There is so much going on over at the Bike Portland Blog in regards to this conversation of taxes for roadways, who pays what, and how much, and etc., etc., etc. The conversation is long, often tired, and of course tons of things devolve into ad hominem attacks all over the place. I decided it was time I weighed in, since this is a topic dear to me, as it really makes me rather irate how many people know very little or nothing about how our infrastructure is currently built, maintained (or not), and deemed worthwhile.
Fact #1 – The Road System is NOT a product of free-market economics, it is an operationally socialist government mechanism by almost every definition.
Just to start off with the first FACT, our road system is NOT a product of free-market economics, open market, fair market, or anything of that nature. By morale compass alone Republicans and Libertarians, if they honestly do support free-markets, should absolutely DESPISE our road system network. Less than 1% is privately owned, maybe 5-10% of it even has a decent return on investment, and about that same 5-10% actually gets appropriately funded and maintained. Our road system in the United States of America is easily a prime example of socialized (socialism/socialist definition available) ownership and operation by the Government of an industry function, or at least something that in the past was largely an industry function in the United States.
With that fact, that our road system is a socialized operation, one can see obvious reasons certain things are so convoluted in bureaucracy. The road system is allocated, funded, and maintained as a pull politics bartering tool within the White House and state Governments. The Federal Government has even used the road funding mechanisms to black mail states such as Louisiana to push through economic trade regulations that don’t meet intra-state commerce clauses. A prime example is the Federal Government putting thousands and thousands of bars, restaurants, and other establishments in Louisiana out of business by forcing the state to push their drinking age up to 21 from 18. The point of this being that this encroachment of state rights was done through black mail by our operationally socialist government road system.
Fact #2 – The road system is NOT primarily paid for with gas taxes, which fall drastically short of funding our entire road network.
Gas taxes make up enough to fund primarily the Interstates, and at that, they don’t complete 100% of the budget and often require additional sources to meet 100% of budget costs.
Should all citizens continue to fund the massive subsidies provided to drivers?