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!