Thursday, August 14, 2008

Asshat of the Day - August 14th, 2008

Today's Asshat of the Day is our reigning champion, the Bush administration, and one of its Horsemen (or Horsewomen) of the Idiocalypse, the Secretary of Transportation, Mary E. Peters.

The article, you ask? Here we are: Drop in Miles Driven Is Depleting Highway Fund; Loan From Mass Transit Is Urged

Let's get into it...
The secretary, Mary E. Peters, said the short-term solution would be for the Highway Trust Fund’s highway account to borrow money from the fund’s mass transit account, a step that would balance the accounts as highway travel declines and use of mass transit increases. Both trends are being driven by the high price of gasoline and diesel fuel.

Now... this isn't all Mrs. Peters' fault; part of it has to do with the colossal lack of infrastructure spending that accompanied the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude that has seemed to dominate American politics for the last few decades. Always better to offer a tax cut than to actually keep the infrastructure in good shape, eh?


Things are now broke. They need fixing. However, the US government is also broke. Hence the rampant borrowing from Social Security, among other funds. This idea, though, beggars credulity.

You depend on a tax from the people who use the highway system to maintain the highway system. Fewer people now use the system. As the free market economy that the administration professes to be such a fan of would dictate, if fewer people use a service, but the service quality is fixed at a certain level, the price to those few should increase. Ergo, a rise in the gas tax to support infrastructure spending. It's the same in any profession - the more specialized a tool becomes, the more it costs an individual user.

Heck, you could even make more roads toll roads electronically; we did it with the 407 and that road is self-supporting now.

But both of those involve raising taxes or charging people more money, which the Republicans are traditionally against. What to do, what to do... Oh, I've got it! Let's take money from the transit system that desperately need infrastructure improvements, right now, and spend it on roads that they don't use! Brilliant! Only pinko Commies ride public transit anyway!

Whoa... a few too many shots of sarcanol there. Bit dizzy.

So, Mrs. Peters: yes, the highways, bridges, and roads need improvement. They've been needing it for a long time. But borrowing from another fund isn't a solution, because the transit system is going to need that money. You're just going to have to bite the bullet and raise taxes. Hell, your administration has the lowest approval rating in US History - what's another few points?

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