Aargh! Argh! and Argh!

Aaaaargh!

It’s long been a dream of mine that national conservative publications would one day take notice of Bacon’s Rebellion and my brilliant application of fiscal-conservative and free-market thinking to state and local issues. At long last, I have been noticed. The irony is that Jim Geraghty, author of National Review‘s Morning Jolt, has pegged me as a greenie!

How’s that? Global Warming skeptic Jim Bacon a greenie? All I did was analyze  Governor Bob McDonnell’s transportation funding package yesterday through the lens of economic logic and free-market principles.

Here’s what Geraghty wrote:

The greens are likely to scream bloody murder, as shown on the blog, Bacon’s Rebellion: “The new tax would punish pedestrians, telecommuters, cyclists, carpoolers and mass transit riders, who are doing the virtuous thing of driving less, while subsidizing the voracious appetites of drivers.”

Here’s the thing: All of those virtuous non-drivers still get the benefit of all of those roads and bridges that the state maintains; those groceries don’t just magically appear on the supermarket shelves, nor do the employees of every business they use just teleport into their jobs. So if transportation benefits everyone — I seem to recall Elizabeth Warren emphasizing how universal the benefit of roads and bridges are this past summer — why shouldn’t everyone pay for them?

To repeat a phrase I used in my original post, Aargh! Aargh! and Aargh! When a National Review writer approvingly quotes the fatuous logic of Elizabeth Warren, there is no hope for the Republic!

Yes, roads and other transportation infrastructure benefit all of us. So does the Internet. Should we give away Internet access for free and pay for it by means of the sales tax? Cell phones benefit all of us, too. Should we pay for them collectively by means of a sales tax? The economy couldn’t possibly function without electricity. Should we pay for that by means of a sales tax?

News flash! The laws of supply and demand apply to transportation just like anything else. When you subsidize something (as in, paying for it by means of a sales tax rather than a user fee like a gas tax), people perceive it as free and demand a greater quantity of it than they would if they had to pay for it. In the context of roads, that means people drive more than they would otherwise, creating more congestion and increasing the clamor for more road projects and even higher taxes! Conversely, shifting the tax burden to the public punishes people who place less demand on the transportation system — those who walk, bike, carpool, telecommute, ride buses, etc. The result will be to coax some people back into their cars…. creating more congestion and increasing the clamor for more roads and higher taxes. Bob McDonnell’s plan will make Virginia’s roads worse, not better.

This is not hard, people! This is economics 101! If a Democrat had submitted such a cockamamie scheme, National Review would have been quick to label him, and rightfully so, as a tax-and-spend liberal!

– JAB

6 Responses to Aargh! Argh! and Argh!

  1. If you are expecting rational thinking from those on the right these days, you ARE out of touch.

    How any Conservative could defend a scheme like McDonnell is proposing, which is a thinly-veiled bail and switch tax increase just tells you how out of control some in the Conservative movement have become as of late.

    the right-wing-echo chamber has become a frenzy of disparate voices that helps explain just how much in disarray the right has become.

    When one faction or another of the GOP promises to hang every single one of the nominees for various administration cabinet posts – not on capabilities or experience – but supposed ideology.. you further understand the current state of the right – and it’s not a pretty sight.

  2. Does Geraghty support farm subsidies? After all, everyone eats. Therefore we need to have government provision of food.

  3. Jim – You appear to have fallen on the wrong side of the “broaden the tax base” mantra of the Republican party.

  4. “News flash! The laws of supply and demand apply to transportation just like anything else. ”

    Bass Ackwards. The law of supply and demand drives the level of commerce conducted and that drives the amount of driving that gets done.
    Driving is more the result of commerce than a form of commerce itself.

    People will not go out and arbitrarily drive more just because it is cheaper. Regardless of the price, they are not going anywhere unless they have some kind of business to conduct. On the flip side, if transportation is too expensive or too inconvenient, they will conduct less business, and the business they do conduct will cost more.

    A estimator for building contractor made this point to me. “I spend more than half my time just getting to the job sites to make the estimates. I cannot make as many estimates and I cannot win as many jobs.”

  5. ” People will not go out and arbitrarily drive more just because it is cheaper. Regardless of the price, they are not going anywhere unless they have some kind of business to conduct. On the flip side, if transportation is too expensive or too inconvenient, they will conduct less business, and the business they do conduct will cost more.”

    how do we fairly characterize the “commerce” that is engaged in by individuals driving to/from work every day in a SOV?

    is that the same kind of “commerce” as a truck delivering food or a doctor on his way to do a lifesaving operation or someone on their way to fix your furnace in 10 degree weather?

    when the roads are perceived as “already paid for” – then there is little or no discrimination with regard to the individual importance and value of each trip taken.

    Dynamically-priced lanes establishes a value for each trip and it does not really assign a value – it lets people make that determination as individuals and collectively.

    dynamic tolling would make perfect sense even if there was no profit motive and the road basically was operated as a non-profit but then of course, you’d have to figure out what to do with the money, eh?

    perhaps monthly rebates ? where each toll payer becomes essentially a share-holder who receives periodic dividends?

    I bet Hydra will like that idea, eh?

    ;-)

  6. Remember that line from “Full Metal Jacket?”

    “Inside every Baconaut is a PROGRESSIVE trying to get out!”

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