressional earmarks in 2005, a total of $320 million was proposed for the construction of a bridge linking the town of Ketchikan, Alaska, with its airport on Gravina Island. Dubbed “The Bridge to Nowhere,” the project quickly became a celebrated symbol of waste in government.1

This particular bridge was a terrible idea from the beginning. Ketchikan’s population at the time was less than 9,000 and Gravina’s was only 50. Ferry service provided transportation between the town and the island at a fee of $6, at fifteen- to thirty-minute intervals, depending on the time of day. Having bridge access would have been more convenient, obviously, but nowhere enough so to justify the enormous ...

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