The Life of An Iowa Road

Julia does not live on Route 6 in Iowa.

Julia is the now infamous fictional character featured on Obama campaign website.  She is also a ward of the state, something she seems fine with, and the Obama campaign seems proud of.   A quick search will reveal lots of articles about Julia, so I will not bore you with my point-by-point analysis of the “Life of Julia”.

I find Julia embarrassing.  I also find embarrassment in the fact that the President is not embarrassed by Julia.  The life of Julia is nothing to which we should aspire, and it stands in stark contrast to the lives that made America great – like the lives of a few thousand Iowans.

In 1910 Iowa had a problem.  Iowa needed a good road to cross the state.  There was nothing unusual about this sort of problem, but the pioneering spirit of the Plains solved the problem in the most amazing way.  Iowans built that road themselves.

On a Saturday morning in June, thousands of Iowans gathered along the route’s path.  With shovels in hand, at 9:00am sharp they all got down to work.  Within about an hour, Iowa had a completed 380 mile road that would link Omaha, Nebraska to Chicago, Illinois, passing through Des Moines and Iowa City.  By the end of the day all the road signs were up and Route 6 – the precursor to the coast-to-coast U.S. Interstate 80 – was open.  The road was soon hailed for its model quality.

Prior to that Saturday leaders planned.  They coordinated efforts, stockpiled supplies, and otherwise put everything in place except the actual road.   On that Saturday ordinary American did something extraordinary.  What happened after that Saturday is another story.

The people of Iowa, with a few months of planning, built a modern marvel in a single day.  The government of Iowa then took eight years to formally register the road as a state highway.  Eight years of letters, forms, surveys, paperwork, red tape, and bureaucracy.

More than one-hundred years later, the government remains as efficient as in 1910.  The U.S. Post Office is on the verge of collapse,  the replacement for the Twin Towers has been “under construction” for ten years and counting, and our space program is shuttered.  What has changed is the people.

Building a 380 mile road in an hour seems absurd because we have, at our governments behest, become a nation of Julias, or at least possessed of enough Julias to get in the way of classical American go-getters.

Like I said, the whole thing is just embarrassing.


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