Idaho's Weekly Journal of Local & National Commentary Week 2815


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by Free Market Duck

The Idaho Transportation Solution
May 5, 2009

Boise, ID – Dear Gov. Otter and the very esteemed members of the Idaho State Legislature:

   Gov. Butch Otter recently wrote in the Idaho Statesman, “Maintaining roads is about protecting lives.”  I’m sure all 105 Idaho State Legislators would agree.  And I’m sure a large majority of Idaho taxpayers would also agree.

   So, that being the case, I suggest we immediately stop putting our school children on big yellow buses riding around on dangerous roads, bridges, and highways, as a temporary safety measure until the roads are repaired – thus saving $75 million per year, the annual budget for bus transportation in Idaho's public school system.

   $75 million?  Hey, that rings a bell.

   Simultaneously, and temporarily of course, we should transfer that same $75 million annually saved from the transportation budget for Public Education buses (because the kids won’t be riding those buses, right?) to Idaho’s general road and highway repair budget, and thus we don’t have to raise our good citizens’ taxes.

   Hesto presto, problem solved.

   “What?” cry all the staunchest of Public Education supporters.  “Transfer Public Education's transportation money to solve a general transportation problem?”

   But, as one can clearly see, this is not just a General Transportation Problem.  Public Education Transportation and General Transportation are one and the same.   The General Transportation Problem involves our school children.  Since school children won’t be riding buses anyway – until the roads, bridges, and highways are fixed, unless you don’t really care about the lives of our children – what would Pub Ed do with the extra $75 million anyway?

   Hey, transportation is transportation, the school buses drive around more than half empty anyway – another issue for another time -- and what better way for the parents, teachers, school administrators, the Governor, and the state legislators to expend transportation money from one source than on the very same transportation problem from which we have no other viable source?

   Plus, don’t’ forget the safety of the kids.  Also, Mom and Dad need to drive to work on safe roads, too.

   I ask you, dear Statespeoples and Governor, why should we allow our most sacred possession, our children, to ride big yellow school buses when everybody admits that it is very dangerous and, as Gov. Butch Otter has correctly pointed out, “Maintaining roads is about protecting lives?”

   The above solution solves everybody’s transportation problems in one fell swoop:  (1) it protects our children's lives, (2) we move $75 million from one transportation budget to another, and (3) no need to raise taxes or fees.

   However, there is a 4th benefit that we can obtain by taking the above temporary approach.  It buys us time to think out of the box and come up with better solutions to permanently solve our future Transportation Problem, including the solicitation of private highway maintenance companies who will pay Idaho for the privilege of repairing, maintaining, implementing new technology, and keeping Idaho’s roads and highways safe.  Yes, Martha, full disclosure, they will charge tolls, just like you must pay for your cell phone usage.  Would you rather be taxed for your cell phone?

   As a supposed Libertarian, Gov. Butch Otter should be open to using the free market and private enterprise to solve Idaho’s road problems.  As fiscal Conservatives for limited government and low taxation, the majority of Idaho’s state Legislature should also be open to putting out to bid, road repair contracts, to such companies as Macquerie of Australia, who paid Chicago $500 Million extra – which they put into a Rainy Day Fund -- to obtain a 99-year lease to maintain their expressways.  And what Democrat who is concerned with our children’s safety and education would oppose an immediate cessation of school buses driving around on dangerous roads – as a temporary solution, of course – to help solve our current Transportation Problem?

   The road repair money already exists.  We do not require more taxation or fees.  Moving $75 million from Pub Ed transportation to General Transportation is not technically difficult, and this solution is a win-win-win for everybody concerned.  What are we waiting for?

  Meanwhile, how about everybody start thinking out of the box for a more permanent future solution for Idaho’s road maintenance?  Remember, it is not axiomatic that road repair must be financed by taxation, such as fuel taxes, or registration fees, both of which add layers and layers of inefficient government bureaucracy.  There are private enterprise solutions that exist today – visit Colorado, Illinois, and other states with privately maintained roads -- and of course we will pay tolls, either electronically, monthly, weekly or pay as you go.  But the private companies have an incentive to be more efficient, or they go out of business – unlike government bureaucracies, which continue to expand to meet whatever budget is allotted to them, whether they need it or not.

   By the way, I have to ask:  who came up with the magic annual Idaho Transportation Repair Number of $240 million per year?  Are you sure?  After thinking out of the box, we should rethink our premises.

   In summary, we used to think that the telephone and airline industries had to exist as government monopolies but now, since deregulation, we know better.  Competition brought us cell phones and advanced communications and lowered prices for both phones and air fares.  There is nothing inherent in road maintenance that exempts it from the laws of free market economics.  (Will someone please inform President Barack Obama before he bankrupts the entire nation with more government intervention and hyper-inflation of our non-backed Pulp Fiction Dollar?)


Your Humble Servant
FM Duck

P.S.  Please don’t accept federal bailout money for road repair or anything else.  The premise of Keynesian socialist economics that one can “Stimulate” an economy with a “Multiplier Effect” of every one federal dollar being able to create $1.57 in national wealth is a Marxist Fairytale.  Multiplying the fake $1.57 times $3.5 trillion and dividing by the average union wage rate cannot create 4 million jobs for Team Obama or anybody else because the premises are incorrect.  It’s like pretending you can counterfeit the pink slip to your ’57 Chevy, sell a million copies in your neighborhood for $1,000 each, and pretend you can enrich everybody to the tune of $1 billion ($1,000 x a million) with the collateral of one ’57 Chevy.  Welcome to the subprime housing mess.  It’s called fractional reserve banking by the Federal Reserve, or, in this case, Fractional Reserve No Chevys, in the same way that a Federal Reserve Note is not backed or redeemable in gold or any other hard commodity.  Your acceptance of federal “stimulus” money – which it isn’t -- merely encourages Washington to hyper-inflate our Pulp Fiction Dollar until the unit value eventually collapses to zero.  This is what happened to the Weimar Republic in Germany in the 1920’s in which they printed quintillions of Reich Marks -- on one side to save the cost of ink -- until the entire middle class was wiped out in nine years and they burned Renten Marks, trillion Mark notes, for heat because it was cheaper than firewood.

   Starting to sound familiar?

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