SIR – Alaska is very different from the rest of the United States, and this difference affects the fitness of Mrs Palin to be vice-president. Fundamentally, Alaska is a pre-modern welfare state, where the economy is almost purely extractive (with the exception of defense and tourism). If you don’t kill it, dig it or cut it down you don’t get it. From that perspective “bridges to nowhere” are simply further extractions, or tokens for transfer payments from the rest of us, as are the annual payments to residents from North Slope oil revenues.
Not surprisingly Alaska is largely an innovation-free zone. It is also the only world that Mrs Palin has known. Along with her chronological and career inexperience this background renders her unprepared to lead the country.
Professor of nuclear science and engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology