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Long Division 101


Sunday, September 22, 2013

I learned multiplication and long division in 3rd grade. That training was provided by the state — to help turn me into a well-informed and educated citizen. The cost of widening the local freeway will be $550 million for a 15-year project (according to Nick Welsh’s recent report). Even if you hate word problems, I beg you to do the math: That’s $100,000 every single day, including weekends and holidays, for a decade and a half! A million bucks every 10 days. Seems like an awful lot of dough for cement. And how much of that cash will end up being paid to local workers who sweat in the hot sun and lay the concrete? If it did, our unemployment problems could be practically cured. But it’s not going to go to the workers, let’s be honest. There will be bureaucratic expenditures, assessment reports, and plenty of unforeseen and costly political delays that will push up the original estimate and add to the total eventual price tag. Time to put on the brakes — I say — and not just because there’s another driver in front of us.

Traffic jams are God’s way of saying “Stay home!” Where will the money come from, and where the hell do you want or need to drive so badly? Most knuckleheads work to pay for their car — which they need to go to work. As Nick’s article suggested, at least we could change some people’s schedules around rush hour. Does that sound so unacceptable, so impractical? It seems to me that our leaders and we as followers don’t know how to be very innovative these days. We only throw huge sums of money at problems as if we had that money just lying around.

It takes 32,000 years to count to one trillion. The national debt is 13 times that amount and growing every minute. Time for some of us to go back to elementary school, don’t you think?

Billy Collins & Aimee Mann

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