Well, we may have to leave off that part about the meaning of life and just leave it to Monty Python. Nonetheless, there is a communication gap and there may be a realistic way to bridge it. An alert reader sent a link to an excellent interview on Infrastructurist.
Matt Dellinger spoke with William Lind, director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation and the co-author, with the late Paul Weyrich, of the recent book Moving Minds: Conservatives and Public Transportation.
This expansive Q&A covers many topics of interest to those of us who propose balanced transportation policies. Among those issues is one often hashed out in our comments section.
Another idea that’s pervasive is that public transportation is subsidized but the gas tax fully pays for highways.
That’s a powerful argument the libertarians make to conservatives, and it’s bunk. The current dominance of roads is due to massive subsidization by government which through most of the twentieth century competed with privately owned, privately operated railways including streetcar systems that had to pay taxes. Every conservative understands very quickly what happens when you tax one mode and subsidize the other. The taxed mode disappears and the subsidized mode becomes dominant. Nothing about our current imbalance in transportation is a free market outcome. Not in the slightest.
The notion that the gas tax covers all highway expenses is a notion that will send any state Governor into fits of laughter. The highways require enormous support, local state and federal, that goes well beyond what gas taxes bring in. So it’s not a question of a subsidized mode versus an unsubsidized mode.
Lind also expresses skepticism over federal spending on true European-style high speed rail and, consistent with our philosophy (proving beyond all possible speculation that it must be the correct position), and proposes improvements in regional rail networks by increasing speeds to the 110 mph range.
There is much material on local transit issues, but the philosophic issues are well handled and broadly applicable. It’s a must read.