by Julie Tisdale
City & County Policy Analyst
So part of me thinks this is really cool and kinda wants to apply for a grant myself. Or maybe move to Pittsburgh so that I can ride on this one. But seriously? A $100,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security for the city to buy a hovercraft? The city of Pittsburgh has applied for one.
The city says the hovercraft would be used on ice or in shallow water to rescue people. I’m all for rescuing people, but I do wonder how many people we’re talking about and whether this is the most cost-effective way to rescue them. I’m sure a hovercraft is one way to do it, but could we make use of current equipment rather than dropping another $100,000 here? Or are there some cheaper options that would be equally effective, if not quite as cool?
It’s just another example of the problem with “government” money. Of course, it’s not really the government’s at all – it comes from taxpayers. But since it looks like free money just waiting to be claimed, there’s no great incentive on the part of the city to make sure that this is really the best use of funds. It’s totally different than the calculation that you and I have to make when we’re considering how much car we actually need, for example. I mean sure, I’d love a 562hp Ferrari 458 if someone will give me a grant, but if I have to pay for it myself…