Flint, Michigan, has seemed like a hopeless case for a long time. Even before Michael Moore’s Roger & Me, Flint was undergoing deindustrialization. Politicians resisted, promising to reverse the trend. Failure after failure, they still desperately prove themselves interested in trying something, anything, to make the town “seem” vibrant and “cutting edge.”
Most recently, the Flint Mass Transportation Authority has exerted its rhetoric, its dreams, and its grant-writing skills to nab a $2.4 million bus.
The hydrogen fuel cell technology transit bureaucrats have set their eyes upon is quite leading edge, and I guess it seems a bargain, what with the recent drop in prices (“$3.5 million a few years ago,” according to the Michigan Capitol Confidential).
But the town could buy nine diesel buses for the same money, and it’s not as if they’re rolling in dough. Flint has had to order out for emergency management, suffering a tax base plagued by an official (read: underestimated) unemployment rate of 18 percent.
So, of course, the transit authority hopes to pull in federal “stimulus” funds.
Ask yourself, though: how would a new, expensive bus stimulate Flint’s economy? Luxury buses running on outré technology don’t exactly inspire businesses to invest in otherwise depressed towns.
As a rule, only rich people can afford leading-edge technology.
Sad to say, folks in government behave like rich people.
Only worse. Folks in government behave like rich people spending other people’s money.
And, now more than ever, the citizens of Flint can’t afford such conspicuous consumption.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.