One of my favorite T/F questions is: "If you can't do something right, then you shouldn't do it at all." The answer, if you interpret "doing something right" as maximizing benefits (i.e., doing it until marginal benefits are equal to zero), is false. Most activities should be done a bit inadequately, where marginal benefits equal marginal costs. Perfection should not be a goal.
One example is the goal of the 1972 Clean Water Act to eliminate all discharges into navigable waterways (or something like that). Here is another:
Mark Teague Road near Pittsboro in rural Chatham County is a half-mile-long strip of gravel that cuts through some woods and then dead-ends at a vacant brick ranch house surrounded by farmland.
The state road looks more like a driveway for Elizabeth Hopp, whose family lives in one of three houses off the lane. When crews showed up recently to widen the road bed, build erosion control for a pond and get ready to pave the road with asphalt, she wondered why the state was upgrading a road that goes nowhere. The cost to taxpayers: $225,000.
“I don’t really see the need for this,” Hopp said. “Maybe this is some kind of progress, but it seems sort of strange to me.”
The state’s deputy chief roads engineer, Jon Nance, said the Department of Transportation is just following orders from the General Assembly.
Indeed, DOT will spend millions this year in an ongoing mission, launched in 1989 by lawmakers and then-Gov. Jim Martin, to improve and pave every state-maintained dirt and gravel road in North Carolina.
The state has spent hundreds of millions in the past two decades to blacktop 13,000 miles of roads, bringing asphalt to the driveways of nearly 200,000 homes, DOT records show.
Crews are still at it and now are reaching the bottom of the list, with only 1,842 miles still eligible for paving. They are working in the most rural and least populated spots, such as Mark Teague Road, and in hard-to-pave, mountainous terrain in the west, such as at Lower North Fork Road in Jackson County near the Tennessee border.
Note that the state of North Carolina is not flush with cash.