London City Council spends $5.9 million for two bridges for the city’s cycling trail network. This money could have been used to reduce poverty in London, that is, if these politicians were actually serious about their previous commitment to do so.

Lee Friday – August 18, 2017

From the London Free Press (LFP):

It’s going to take two bridges and $5.9 million, but a frustrating gap in London’s trail network may finally be filled in [the] next year.

When the 900-metre trail between Ross Park and the North London Athletic Sports Fields is completed, the city will have 42 continuous kilometres on the Thames Valley Parkway walking/cycling trail.

A cyclist or walker will be able to go from Byron to the Kilally area where the trail is being extended east of Highbury Avenue.

Which is the more desirable social goal – poverty reduction, or cycling trails and bridges? This is not a complex question. Few people, and certainly not politicians, would dare say that cycling trails and bridges are more desirable than poverty reduction. However, politicians are masters of rationalization, at least in their own minds. Ask them to explain the reason for a particular expense, and they will always attempt to justify the expense, while insisting it does not contradict their other policies. Only politicians and bureaucrats can do this with a straight face.

Building these bridges is a luxury which utilizes resources that would be better used in pursuit of City Council’s goal of reducing poverty. That would be the view of City Council if they were truly committed to their poverty reduction goal. Clearly, their commitment is weak. This is an issue which cannot be rationalized.

A ten-year-old can understand that insufficient food, inadequate clothing, and substandard living conditions are issues more demanding of our attention than building bridges for cyclists. To be clear, I am not in favour of cancelling the bridge project and reallocating the funds to the reduction of poverty in London. As I have written elsewhere, the government’s various forms of economic intervention are the primary cause of poverty, and the government’s efforts to alleviate the poverty which it has caused are counterproductive. I am simply pointing out the hypocrisy of London City Council.

For the sake of discussion, let us say that a luxury is anything over and above basic necessities (adequate food, clothing, and shelter). If a parent indulges in a luxury before all basic necessities have been provided for the household, most people would describe this as irresponsible behaviour. Accordingly, since we are told that the purpose of government is to promote the greater good, we must describe the government’s provision of ‘cycling bridges’ as irresponsible behaviour.

The government tries to be all things to all people, because that is how politicians try to win votes. A little money for poverty reduction, a little money for cyclists, a little money for the arts, a little money for barbecues and a ping pong table, a little money for this, a little money for that, etc. etc. With numerous groups feeding at the government trough, luxuries will often trump necessities. The bridge project should be cancelled and the money should remain in the pockets of taxpayers, who have the right to establish their own priorities.

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