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Reason Foundation

Reason Alert: Infrastructure, NASA, Sen. Clinton

August 17, 2007

Bad Transportation Policy at a High Price
Syndicated columnist Steve Chapman writes, "Much of the problem of neglected maintenance arises from the fact that almost all roads and bridges are owned and operated by the government—which doesn't have the same incentive as private companies to preserve valuable assets. If a shopping mall lets its facilities decay, customers will go elsewhere. If authorities let a major bridge or road fall into disrepair, by contrast, motorists may have no alternative, except other bridges and roads that are also under-maintained by the same authorities. A corporation whose negligence is lethal will face a flood of lawsuits, but governments are generally exempt from such accountability. There are other problems with transportation funding. Robert Poole, the peerless director of transportation studies at the Reason Foundation, says the federal highway formula systematically diverts money from 'fast-growing, highly populated states to slow-growing, less populated states.' This serves political needs at the expense of genuine priorities. 'We couldn't have designed a more perverse approach to solving our highway investment problem if we tried,' says Poole. Actually, we could. We could keep the perversities and lavish more money on them."
» Reason's Transportation Research and Commentary

Sen. Hillary Clinton's Pantsuit Predicament
Reason magazine's Kerry Howley examines the great debate over Sen. Hillary Clinton's cleavage and says few "recognize the immense challenges Clinton faces as a woman dressing to project authority." Howley adds, "This is the crippling historical lacuna Clinton, Pelosi, and their few female colleagues face every time they stare into their closets. They have no shoulder pads, as it were, to stand on. There is simply no female uniform that effectively and consistently broadcasts authority; no equivalent to the male suit. It’s hard to think of anywhere that this poses a problem more severe than in the Senate, a body so invested in gender equality...High-heeled, knee-high boots are not an option for Clinton, who must somehow find a way to signal authority while conforming to an electably conservative presentation of gender...Obama and Edwards can achieve all of this with a well-pressed business suit and a shoeshine. Clinton must cope with many more elements of dress, and she can’t be sure that whatever frequency she transmits will be received uniformly by her audience."

The West Engages Lucrative Dictators
Reason magazine's Michael Young, opinion editor of the Daily Star in Beirut, writes, "...the more uniform rhetoric heard in the aftermath of 9/11 is now a memory. The Europeans are doing their own thing, and so is the U.S. What that means in practical terms is that it is once again acceptable to cajole despots if national interests mandate it. So whether your name is Qaddafi, Assad, Mubarak, or Abdullah, the moral of the story is: Enjoy the greater breathing space you now have to asphyxiate your own people."

NASA's Lessons in Adversity
NASA has decided not to fix damaged heat tiles on the space shuttle Endeavour before next week's return to Earth. In July, an explosion at Scaled Composites, a private space flight company, killed three people. Reason magazine's Katherine Mangu-Ward contrasts the approaches taken by NASA and Scaled Composites over the last few weeks and finds the differences offer a "quick primer on what it's like to operate on the government's time and dime, versus operating in a competitive market."
» Space Travel for Fun and Profit

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