A recent vote by the Kailua Neighborhood Board (advisory only) on the Haumakua Drive Bikeway Project by a 10-5 margin elected to support the City project.
Though the no vote was based on questions of traffic and some of the deficiencies of the bridge and roadways affected by the project, there was an elephant in the proceeding left unobserved.
The hidden pachyderm is that 80% of the almost half million dollars cost to study and apply paint to the roadbed is supplied by the Federal Grants Capital Projects Fund.
The rub comes when 30% or so of the 400K is borrowed, (and the rest in current tax dollars) is happily supplied in spite of the looming overhang of a 19 trillion dollar and growing federal budget deficit.
19 trillion dollars is the largest debt acquired in human history. It means that long after the paint has rubbed off and blown away from the Haumakua roadbed the money borrowed to do the project will still be owed.
Project like the Bikeway if they were strictly funded by the State or County would be at far less cost, if they were approved for construction at all. Likewise if the federal government granted only money it received as revenue its standards of performance would undoubtedly be much higher.
The Roosevelt Administration began the habit of grant specific project monies to the states as part of economic recovery during the prolonged Great Depression.
While major federal projects such flood control and irrigation, interstate highways and power grids and production can be a wise use of combined federal and state efforts, there no reason in this area of run-away spending to continue this process blindly.
The federal dollars available for the Haumakua Bikeway represent a miniscule portion of discretionary federal spending, but such programs multiplied nationwide, along with other the federal bureaucracy built up to administer such funds, represent a far greater threat to the future well-being of the general public then any bike lane can hope to mitigate.
Federal debt is in the high seventy percentile range of Gross Domestic Product which is a hazardous level for a peace time economy.
If it continues to rise, as is likely, barring robust economic growth and spending restraint, it inevitable enters a level where US future stability is in the hands of financial market opinion makers.
Financial market may be confident with a US debt level of say 100% of GDP and then choose to abandon the US dollar and declare our economy unstable at 101% of GDP.
A potential threat of this magnitude undermines the viability of the US no matter how much happy talk politicians of both parties espouse.
Weaning Hawaii and the rest of the country off of federal funny money borrowed from America’s born and un-born citizens has to take place at some point in time.
Whether it’s cold turkey like an addict forced into reform following an economic catastrophe, or imposed upon the fed’s by the foresight of a alarmed and empowered citizenry, are the only one of two choices available.