Contrary to statements in print and broadcast news coverage, officials responsible for analyzing the controversial Savannah harbor deepening do not assert that new jobs will be created by the project.
Thus, public opinion about the $600 million undertaking is being driven by false assumptions that are reported as fact, compelling political support based on unsound speculation.
Unfortunately, this bandwagon mentality has become far too common, resulting in billions of wasted tax dollars being squandered on unjustified projects.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers justifies the project solely on their assertion that moving commodities with the larger vessels to be accommodated by deepening will reduce shipping costs. According to a Corps economist assigned to analyzing the project, there is no rationale that builds a case that new jobs will be created as a result of the deepening.
In fact, by being more efficient in terms of cost per ton, including automated commodity handling, the future job–growth curve could be lower than without the project.
At a December 2010 meeting of the Stakeholder Evaluation Group deliberating the project, Corps economist Bernard Moseby said that under their guidelines they are required to convert projected economic benefits into the “equivalent value” in jobs even if no additional jobs are expected.
When questioned, he agreed that there is no analysis by the Corps finding that new jobs will be produced by the project.
During a period when state and federal officials must be especially prudent in making decisions about wisely spending limited government funds, it is imperative that well–reasoned analysis prevails, not wishful thinking. Reckless hearsay about the harbor project does not support fiscally responsible decision–making, which is so urgently needed.
If the public is deeply misinformed by inaccurate reporting, our political institutions – already inclined toward uninformed “group–think” – will become even less capable of responsible budgeting decisions.
Executive Director, Center for a Sustainable Coast
Saint Simons Island, Georgia
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