October 23, 2012 --
By Chris Barton
Cascade Policy Institute
Imagine heading out to your favorite bar one evening to celebrate the completion of another toiling week at work. Rather than indulging in the comfort of your favorite beer, you decide to loosen up your purse strings and order some champagne. So with only a slight sense of apprehension, you ask the bartender to serve you the best champagne in the house. The glass arrives and you take an inquiring sip. The flavor is unbelievable. The sophisticated mix of flavors is without rival. When the check comes to the table, take a deep breath and prepare for the shock of the sticker price. You flip the bill over and are instantly overcome with incredulity. Only four dollars? You assume the bartender made a mistake. Much to your surprise, he confirms the price. You have had a glass of champagne for the price of a beer.
Now, this story may seem purely fictional. Only a business bent on self-destruction would offer such a deal. However, in the world of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Oregon Solar Highway Project, this is reality. ODOT really is able to get champagne for the price of beer, but one of the unfortunate burdens of living in reality is that someone must pay the difference for the actual cost of the champagne. Who will pick up that tab? The taxpayers.
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