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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 14, 2009 8:30pm-9:00pm EDT

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route to albany. along the route that in fact he had mapped 15 years earlier. so randel starts making some noise about. he publishes some anonymous newspaper articles and an anonymous path of, and wright, chief engineer wright probably decides just for the section of the canal is to be dealt, wright decide to go right in the opposite direction. that is, not take randel direct route from schenectady to albany or even continue along the southern side of the mohawk as it arcs north and eventually down toward albany. . .
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>> the waste that we see in public works projects today has a long legacy. became bitter enemies. a couple of years later they wind up together on that chesapeake and delaware canal. a very short, but very important canal connecting chesapeake bay and delaware bay. the chief engineer. the chief contractor. and after a few months he gets
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rendell fired from the canal. the case eventually goes to the u.s. supreme court. he wins a quarter of a million dollars which is an extraordinary amount of money. the tenth of the value. it builds a mansion overlooking the canal which is eventually built exactly on the line that he had suggested and that right time was wrong. because down every morning to collect tolls, which is how he collected his quarter million dollars. the canal company was not -- did not willingly pay off his judgment. in any case there are other aspects of the book that i think our new material, which i don't think we really have time to go into here. you have the very long competition between the new york
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and virginia about which state will get what first. it has been talked about and of the box. i think a stress it in this one. for decades washington, george washington and thomas jefferson who owned land in the ohio river valley, speculate as a plant had desperately tried to find a way to get to the potomac river, to improve the potomac river and get it to go over the mountains and off to the other side and then to tributaries. but the potomac, unfortunately, was not up to the task. not the way new york's mohawk river makes a relatively easy pass through a break in the appalachian mountain chain. and interestingly in 1817 just before new york decided to go ahead with the canal a bill goes
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through to create the bonus which would have provided federal money for state infrastructure projects. and james madison on his last day in office. congress had been working toward this bill thinking that madison wanted this kind of thing because he had spoken about it in and inaugural address the previous year. madison vetoes the bill on his last day in office. arguably, he says, on constitutional grounds. the federal government has no business using the federal treasury to support state projects. obviously things have changed considerably since then. but at the time some bought that argument that people in new york thought the real reason for this very surprising veto is that medicine suddenly realized that most of the money that would be flowing out of this bonus bill
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would be doing to a new york for its erie canal project. and so you have -- and the new york goes ahead it right away. the state legislature approves of projects and bonds it with state issue bonds which is also very unique. but you have this very intense competition between the new york and virginia. new york is essentially winds, at least the commercial part of the competition. there are some other things i'd think we can talk about. i forgot to start my clock to see how long have been going, but of what to say something. it's not actually in the book. but there has been a lot of talk lately about the national infrastructure bank. i don't know if people are aware of it. it is in the obama budget. senator dodd from connecticut has a bill in the senate to
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create a national infrastructure bank. the new york city finance your who helped new york city out of its desperate financial straits in the 1970's as as a book out calling for a national infrastructure bank. and all three of them and other people, too, cited the eery canal as the first major piece of infrastructure that was built in the country and the sort of thing that we should be doing again. and it is interesting to me that there are significant efforts to recreate -- to create and to build and rebuild america's infrastructure and that the erie canal is cited. but it almost seems as though a lot of the citation of the erie canal is somewhat blind. there aren't really very many similarities between how new york city and new york state built the erie canal and of the federal government now might support infrastructure projects.
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however, there is one very important similarities -- one way in which the erie canal, i think, has helped inform the debate about whether the federal government should be creating a national infrastructure bank tough on infrastructure projects. and that is that it is essential for there to be a a single person that owns the project. and with that. kinnell, as i haven't mentioned it yet. i'm talking about dewitt clinton. another sort of myth about dewitt clinton. it was he that dreamed up the erie canal. of course it wasn't. it was actually first proposed in 18 of seven by a fellow who had intended to be the first
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western grain merchant, the first grain merchant of western new york, but he went broke because he discovered there actually was no good way to get the grain grown by the pioneer farmers of western new york. to actually get that grain east. there is no good route. he wound up, this fellow, another connecticut native to try to find his fortune in the west. western new york anyway. he winds up in debt or's prison. under a pseudonym he writes the argument newspaper essays arguing for -- proposing and arguing for a canal across new york state directly to lake erie. so it was actually his idea. but dewitt clinton picks up that idea three years later. and he is a guide that makes the erie canal happen. if you don't know anything about the wind clinton, he is a
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longtime new york city mayor. new york state lawmaker. congressman. he is one of the canal commissioners eventually. a longtime new york governor. new york city civic benefactor. social reformer. nearly president in 1812 over madison, but for the then swing state of pennsylvania. but clinton has to be credited for seeing the wisdom of the erie idea and then attaching himself very early to the effort. he becomes its chief promoter. and clinton is of very popular leader. a scrupulously honest. not something we often see in public officials. but at the same time he was a careless and often reviled politician. he left astounding public attacks roll off his back. and he is the single individual who guides the legislative approval, its financing, and its
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popular support. if clinton had taken any of that many outrageous assaults against them were succumbed to self doubts arguably you might say that we could be living in a nation that peters out somewhere years of the mississippi. we might not have a cousin to the west by the eerie canal. interest to the captain's own nation. spanish from the south. english and french from the north. even russian influence from the northwest might not have given us the country we have now. and i would say for those who talk now about creating a national infrastructure bank and a sight to the erie canal as the first piece of infrastructure remade, it is important, i think, for those people who are involved in the bank to own it. if that is what is wanted support it and develop arguments against anybody who would argue
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against and then go ahead and do it with the same sort of dedication that do with clinton put in to the erie canal. i think that is all i'll say for prepared remarks. now i think if anybody would like to ask questions, co-head. [applauding] [inaudible conversations] >> does anyone have a question? >> yes. do you think the proposed bank is a good idea? >> at think it is probably an essential -- i'm not an expert in this area, but i have noticed the development of the idea. i think it is essential. american infrastructure is falling apart. i don't think we have built very much since the 19 fifties. another similarity between in the erie canal and what we have
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now is that the canal was built during the country's first great depression. the canal project started in 1817. in 1819 before much of it had been built we had the panic of 1819 caused in large part by flawed banking policies. and that depression lasted into the middle 18 twenties, the precise time of the building of the canal. what the depression did actually was allow for contracts on the erie canal to be taken at much lower prices. a sense of the construction costs were taken down. it gave work to what words of the late many unemployed people. and so i think that if we do wind up creating a national infrastructure bank recently seem to be heading in a similar economic direction right now. and it might be a good time to create such a bank and have
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become in this case, federal government provide work to people -- to many people who may be losing their jobs. >> who is next with the question? >> in the back. >> do i infer correctly that the original sponsors were more politicians than businessmen? >> that is -- i would say the original idea came from this failed first western -- the first grain merchant in western new york. he failed because he had no way to get his grain from western new york back east. that was in 897. in 18 no eight a couple of new york state senators get legislation passed to at least get a first survey done of a possible route. that happens. both of those messages.
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they also happen to be western new york pioneers. it is certainly in their interest. they also, i think, had of broader interest because they saw the greater possibilities of laying a canal through upstate new york excessing their lands.o f n ds of course, but also then being able to contact or make -- take advantage of all that the interior of the continent had to offer. >> someone were to transport diastema one barges from new york or philadelphia and then to traverse the canal with mules as
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the cab company provides the ? web do not understand? >> the workings. tell the canal actually worked? >> yes. if one were to deliver once barges to the canal by steam and the owner of the barges didn't have yules -- >> they did. the barges that operated on the canal, a sense of the system was a barge and a mule. the bill pulled the barge along the canal. maybe i'm not understanding your question. >> suppose the barges started in new york or philadelphia. they were towed by steam. >> right. >> they were left there, i assume. they would just be left there. >> right. >> how did they traverse the
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canal? >> well, most kids would not come up the hudson river in barges. they would go up the hudson river initially for a brief time in a sailing ships, but ultimately in increasingly larger steamboats. so it was a separate segment. bids went from new york city up the hudson to albany. then they bertrand's shipped to canal barges. did i answer your question? i'm not sure i did. okay. go ahead. the mules were owned by the canal companies. and you had barges that tech goods and you had also barges
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that to passengers. in all cases bold originally by horses for the first couple of years. then it was discovered that mules are actually pull harder and longer and with a more docile manner. anyone else? >> how many companies were there? how many cab companies or there? >> there were a bunch initially. there were a couple of guys whose names escape me know who started the first passenger canal boats and were actually intended to be a monopolist. thier advertising. one line on the canal. so again, even in the 1820's we have business interests that aren't necessarily aligned with the public interest.
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but eventually it and actually fairly quickly a number of competitors emerged. travel on the canal was very competitive. not particularly expensive, but enough that people who ran barges made a lot of money even after they paid significant holes, which is what wound up making these canals such a profitable venture for the state. >> hold on, one sack. >> what happened was i think if the canal had not been built from 1817-1825 river road start coming in in the 1830's. initially they can't really -- can't really transpired very much. there aren't really competitors
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for heavily loaded barges for a couple more decades. but it is a curious thing. once the canal was built and opened that became the request. and when i -- my office is in a neighborhood that -- in a neighborhood that has lots of the places to eat. i wind up having lunch or did in my mind all the time from the same tally in the bottom of the building. cut to eight different places to get lunch. i always go to the same place. a lot of that sort of human instinct is what happens with the canal. once the canal opened and the way west from albany to buffalo, that is how people went. when the first railroads were built in new york state the first rail line was late right parallel to the erie canal. and later the first interstate was made right next to the
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villa. >> have of follow up question to that. are there any bets of the erie canal that are operational today for commerce rather than just historical reasons? >> right. a think i mentioned the current canal is the third version. the first down was 40 feet. 1830's-1860's. and then from 1905 to 1917 the current canal was built which is a canal for motorized barges. wheels go away. but rest barges. the current canal is essentially much straighter, much broader than the original canal. and there is -- i've been on the canal. probably not for several decades
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has there been very much commercial activity on the canal. it is almost entirely pleasure boaters. and there is a brief resurgence this past summer when gas went up to -- when oil prices spiked. some shippers briefly, apparently, shifted to the erie canal barges which are much cheaper than tracks on the interstate, at least when gas is over $4 a gallon. but that quickly went back to the situation we have now which is mostly just pleasure boaters. okay. anyone else? all right. thanks very much for coming. hope you enjoyed the book. [applauding] >> gerard koeppel is the author of "water
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for gotham." >> this summer book tv is asking what are you reading? >> my name is michele bachmann. a member of congress. i have two great books that i am working on right now. the first book is by dr. mark levin. a constitutional scholar. it has been on the new york times best-seller list for nine out of the last 10 weeks. it has sold over a million copies and is essentially a treatise on why conservatives believe what they believe. custer a number of different
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issues. it is a fabulous boat. i have read it once. i let it. dog yard the pages. written notes and all the margins. i'm quoting the book on liberty and tierney everywhere i go. i urge people to read his book. it is fabulous. i'm going through it the second time and taking more notes. i am also working on another book by a great lady that i have heard several times speak about the book. it is a forgotten man. she is writing the history of the hoover and years of fdr and the great depression. a forgotten man is the american taxpayer who is paying for all of the expense for building up the welfare state. it is a fascinating story to see how the american economy is taking a real parallel today in 2009 with the same course of action that was taken back in the great depression.
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members of congress right now. very pertinent to what we are doing. if we are going to apply the principles of big government intervention we see how it played out in the 1930's. prolonged. the forgotten. plus we have been able to here from her personally. we had her here. speaking at a luncheon. he had not yet written liberty and tyranny. but since the book there have been so much excitement in washington about that. and i am hopeful that he will come back and allow us to here from him personally. that is the number-one book that i am encouraging all americans to read. >> to read more summer reading lists visit our web site.
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>> guy mcpherson is a professor at the university of arizona and he is the author of "living with fire." is there a national fire policy? >> there is, actually, a national fire policy. it developed during the clinton administration. it has largely been abandoned. what we currently have is a very fractured said of disconnected policies that don't really hang together very well. we have something, but we don't pay very much attention to it. >> is it a good thing, in your view? >> absolutely. and particularly of the policy allows enough flexibility for considerable variation. >> excuse me. so, yes, we should have policies that are brought.
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enough to encompass all acres. there also has to be enough latitude there. >> what are the benefits and the negative signs of fire breaking out in the source? >> sure. the benefits include advantages upset a number of species that evolved in the presence. and foremost because systems in the western united states fire was not prevalent and frequent occurrence. all the species in fire prone systems evolve in the presence of periodically this catastrophe as we like to call it these days. so without a fire they just go extinct at some point. the fire is great if we are interested in maintaining biological diversity. typically and elevations that are not drive or cold.
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in the tundra and that doesn't fire didn't happen this directly. it's extremely detrimental when we do have fire. fires and that does is now because it brought in a lot of fuel. exotic grasses. that provided the fuel. historically not present. now we have fires. devastating for the native species. >> what do you want people to take away from your book, and "living with fire: ecology and policy for the twenty-first century"? >> well, that fire is neither good nor bad. for 100 years we have been treating fire as mostly bad. for 80 of those years we treated it as always bad. smokey bear was carrying the message of the day. we also want to get across the idea that fire has its place in almost all landscapes in north america the untypically western north america. a natural process. it occurs there very frequently. so let's not throw the baby out
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with the bath water, as it were. or on the other hand introducing fire into all systems where it was not present. fire occurred at a specific season and at that specific frequency at a specific intensity. we need to pay attention to the sorts of things. >> i teach conservation biology. i spent most of my time teaching a course called poetry inside out. inside the jail and also of the juvenile detention facility and outside in my honors course. we have this public conversations that last entire semester's. >> professor at university of arizona. his book is living with fire. >> i had no desire to do it. that was the condition in which i agree to take this on.
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>> coming up next book tv presents after words. an hour-long program where we invite guests to come interview authors. this week tierney cahill discusses her book. the story of her improbable campaign for u.s. representative on a dare from her sixth christians. with only $7,000 in the campaign staff of 12 year olds to won the 2000 democratic primary in nevada's second district. she discusses her book with district of columbia delegate eleanor holmes norton. >> well, welcome to c-span. ms. cahill, welcome to washington. >> they do so much. >> this is the book. "ms. cahill


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