A reader writes:
I'm currently reading The Power Broker by Robert Caro, probably the definitive biography of Robert Moses, and came across this passage, referring to one of Moses's first political battles, a battle over eminent domain in Long Island, that struck me:
"If ends justified means, and if the important thing in building a project was to get it started, then any means that got it started were justified. Furnishing misleading information about it was justfied; so was underestimating its costs.
Misleading and underestimating, in fact, might be the only way to get a project started...But what if you didn't tell the officials how much the projects would cost? What if you let the legislators know about only a fraction of what you knew would be the projects' ultimate expense?
Once they had authorized that small initial expenditure and you had spent it, they would not be able to avoid giving you the rest when you asked for it. How could they? If they refused to give you the rest of the money, what they had given you would be wasted, and that would make them look bad in the eyes of the public. And if they said you had misled them, well, they were not supposed to be misled. If they had been misled, that would mean that they hadn't investigated the projects thoroughly, and had therefore been derelict in their own duty...Once a Legislature gave you money to start a project, it would be virtually forced to give you the money to finish it."
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