www.mozilla.com Weather Central
Voices
Headlines

No right to misbehave -12/18/2014, 10:09 AM

Pompeo deserves thanks -12/18/2014, 10:00 AM

Executive orders -12/18/2014, 10:00 AM

Attack on Pearl Harbor -12/18/2014, 10:00 AM

Christ's role -12/18/2014, 9:59 AM

Governing vs. giving -12/18/2014, 9:58 AM

Adapting to change -12/17/2014, 10:30 AM

Brownback's 'vision' -12/17/2014, 10:30 AM

Young at heart -12/17/2014, 10:29 AM

Newman provides western Kansas education -12/17/2014, 10:29 AM

Big banks win again -12/16/2014, 9:37 AM

Securing the future of aerospace in Kansas -12/16/2014, 9:36 AM

The future with Brownback -12/16/2014, 9:36 AM

White Christmas, red Christmas -12/15/2014, 9:20 AM

A reason to celebrate -12/15/2014, 9:20 AM

Building a competitive opposition party -12/14/2014, 4:33 PM

Without religious freedom, there won't be peace -12/14/2014, 4:33 PM

Flying Hays later -12/14/2014, 4:33 PM

Allowing torture -12/12/2014, 10:11 AM

Racing to Lake Wobegone -12/12/2014, 10:10 AM

What's rule of law? -12/12/2014, 10:10 AM

Media bias -12/11/2014, 10:13 AM

It's not about race -12/11/2014, 10:12 AM

A new civil war -12/11/2014, 10:12 AM

Climate catastrophe -12/11/2014, 10:12 AM

The case of Scott Panetti -12/10/2014, 10:14 AM

Word origins -12/10/2014, 10:14 AM

Kansas will bleed -12/10/2014, 10:13 AM

Minions' mess -12/10/2014, 10:13 AM

Prescription farmers -12/10/2014, 10:12 AM

Vaccines make sense -12/9/2014, 11:02 AM

Net neutrality -12/9/2014, 8:45 AM

Tell me it isn't so? -12/9/2014, 2:53 PM

Willing to do without -12/9/2014, 8:45 AM

KDOT funding -12/9/2014, 8:45 AM

The man elected -12/8/2014, 10:00 AM

Understanding white privilege -12/8/2014, 10:00 AM

Making sure crime doesn't pay -12/8/2014, 10:00 AM

Do Kansans really care? -12/7/2014, 3:17 PM

Core freedoms under fire -12/7/2014, 3:17 PM

Nation needs new approach -12/6/2014, 3:17 PM

Tons of fun on tap -12/5/2014, 9:48 AM

A Christmas plea -12/5/2014, 9:48 AM

School privatization via convenient debt -12/5/2014, 9:48 AM

Race in America -12/4/2014, 10:20 AM

The gift of petroleum -12/4/2014, 10:20 AM

A Charlie Brown Christmas miracle -12/4/2014, 10:19 AM

Care and feeding of farm animals -12/3/2014, 10:19 AM

Let's talk about 'black on black' crime -12/3/2014, 10:19 AM

Sports complex -12/3/2014, 4:14 PM

-12/3/2014, 10:00 AM

Kudos to school for bilingual efforts -12/2/2014, 11:42 AM

Wages prompting county workers to seek better jobs -12/2/2014, 11:42 AM

County employees urge public's support -12/2/2014, 11:42 AM

'Horrible Bosses 2' disappoints;  new 'Star Wars' trailer thrills -12/2/2014, 10:19 AM

Power rests with House speaker -12/2/2014, 10:01 AM

Climate change -12/2/2014, 10:38 AM

Ferguson's pain -12/1/2014, 10:21 AM

Out of sight, or out of luck? -12/1/2014, 10:20 AM

Blacks, whites need to wake up to injustice -12/1/2014, 10:20 AM

Kansas turns South -11/30/2014, 5:33 PM

When should holy days become holidays? -11/30/2014, 5:33 PM

Future of health care -11/30/2014, 5:33 PM

Giving thanks -11/27/2014, 3:08 PM

Give a child hope and a home -11/26/2014, 9:12 AM

Holiday shopping -11/26/2014, 9:12 AM

Today's faults -11/26/2014, 7:45 AM

Meatless Mondays -- forget about it -11/26/2014, 7:45 AM

Cosby, serial rapist? That's a lot to forgive -11/26/2014, 7:45 AM

Letting it fly -11/26/2014, 7:45 AM

KanCare oversight -11/26/2014, 7:45 AM

Giving thanks for blessings as Kansans -11/25/2014, 10:11 AM

Local fixes to local problems? -11/25/2014, 10:11 AM

Energy security -11/25/2014, 10:11 AM

Elite contempt for ordinary Americans -11/24/2014, 9:12 AM

Pipeline politics -11/24/2014, 10:04 AM

They killed Peter Kassig -11/24/2014, 10:04 AM

Going from bad to good on election night -11/23/2014, 6:38 PM

Free Speech can be shield or a sword -11/23/2014, 6:38 PM

Dodge City merger -11/22/2014, 6:38 PM

House mis-speaker -11/21/2014, 9:50 AM

Obama vs. Us -11/21/2014, 9:50 AM

Really smart conservatives love public debt -11/21/2014, 9:50 AM

Official welcome -11/20/2014, 9:52 AM

Control freaks in the U.S. -11/20/2014, 1:24 PM

How did we get here? -11/20/2014, 9:52 AM

An open letter to the GOP -11/19/2014, 10:03 AM

Successful farming -11/19/2014, 10:03 AM

Getting personal -11/18/2014, 9:15 AM

Teachers, not facilities -11/18/2014, 9:15 AM

Schoolteachers and the Legislature -11/18/2014, 9:06 AM

Water vision -11/18/2014, 9:06 AM

I see wonderful things -11/17/2014, 9:26 AM

Politics prevail over truth in Kansas elections -11/17/2014, 9:26 AM

Progress at mall -11/16/2014, 5:22 PM

Opinions on the general election -11/16/2014, 5:22 PM

Why are schools afraid of freedom? -11/16/2014, 5:22 PM

Educational fraud -11/14/2014, 9:42 AM

The American public gets smart -11/14/2014, 9:41 AM

State revenue -11/13/2014, 4:48 PM

myTown Calendar

SPOTLIGHT
[var top_story_head]

Who'll build the roads?

Published on -7/17/2014, 8:37 AM

Printer-friendly version
E-Mail This Story

Near the site of a $5.8 million highway project last week, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, complained: "Tea party members don't think there's a federal role in transportation."

If only most tea party members were that radical.

While Brown and other big-government folks worry Republicans will cut spending, Republicans debate adding another $10.5 billion to the Highway Trust Fund to keep it going another year -- without deciding how to reform it.

Now, there's no doubt some roads and bridges need work. But too little transportation money spent by government goes to building and repairing roads.

As Cato Institute transportation analyst Randal O'Toole points out, the construction of the nation's federal highways largely was complete in 1982, but instead of reducing the gas tax that helped pay for them, Congress raised the tax and spent much of the money on things such as bicycle trails and "mass" transit.

"Building an interstate highway system," writes O'Toole, "has been replaced by a complex and often contradictory set of missions: maintaining infrastructure, enhancing mobility, reducing air pollution, discouraging driving, supporting transit, building expensive rail lines, promoting economic development, stimulating the economy, stopping climate change and ending urban sprawl, among others."

Then, when roads deteriorate, the federal government laments it doesn't have enough money.

We should have known an inevitable side effect of a distant central government spending these billions is road construction isn't determined by local supply and demand. Often "mass" transit carries few passengers, while nearby roads are congested.

Urban planners, who work closely with government and distrust markets, are convinced people will leave comfortable suburban homes and flock to dense urban areas with walkable streets, if government just pours money into mass transit.

But even after Congress spent billions on public transportation projects, even rebuilding the downtowns of some cities to make them more pedestrian-friendly, it turned out most Americans wanted to stay in their suburban homes.

Then urban planners assumed adults would relocate to cities once their kids left for college or jobs, but a recent Fannie Mae report found baby boomers are not doing that. The planners are surprised. They shouldn't be.

"After all," writes O'Toole, "baby boomers' parents overwhelmingly preferred to 'age in place' rather than move when their children left home. Why should baby boomers be any different?"

It turns out government spent your billions on urban transit based on surveys that asked people if they want to live in "walkable communities."

Of course people said yes. Who doesn't want to live in a neighborhood where you can "walk to shops?" But if they'd asked, "Are you willing to spend about four times as much per square foot to live in a city instead of a spacious suburban home?" they'd get different answers.

Now, I live the way bureaucrats want you to live. I have an apartment in New York City, one of the most densely populated places on Earth. I take the subway system to get around and sometimes ride my bicycle. I like living this way. But bureaucrats shouldn't try to force you to live the way I live.

In fact, herding people into denser urban areas sounds suspiciously like something that makes life easier for the bureaucrats themselves. It was a popular idea with communist planners in Romania and North Korea. Mass transit and "planned spaces" appeal to the bureaucratic mind.

How about going the opposite route? Let people live where they choose, let private entities build roads and mass transit (many roads and even most of New York City's subways were built privately), and let user fees from commuters pay for roads and transit.

There is justice in that idea: People who love to drive will pay for it, and those who don't want to pay have an extra incentive to move to those urban spaces planners like so much.

In a market, everybody wins. With government planners, it's always, "My way or the highway."

John Stossel is host of "Stossel"

on the Fox Business Network.

digg delicious facebook stumbleupon google Newsvine
More News and Photos

Associated Press Videos