Sunday, April 11, 2010

Beware Your Socialist Roads

In a time when intellectual standards have dropped so low that any involvement of government in the lives of its citizens can be labelled “socialism,” it seem only appropriate to warn the U.S. populace against using its socialist roadways.

Here’s how the Carfree Times (always worth a read) March, 2010, issue lays out the facts, as supplied by that well known band of socialist agitators that is the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDoT). This will be old news to anyone who follows transportation issues, but assertions I’ve encountered over the years, like “my vehicle registration fee pays for my share of the roads” suggests that these facts need to be repeated over and over again until a lot more people have heard them. (Perhaps painting them on the roads would do the trick....)

Road Taxes vs. Road Expenditures

The Texas Department of Transportation republished an earlier study that confirms the general wisdom: roads are very expensive. This comes from a pro-pavement DoT that now admits that the capital costs for design, construction, and maintenance of roads far exceeds the total tax receipts allocated for highways.

The study estimated that gasoline taxes would have to be raised six-fold to bring revenue in line with expenditures. The cost of gasoline (currently $2.50/gallon) would have to rise to $4.35.

"Green" cars are seen as a problem in themselves. Their lower demand for fuel will actually exacerbate the highway budget crisis.

The study revealed that no road pays for itself in gas taxes and fees.

For example, in Houston, the 15 miles of SH 99 from I-10 to US 290 will cost $1 billion to build and maintain over its lifetime, while only generating $162 million in gas taxes. That gives a tax gap ratio of .16, which means that the real gas tax rate people would need to pay on this segment of road to completely pay for it would be $2.22 per gallon.

None of this is news, but it's interesting to see the truth seeping out in a state such as Texas.

"TxDot’s newsletter
Keep Texas Moving
20 November 2009
"TxDOT: No road pays for itself
Gas tax is not enough"
Houston Tomorrow
2 December 2009
"Do roads pay for themselves?
Progressive Railroading blog
6 December 2009

As the TxDoT newsletter article goes on to explain, “This is just one example, but there is not one road in Texas that pays for itself based on the tax system of today. Some roads pay for about half their true cost, but most roads we have analyzed pay for considerably less.”

Anyone who thinks this is somehow a mistake, or a problem caused by the use of some gas taxes for purposes other than maintaining roads, or just some weird quirk of how things are done in Texas (socialist hotbed that it is), need only consider the Interstate Highway System. It’s best known to many people as their “freeways.” The Interstates were built at a cost to the states of ten cents on the dollar. In other words, the federal government subsidized their construction to the tune of 90% of their cost.


  1. And yet these governments love to keep on building roads (even as they let exisiting roads deteriorate) and promote them as some kind of "gift" to the citizen.
    We have a fight here in Indiana over the countryside paving, home and business erasing, 3 billion dollar I-69 extension while our bridges are the worst in the nation.

  2. Best approach is not to buy what you do not have the money to buy. Our country is of course already underwater. I would make the suggestion that it is because everything is subsidized with money the government extracts from the tax payer to not only pay their salaries pensions and benefits, but to finish projects that may never be paid for.
    As far as the intellect of your average American I think this is less a biological issue and more laziness brought on by a socialist attitude. We have been moving towards socialism for decades with income tax and each and every social program to date. We now do not have to expect to pay for anything which is supposed to leave us extra money for for iphones and starbucks beverages. I think the furor we are experiencing is related to the current administrations willingness to fundamentally change democracy and the free market into a more socialized form of rule than every before. I do not believe that a representative republic can remain so in a socialist form of government.
    Tyranny is the eventual end of every system of government in the cycle of history. When greed infects capitalism to the point we eat each other or when arrogance and elitism rear their heads in socialism they all end in turmoil. As soon as the people rely on everyone other than themselves to supply the basic needs to sustain life on the planet.
    It is such a blessing to be in a country where everyone can freely express their ideas what I hope does not happen is the forcible silencing of opposing ideologies.
    The thing to keep in mind in this whole thing is that the Owls are unconcerned with our machinations.

  3. Billy, I’m afraid I can’t agree with much of what you say. For a start, we disagree about the definition of “socialism” - my dictionary defines it as “a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.” As to the ownership aspect of that definition, I see no basis for concluding that there’s any socialism operative here. As to being regulated by the community as whole, that’s what governments do. The only question is: To what extent, and in whose interest? Plainly, in the financial sector, the regulation of the previous decade was insufficient, suggesting that a socialist nation could have handled the matter better than we did.

    As to people not expecting to pay for anything, I’ve never met those people. Strikes me as pure rhetoric.

    With regard to taxation being a symptom of socialism, that fails basic tests like: Do other systems of government levy taxes. (Answer: yes.)

    "As soon as the people rely on everyone other than themselves to supply the basic needs to sustain life on the planet." I can’t imagine what you’re talking about here. If everyone relied on someone else to supply their basic needs (with the implication that therefore nobody supplied any of those needs) we'd all apparently have sat still and died-off long ago. This hasn't happened. Furthermore, societies are webs of dependencies. I can't supply my basic needs - I'm not a farmer, a road builder, a water treatment engineer, a garbage man, a doctor, or a member of a million other professions that make modern life as we know it possible. To not rely on anyone but myself, I'd have to be all those things. And, in calling myself self reliant, I'd have to ignore the fact that all those professions have taken decades, centuries, even millennia to reach their current state of practice - something for which I depended on countless generations of other people. Self-reliance is a myth that ignores the fact that we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. So, while I can’t supply my basic needs, I can program computers, which earns me the money to buy some of those basic-need services, and, where the services are too vast for any individual to fund (infrastructure), to pay some of the taxes that allow our society to provide those services. (Of course, I also pay for a small piece of the various commercial infrastructures I use.) So, I can't supply my basic needs, but I can pay my own way, provided that I ignore the cost of all the services provided to me by my society, and the cost of developing human civilization over the past 5,000 years or so.

    But all those points about self-reliance aside, the dictionary doesn't support your view of Socialism, and that's pretty much that as far as I'm concerned.