The Washington Post

Friday Rant: Waste makes haste! edition

Today I am going to argue for waste. Massive, cost-overrun, cost-ineffective, pure inefficient waste. I am not an economist. I cannot show you data that this is a good idea. But real economists have been blanketing the world with data that the way to battle a global recession is with austerity and they’ve been pretty consistently wrong. So what have I got to lose here?

My argument comes from a few places. One, the economy lacks demand. Two, corporations are sitting on piles of cash and can’t think of anything to do with them. Three, people want to be inspired. They wanted to be be inspired by space travel, but there’s nothing out there but frozen dust and lethal radiation. Four, come on, there has to be something more exciting to buy than a bigger TV or yet another hand-held communications device. Five, my commute is on a ridiculously incomplete, aging, deteriorating subway system, a system that would like to pursue a sensible expansion plan, but doesn’t even have enough money to stop the tracks from catching on fire.

So here’s the plan. Let’s build a sci-fi worthy urban transportation system, in cities all across the land. Something way beyond functional. Let’s make it awesome and so fast and fun to use and jaw-dropping to look at that we will remember what it’s like to do great things. Perhaps a rocket-shaped train flying overhead through a glass tube. These things were pretty much promised to us as part of The Future. That’s now. This is what great civilizations get around to. Showing off a little, and giving some jobs to people who need them, building something they will take their kids to and say “I built that!” And while, no, we won’t do this, I did get you to think about it for a minute there, didn’t I?

Tom Toles is the editorial cartoonist for The Post and writes the Tom Toles blog. See all of his cartoons here.


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