Quality of life should come
before Industrial Welfare
By Michael Spence
June 17, 2005
It is the people who choose to
live in this community that are its greatest asset. And contrary
to where the political leadership seems to be leading us, it
isn't construction projects or industrial welfare that attracts
those people to Ketchikan. It is quality of life.
Every day we hear and read about some new construction project
that brings or will bring (name a number) jobs to Ketchikan.
Anyone who has been here a while, however, can tell you that
we have had countless of these projects come and go, and like
the runoff flowing from the their building sites into the sea,
not much remains to be seen a few months later.
The result of this "make work" trend, is a landscape
full of perpetually unfinished projects (take the South Tongass
Highway, for instance) and an increased population of temporary
construction workers. Meanwhile schools and existing road maintenance
are under funded, and no consideration is given to the aesthetic
qualities what will attract people to live and visit here in
Unfortunately the culture created from this federally-funded
industrial welfare has a life force of its own. Washington DC
and the lobbyists that run it dictate to the community what projects
come next, and all other community interests are put on hold.
The public vote on the bridge, for example, only came AFTER
the community was told by Washington DC that it was either the
bridge or nothing.
If the community could instead direct public funds to parks,
pedestrian access, school and recreation facilities and just
maintaining the infrastructure that already exists, we could
enhance the lifestyle that keeps and attracts people here. Where
people want to live, long-term private enterprise will follow.
Ketchikan, AK - USA
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