Thursday, February 2, 2012

a counter-intuitive notion

From Atlantic online:

Why Your Prius Will Bankrupt Our Highways

FEB 2 2012, 9:45 AM 
Gas taxes have funded our roads for decades. But our fuel-efficient cars and tax-allergic Congress are leading to an infrastructure break-down. 
On Tuesday, House Republicans unveiled a highway spending bill stuffed full of red meat for their conservative base -- a Chipotle steak burrito wrapped in legislative language. It would bring the Keystone XL Pipeline back from the grave. It would gut funding for Amtrak and nix high-speed rail projects. And it would pay for its $260 billion price tag partly with royalties from expanded offshore oil drilling, including in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The drilling proposal alone probably makes this bill dead-on-arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate. But even if it's a political non-starter, it also shines a big, bright light on a critical problem. America's old system for funding its highways is breaking down like an old jalopy, and no politicians have offered up a good solution to fix it.
This isn't a new problem, but it's getting worse. Since back in the Eisenhower era, the federal government has maintained a Highway Trust Fund, paid for mostly by taxes on fuel, that helps cover the repair and construction of our country's roads, bridges, and mass transit. The idea was that drivers themselves should bear some of the cost the roads they used. Unfortunately, Congress hasn't raised the gas tax since 1993. Since then, inflation has eaten away at least a third of its value.....

the rest of the article is here:

The article concludes:

"If people who use roads aren't forced to pay for them, there's little the government can do to limit the amount of driving, or the wear and tear that would require more repairs.
"You know the old line about the Soviet Union's bread lines?" he asked me. "When you give something away for free, the only way to ration it is long lines."