preen themselves. But not in MountainnCity.n* * *nWe’re not crazy about it here in ChapelnHill, either. Last September ourn21,000-seat gymnasium, often usednfor rock concerts, was the site of annalleged debate among the Democraticnpresidential candidates. When it wasnannounced that the seven (at thatntime) dwarfs were coming, the universitynnews bureau got calls asking whatnkind of music the “Presidential Candidates”nplayed. When our people realizednthe horrible truth, they stayednaway in droves. David Bowie had fillednthe place earlier in the week at $20 anhead, but only a quarter of the seatsnwere occupied as the candidates sharedntheir predictable views on educationnand kicked Bill Bennett around for anwhile.nThe proceedings were supposed tonbe televised, but a technical snafunblacked out the first 20 minutes, whichnour local educational station filled withna documentary on Finland. They gotnsome telephone complaints — whennthe glitch was corrected. Folks wantednto see the rest of the program onnFinland.n* * *nNothing personal, Democrats. Aboutnthe same time, down in South Carolina,nthey had trouble filling a stadiumnfor the Pope. Aside from some mutteringsnout of Bob Jones University andnone grumpy “My Holy Father is innHeaven, not Rome” bumper-sticker, Indidn’t detect any anti-Catholicismnaround here. But neither was there anynrush to go see the leader of somebodynelse’s religion. Catholicism for thenCatholics seemed to be the dominantnview, which made it difiGcult for thenvisit’s sponsors since there were probablynmore seats in the stadium thannCatholics in South Carolina. I gathernthey wound up busing the Pope’s coreligionistsnfrom Pennsylvania andnpoints north.n* ^ %nBut enough about politics and religion.nLet’s talk about why hot dogs come innpackages of 10 when buns come innpackages of eight or 12. The NorthnCarolina Independent (from which Inalso got the Mountain City story)nreports that two researchers at a littleknownnland-grant school in Raleighnanswered that question in last Octo­nber’s Journal of Business. The discrepancynexists because people want it thatnway, that’s why. “If in fact customersnwanted to have hot dogs and buns innequal packages,” these scholars wrote,n”someone would have already donenit.”nYour tax dollars at work. Next question?nJohn Shelton Reed is a registered Republicannin Orange County, NorthnCarolina, who knows it’s wrong tonwant to vote Libertarian.nLetter From thenHeartlandnby Jane GreernDon’t Tread On MenI had the intense pleasure of visitingnthe White Mountains of New Hampshirenin August. Although I’m happynwhere I am, I think I could be happynthere, too, and if anyone wants to givenme a family-and-pet-sized cabin halfwaynup a mountain, write to me in carenof Chronicles.nI fell in love with the New Hampshirenlandscape, but even more withnthe attitude there. One of our oldestnstates, New Hampshire is as feisty andncontentious as any youngster. Thenstate reminds me of the Midwest at itsn(theoretical) best. It has no income tax,nand no one will ever be elected governornthere, they tell me, unless he ornshe “takes the pledge” not to initiatenan income tax. The state supports itselfnin a fine manner with a lottery, stateownednliquor, and stiff property and sinntaxes. There’s a negative unemploymentnrate, which means there arenmore jobs than people willing to donthem. New Hampshire license platesnproclaim the state’s uncryptic and enviablenmotto, “Live Free or Die.” Andnresidents in and out of the state legislaturenbridle at federal interference innthings they can do perfectly well themselves.nIn short, New Hampshire wantsnto be left alone to run New Hampshire.nThe meeting I witnessed this summernhad to do with transportation:nRepresentatives from 40 or so statesnhad gathered to talk about their commonnproblems. And lo and behold, itnnnseems the biggest problem all statesnhave in common is the federal government.nThis isn’t news to anyone in thentransportation business, public or private.nIt probably isn’t news to anyone,nperiod. What’s amazing, though, isnthat we all allow the system to perpetuatenitself and grow even as we grousenabout it.nTake the 1987 federal highwaynbill — please. It expired at the end ofnSeptember 1986, and Congress adjournednshortly thereafter, proving thatnit really didn’t give a filibuster aboutnthe states’ problem (no idea how muchnfederal aid money they’d have to spendnin the next four or five years), thenconstruction industry’s predicamentn(no work in the offing for hundreds ofnthousands of people), or their ownnfailure to do something responsiblenwith the billions of motor fuel taxndollars in the Highway Trust Fund.nThe highway bill wasn’t passed untilnApril 1987, six months after it expired,nwhich left the states in fiscal limbo andnemotional hell for that long. It passednthen only because Congress overrode anpresidential veto.nThe President thought the bill wasn”fat,” which doesn’t make sense, butnmore about that in a minute. What didnmake sense was his objection to whatnare commonly referred to as “demonstrationnprojects.” Seventy years ago,ndemonstration projects were just that:nprojects to show how a new ideanworked, or whether it would work.nToday, though, they’re devised withoutnmuch input from the state transportationnagencies, and used mainly to makenvarious congressmen with no engineeringntraining look good: “You wantedna road, I got you a road and had itnmoved to the top of your state transportationndepartment’s meticulouslynplanned schedule, all by myself I’d benpleased to have you vote for me innNovember.” The four or five mostnpopulous states get the lion’s share ofnall demo projects. True, such projectsnmake up a small percentage of thenhighway projects receiving federal aid,nbut it’s the principle of the thing.nLet’s take another look at highwaynfederal aid itself What is the HighwaynTrust Fund made of? Quite simply,nmoney that you and I pay in federalntaxes every time we put fuel in ournvehicles. Money that goes into thenMARCH 1988 / 41n