User Fees versus Rip-Off Schemes – I Favor Toll Roads Instead of Gas Taxes

A Toll Booth Would Pay To Fix This
A Toll Booth Would Pay To Fix This

Powerful people have reacted to the recent drop in gasoline priceses by asking for higher gasoline taxes. These powerful people can be conveniently divided into three disparate groups. Two of these three groups smell of pungent fertilizer and are truly deserving of ridicule and contempt. One group, however, raises a valid and intelligent issue that should be dealt with through condign intellect. I’ll at least attempt to handle the condign part as I explain below.

One group of these same people will board the private jets with 1,699 of their lucre-plated, well-lubricated buddies and kvetch about Global Warming in the comfy environs of Davos, Switzerland. While they are there, they will view the gorgeous mountain vistas while hovering aloft in helicopters to better see the decimating effects of somebody else’s carbon footprint on the verdant expanses of Blessed Gaea. So unless you are credulous enough and stupid enough to buy the whingings of Barack Obama, who warns us of the threat of Global Warming while sending his own family (pets included) on vacation to Hawai’i aboard private jet; we can consign this group of people to the same dung heap of dishonest American Environmentalism currently occupied by Al “Crazed Sex Poodle” Gore, Junior.

Another group of these people are the same type of people who loudly championed The Volstead Act. They hate the idea of Americans having too much freedom or too fun. Not accounting for his own occasional nip of bourbon, Former Senator Fritz Hollings recounted the kill-joy philosophy of those who seek to raise gas taxes purely to prevent Americans from having the freedom to drive more. He famously babbled “There’s too much consumin’ going on!” Barack Obama is somewhat more articulate as he echoes a similar sentiment below.

…if you go back to old habits and suddenly gas is back at $3.50, you are going to not be real happy,” Obama said. –CNN

Finally, having dismissed the intellectual poseurs, we meet with a serious set of proponents who actually have a morally decent motive behind their desire to raise taxes on gasoline. Gail Collins, once you sift through the trolling, makes some legitimate points that got past the editors and into the New York Times.

The gas tax raises much-needed money for roads and mass transit. Our roads, you may have noticed, are falling apart. Every time you hit a pothole, yell: “Raise the gas tax!”

Here Gail Collins raises an intelligent issue. American infrastructure is in decline along with the rest of America. It will get more dangerous, more expensive and less useful as we let it go to rot like an old Roman aqueduct. So let’s be nicer to Collins than she would ever actually consider being to us. Sometimes we can learn by admitting that even the hateful, agenda-driven jerks of the “Mainstream Media” can make an intelligent point. So Gail’s point stands. It’s her mechanism to address it that misses like another New York Knicks air ball.

Here’s what we need to do to fix the problem Gail Collins has credibly and accurately identified. We stick a toll booth on any busy road or logistically vulnerable bottle-neck. We then use this money for two purposes. One, we fix the roads. Two, we populate a sinking fund and pay off the debt indentures.

I’ll pay for whatever damage I inflict to I-635 as I commute around town. That’s fair wear-and-tear. If the USG orders me to drive my personal vehicle somewhere to perform duty, they pay for what that does to my car. I have no problem paying for what my car does to a government road. I don’t want to have to pay for roads, bridges and commuter trains in places that I have no reason to ever visit. That’s what would happen if we address the infrastructure problem as suggested by Gail Collins.

So if you agree with Gail and Barack and think US infrastructure is in tenuous shape, there is a solution. Make the people who use this infrastructure pay for it. People allergic to high road tolls will drive less and then the tolls can go back down. The infrastructure bonds currently issued by Jefferson County, AL make for poor quality John Paper and even worse of an investment. Stick a toll booth on the main drag, fill up a sinking fund, and even Jefferson County shouldn’t quite be corrupt enough to screw up something that basic and simple. If the real problems here are decaying infrastructure, and unworkable public finances, user fees; not gasoline taxes, will address the issue at hand in a fair and equitable manner.

Image Credit: DonBlackwell.com