Sunday, June 25, 2006

Dumb

It's painful to read those well-meaning letters to the editor whose authors reveal themselves somewhere in the letter to be too ignorant to be taken seriously.

Today's example takes place in the very first bullet point of a letter about traffic problems. The sentence:
  • Scrap the idea of the $125,000,000 fiber optic plan. Use this money to possibly looking at overpasses on the following streets: Congress, Johnston, Kaliste Saloom, and plan for the extension of Ambassador to Hwy. 90.
That's wrong on so many levels that it makes a reasonable person wonder about the rest of the letter:
  1. The money for the fiber-optic build-out we voted in last year are bonds; no 125 mill pot of money exists today. If we don't build the system we don't get the money.
  2. The bonds will be dedicated; nobody can use the money for anything else after the bonds are sold.
  3. They will be revenue bonds--we're counting on sales of service to pay back investors in the bonds.
The author, of course, just finds it handy to promote his expensive ideas --which might be good ones-- by pretending the money to fund them can come from some magical pot that doesn't involve the citizens paying for them. He doesn't want to start his letter with the following considerably less punchy opening suggestion:
  • "Scrap the idea of doing much of anything else next year, andraise taxes. Use this money to possibly looking at overpasses on the following streets: Congress, Johnston, Kaliste Saloom, and plan for the extension of Ambassador to Hwy. 90."
On the other hand it wouldn't look half so dumb as the formulation he chose and it would have the virtue of being honest. As a bonus playing it straight wouldn't discredit the rest of the letter.

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