Monday, August 20, 2007

Bigger subsidy: roads or mass transit?

To hear the Strib tell it, only drivers of single-passenger cars benefit from roads (Editorial: "Bipartisanship helps get transport funds," Saturday, August 18, 2007):
Our fundamental transportation problem, as a nation and as a metropolitan region, is that drivers don't pay anything close to the full cost of driving. Thirty-three percent of road and bridge costs in Minnesota, for example, are borne by general property taxpayers, not by the buyers of gasoline, license tabs or other car-related expenses. Indeed, if all the externalities associated with excessive driving were calculated -- from emergency rooms to air pollution, not to mention more contentious factors, like foreign wars -- the sum would be staggering and would compel us to reconsider our daily travel habits.

They forgot to include "manmade climate change" and lack of universal health care insurance to this list. So much for the "gatekeepers" at the Strib.

The Strib seems to suggest that general property taxpayers don't benefit from good roads, so they are subsidizing those evil automobile drivers. Even if we accept this canard as truth, intellectual honesty would demand that we acknowledge those heavily-taxed general property taxpayers who also drive a car certainly benefit from good roads and bridges. Further, anyone who receives postal mail, who buys anything at a retail store, who eats food at a restaurant or purchased at a farmer's market, takes delivery of an online purchase, receives home delivery of the Star Tribune, checks out a book from the Minneapolis Central Library, rides a Metro Transit bus or school bus, or takes a taxi all benefit from good roads and bridges.

Conversely, none of these groups benefit from light rail trains. Would the Legislature please grant an exemption to these oppressively-taxed groups from propping up economically unsustainable light rail trains, which benefit only a small percentage of the population to the detriment of the roads and bridges that we all depend on?

1 comment:

Jim Rongstad said...

Maybe the general property tax payers wouldn't have to pay so much if government vehicles, including buses, were not exempt from gas taxes and license fees.