Sunday, August 05, 2007

Discussion on Infrastructure

In the wake of the I-35 tragedy my hometown newspaper(Madison, WI) recently ran an editorial placing blame on the federal government for the nations failing infrasture. Im not buying it.

Money quote:If the federal limits were not applied with an eye toward denying needed infrastructure funding to states, if the federal government accepted its responsibility to maintain the bridges, roads, levies and sewers of the United States, the death and destruction that come from neglect might well have been avoided. So under the Cap Times' constructed reality, State and local governments are waiting with baited breath as they are too incapacitated to do anything about their crumbling infrastructure. Perhaps this is why in 2004 Minnesota spent over $900 million on a light rail project. Or maybe the Cap Times wants to talk about about the Governor they endorsed using Wisconsin's powerful veto pen on a massive raid of the transportation fund.

The article goes on to "explain" that the Federal Government does not focus on basic services like infrastructure. Lets have some fun with that one, shall we? The Capitol Times has one of the most left-wing editorial boards in the country. They are always in favor of activist and progressive government. If America truly had limited Government and didn't go further and further beyond their basic responsibilities we would achieve the intentions (safe roads) of the Capitol Times.

If the editorial boards and the politicians want to get serious about improving the nations's infrastructure they should look to privatization. Jack Kemp once said "No one washes a rental car." Government has shown its ability to provide upkeep to its property. Private ownership would have every reason to keep their roads clean, sturdy, and safe.

With toll roads collecting revenue, we would have a superior system to the gas tax. First of all,toll roads are paid by the user rather than coerced from everyone who pays at the pump. Interstate users will largely be trucking companies and out of state visitors. A very progressive "tax". Second of all, we have a hard time knowing how much to charge in gas taxes. Fuel economy standards change over time and largely improve. Federal gas tax money comes with strings attached. That is why I say the toll road route looks more efficient. With improved technology, we do not need toll booths with large lines. It is now completely possible to put a detector on a car's windshield and charge them later. It is also possible to take photographs of every vehicle's license plate that passes.

I understand that private roads will by nature be somewhat of a monopoly,(impossible to build a competing road) and the apprehension of losing public control over roads to private companies. At the risk of sounding like a bumper sticker, I have more trust in those closest to the ground than I have in the central planners at the DOT.