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Reason Alert: Emergency Funding

March 23, 2007

Pork and Emergency Funding
More than four years into the war in Iraq not only are we still regularly paying for "emergency" spending requests but the latest funding bill is filled with nearly $25 billion in domestic pork. Reason's Jesse Walker writes, "If you vote against this bill, you're not merely failing to support our soldiers. You're refusing to support the noble family farmer, the great American fisherman, the essential work of peanut storage. (Did I forget to mention the peanut storage? It's slated for $74 million in emergency war funds. Maybe that'll bring Carter around.)...Two years ago Bush promised this war would 'support democratic movements in the Middle East and beyond.' Obviously, he has been true to his word. Once, to be a war profiteer, you had to be involved, however peripherally, in war-making: building weapons, supplying troops, or at the very least making money off some supposed reconstruction project. Now you can rake in the war profits from the shade of your orange grove. What better example could there be of democratization, of replacing the rule of elites with an open, more participatory system? Talk about sharing our wealth: Every Man a Halliburton!"
» Can Fiscal Reformers Retake the GOP?

Slow-and-Steady on Climate Change
At, National Journal's Jonathan Rauch says "climate change is real and deserves action, but that the problem is nowhere near as overwhelming as the rhetoric commonly suggests, and the solutions nowhere near as difficult. As problems go, in fact, climate change appears to be one of the most convenient that humankind has ever faced...Because significant warming is already baked into the cake (excuse the expression), climate change for at least the next 50 to 100 years will be a problem to be managed, not solved. Managing it will require mitigating whatever harms it causes: adaptation, in the standard parlance. This, too, turns out to be remarkably convenient. Few, if any, of the problems that climate change seems likely to exacerbate -- flooding, storms, drought, tropical disease, habitat loss, extinction -- are new or exotic. To the contrary, they are already front and center on the developmental and environmental agendas...Climate change, then, is a reason to do more of what makes sense anyway: reduce coastal vulnerability and strengthen homes to minimize hurricane damage, improve public health and develop drugs to fight malaria, and so on. There is nothing radical about any of this. No rethinking of capitalism is required...This argues not for passivity, and not for delay, but for gradualism: setting up policies that will tighten the screws on greenhouse-gas emissions over the next few decades. The convenient truth about global warming, then, is that radicalism is as pointless as it is impractical. Slow-but-steady is not only the easiest approach; it is also the most effective."
» Reason's Global Warming Archives

How Traffic Jams Are Made In City Hall
Reason's Sam Staley and Ted Balaker, co-authors of the book The Road More Traveled, write, "There is a fundamental disconnect between transportation planners and the typical American commuter. Most travelers believe the car is a good thing, a source of freedom and mobility. Giving up the flexibility of the private automobile reduces our quality of life; it's a step back, not a step forward. That's the main reason the use of mass transit is declining in the U.S., despite the billions of dollars poured annually into such systems. Yet transportation planners believe public transit and sharing rides with strangers increases the typical American's quality of life. It doesn't, and our behavior reflects this. That's why the vast majority of us choose not to use public transit...According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the typical driver in America's metropolitan areas takes 21 minutes to get from home to work. If you take public transit, the average commute stretches to 36 minutes. That's 71 percent longer. Workers in the New York metropolitan area have the longest commute: There it takes an average of 52 minutes to get to work, even though the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut mass transit systems are among the most extensive in the nation."
» The Road More Traveled: Why the Congestion Crisis Matters More Than You Think and What We Can Do About It

Newt in '08
"The bumbling of the present administration has transformed Ronald Reagan from a flawed-but-fun conservative (amnesty! Gas tax! The Beirut cut-and-run!) into a fixture on Mount Olympus. It has resurrected the reputation of Bill Clinton so thoroughly, so blindingly, that his once-loathed wife now holds 1:1 odds of replacing Bush II in the White House. And no one has gotten better mileage out of the Bush decline than Newt Gingrich. There's no media angle the former Speaker of the House doesn't have covered. Everyone loves a comeback, and he's staging big one. Everyone loves a Republican Jeremiah who'll bash his party, and Gingrich is a natural. No one is really satisfied with the GOP's field of 2008 candidates, and Gingrich is happy to report that if the race continues to grind on the way it has, he might do a cannonball into the shallow talent pool." Reason's David Weigel looks at the excitement building for a Gingrich campaign and the selective amnesia it takes to think he's the GOP's answer.

New at and

Surface Transportation Innovations
March 2007
Robert Poole

Airport Policy and Security Newsletter
March 2007
Robert Poole

Bongwater Into Whine
Drug warriors push broad censorship of student speech
Jacob Sullum

The Massachusetts Mandate Update
Slippery slope to expanded private health insurance?
Ronald Bailey

Upcoming Reason Events

Everlasting Gridlock
March 29, 2007
Los Angeles, CA
Reason and the Los Angeles Press Club present a panel discussion on traffic and transit solutions. Reason's Ted Balaker, Tom Rubin, former CFO of the Southern California Rapid Transit District, and James E. Moore II, engineering and public policy professor at USC, debate how to reduce our growing traffic congestion and detail how technology and the private sector can help shorten your commute. For more information, please visit:

Reason Weekend
April 12-15, 2007
Laguna Beach, CA
Join Reason for a weekend of sumptuous meals, golf, recreation, and interesting conversation. This year's speakers include Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine and author the book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More; Adam Savage of Discovery Channel's Mythbusters; Steven Greenhut, author of Abuse Of Power: How The Government Misuses Eminent Domain; Alan Bock, author of Waiting to Inhale: The Politics of Medical Marijuana; Deirdre McCloskey, author of The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce; Matt Welch and Tim Cavanaugh of the Los Angeles Times editorial page; Reason Foundation President David Nott, Reason Founder Robert Poole, Reason Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie, and numerous others. For more information please visit:

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