I like movies. One of my favorite Westerns, “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly,” is not only a “good movie” because of its cinematography and excellent musical score; it manages to transcend the more banal aspects of the genre by offering an unflinching, amoral and John Wayne-free portrayal of human conflict in a way that documentaries, historical texts and editorials in The Courier-Journal often cannot.
The film also happens to feature a maxim that I cherish; one that I think is applicable to the Ohio River Bridges Project in lieu of this impending mayoral election. That quote is:
“You see in this world there’s two kinds of people my friend – those with loaded guns, and those who dig. You dig.”
The implied dichotomy between guns and digging is that, if one possesses the former (i.e., guns, capital, a very large stick), then the latter (i.e., digging, labor, voting for Greg Fischer) will inevitably follow. In other words: If I have a gun pointed at your genitals, you’ll pretty much do whatever I say. Got it?
In the context of two major dueling bummers — The Ohio River Bridges Project and the November mayoral power grab — yesterday’s C-J editorial imploring Louisvillians to “not panic” over the prospect of their imminent fleecing by state-backed corporate tolling interests is decidedly suggestive of a “guns” mentality: We know what’s best, keep your head down, fall in line, or we’ll put a bullet in you.
Why else would their editorial board imply that their readership is too dumb to understand the mechanics of the financing process?
One is that virtually no one who is actively engaged in the effort to build two new Ohio River bridges and reconstruct Spaghetti Junction believes a $6 round-trip toll for local traffic is acceptable. It will not happen. And that leads to the second point, which is that the political and business leadership and the larger community should remain calm, await more definitive reports in coming months and not be stampeded toward a panicky and bad alternative.
The danger is that political will may dissipate and that the public may misunderstand the actual prospects. The worst case is that there would be a sudden rush to construct only one bridge — in the East End — and to delay downtown work indefinitely. That would be a terrible mistake, with consequences that would haunt this community for decades.
Pop a fucking Quaalude and chillax, Louisville. Don’t worry that the authority charged with overseeing the project is advocating a $6 round trip toll, which would effectively tax both poorer residents of Southern Indiana for access to Louisville’s non-existent jobs as well as urban Louisvillians for access to retail across the Ohio River. $4.1 billion investment in a dying form of transportation and the concrete-salad it requires, the destruction of Butchertown and decades of newly created downtown congestion shouldn’t alarm you. And let’s not even talk about public transportation, which other comparable and faster-growing cities have championed, because our navels have all the answers you’d ever need… Or have you, perchance, already flipped to today’s madcap installment of Marmaduke?
For something they laud as Louisville’s “most important civic undertaking,” the C-J alumni/operatives didn’t ask one question about the project during last night’s mayoral “debate,” which served as yet another opportunity to marginalize the views of independent candidate Jackie Green, who brought up the topic only during his closing remarks.
But then, if they’ve got the guns, then they ask — or refrain from asking — any goddamn question they want, end of story. We’ll be the ones charged with digging that hole while the elite, gun-wielding champions of the project, many of whom stand to personally benefit from the project’s never-ending bloat, allegedly intimidate the project’s opponents. Therefore we shouldn’t “burn too many mental calories” over this, and instead acquiesce to the controlling business interests that want to keep the Abramson machinery intact and push this gargantuan scheme into fruition. From the C-J’s point of view, this is not only the smart thing to do: It’s the inevitable thing to do. That’s why we should invite Wall Street to engineer a financing mechanism to “test pilot programs in how to raise revenue.”
They’ve got the guns, Louisville. Aren’t you ready to dig a better tomorrow?