Monday, February 15, 2010

Like Talking to a Wall

Winsonsin Republican gubernatorial candidates want to cancel the state's high speed rail project even though it has already received federal funding. Upper Midwestern folk in Minnesota and Wisconsin have always seemed a bit more savvy than people living to their south, so I doubt this will get huge support.

But it's annoying to see the line that always gets repeated about "non-riders subsidizing the riders" of the train/bus/subway. It's bullshit. The gas tax does not pay for all road construction. The Interstate Highway was constructed out of the general fund, so therefore non-users were subsidizing it. Ryan Avent sums it up well here.

It seems like no matter how many it gets said, some people don't hear it. What is it about mass transit and rail that makes even seemingly intelligent libertarians such as Ron Paul miss forest for the trees?

1 comment:

  1. I don't see how the fact of non-users of interstates subsidizing users invalidates the argument that such an arrangement is unfair. Moreover, I think we can both imagine an alternate reality where the interstates were never built and the world is a better place.

    Also, I think Ron Paul's article is correctly read as a warning against trusting that the government will exit the business of making automobiles quickly and at a profit. It's also a statement against the policy of propping up certain businesses that can't turn a profit, which you could reasonably argue is a good thing in the case of trains. But not in the case of manufacturing cars.