Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

31 August, 2007

Meet the new boss

So Larry Craig is about to be kicked to the curb for the sin of pleading guilty to disorderly conduct when he shouldn't have. So what do we know about the man who appears to be waiting in the wings to replace him, Idaho Lt. Governor Jim Risch?
A year ago, Risch was the acting governor of Idaho. He told this newspaper's Oliver Burkeman how he viewed the victims of Katrina:

"Here in Idaho, we couldn't understand how people could sit around on the kerbs waiting for the federal government to come and do something. We had a dam break in 1976, but we didn't whine about it. We got out our backhoes and we rebuilt the roads and replanted the fields and got on with our lives. That's the culture here. Not waiting for the federal government to bring you drinking water. In Idaho there would have been entrepreneurs selling the drinking water."

Ah, Idaho truly is the Gem State. People would have been at the stand-by ready to make a buck of the thirsting misfortune of others.

Of course, Risch's recollection of that dam break in 1976 is a little, erm... wrong:
The dam that broke in 1976 was the Teton dam, built on the Snake River just a few months earlier, at a cost of $100m. (That's worth almost $500m today.) Built not by entrepreneurs, but by the federal government's bureau of reclamation. It was built at the political insistence of a few millionaire ranchers and potato-growers, whose political allies had persuaded the government to build a series of dams that transformed a desert into some of the richest and wettest agricultural land in the country. And it was built despite predictions that it would fail.

And when it did fail, it was not the self-sufficient entrepreneurs of Idaho who "rebuilt the roads and replanted the fields." It was, once again, the federal government. According to the government's official history of the incident, federal agencies quickly rebuilt all the irrigation systems, and paid more than $850 million in claims to about 15,000 people who had lost property in the flood.

I suppose Risch's self-serving fiction is more politically acceptable than that of the totally not-gay soon-to-be-former Senator Craig.

BTW - is "kerb" really the preferred spelling in the Queen's English for "curb?"

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