Federal Highway Funds Frozen

The distribution of federal highway revenues to the states ended on Sunday night thanks to Congress’ failure to extend surface transportation funding. This means that transit agencies and highway departments may temporarily lack funds to pay their bills.

Democrats in Congress had proposed to extend funding through the end of the year as a part of a bill extending unemployment compensation. But Kentucky Republican Senator Jim Bunning objected to the unemployment bill, since there was no money to pay for it. So the House passed a bill extending transportation funding for four weeks, but Bunning objected to that as well. Bunning agreed yesterday to drop his objections, but the funds will remain frozen for a few more days.

As Antiplanner readers know, Congress authorizes federal funding for transportation in six-year increments. The last authorization passed in 2005 but was two years late, so it expired on September 30, 2009. Congress has extended it twice, and few think Congress will get around to a formal reauthorization before 2011. Gas taxes also must be reauthorized, but they are under different legislation, so motorists will not get to enjoy a temporary cessation of federal taxes.

Part of the problem is that the 2005 law authorized more spending than the federal government has been collecting in highway user fees. Late last year Congress had to supplement the fund with $8 billion out of general taxes. It is not as if it could simply cut spending, could it? Lawmakers predict that the fund will need another $20 billion infusion this year.

These supplements do not represent subsidies to highways. Congress diverts roughly 20 to 30 percent of highway user fees, or about $8 to $12 billion a year, to transit and other programs. Without those diversions, highways would be in better shape and no supplements from general funds would be needed.

These diversions began in 1982 and as they have increased, political leaders and transportation officials have lost the connection between users and transportation providers that should exist in a market economy. No longer do transportation officials think, “we should build this because users will pay for it.” Now most think, “if we subsidize this enough, someone will use it, and that makes it a success and deserving of even more subsidies.”

Supporters of more subsidies to transit, cycling, and other programs bristle when opponents use terms like “socialism” and “social engineering.” But it is pure socialism when government agencies can spend billions of dollars without any worries about whether user fees will cover those costs. And it is pure social engineering when those agencies justify such expenditures based on the supposed benefits from “coercing people out of their cars.”

So the shutdown of federal transportation funding is merely a symptom of much larger problems with the transportation portion of our economy. Really, why should transportation users have to pay a fee to the federal government that Congress then gets to redistribute to favored interest groups? Let’s just by-pass this and encourage transportation providers — whether highway, transit, airports, or whatever — to fund themselves exclusively out of fees collected from the users.

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27 thoughts on “Federal Highway Funds Frozen

  1. Mike

    Does the highway fund distinguish or limit between funds spent on interstate highways and state highways?

    (I am aware that the functional distinction may be largely arbitrary as concerns roads passing between metropoli, but commuter freeways in many areas started as, or continue to be, state highways.)

  2. Scott

    How about taking the Federal government completely out of of funding for transportation & many other items? Let each state raise money & decide where to spend?
    A fair fee/tax, based upon use would be prudent.

  3. ws

    ROT:“These supplements do not represent subsidies to highways. Congress diverts roughly 20 to 30 percent of highway user fees, or about $8 to $12 billion a year, to transit and other programs. Without those diversions, highways would be in better shape and no supplements from general funds would be needed.”

    ws: Some of the “diversions” you mentioned are justified, such as the Leaky Underground Storage Tank fund, which mitigates the environmental impact of leaky petroleum products underground (negative externality, for sure).

    http://www.epa.gov/oust/ltffacts.htm

    Anyways, the highways still get 55 billion in subsidies every year, compared to the 10 billion for transit. Yes, this topic is about the highway trust fund, but the HTF is just one area of funding for highways.

    The scapegoat of auto user fees not paying their way is mass transit and cycling — yet, even when one does minus those items out of the total slice of funding, highways still don’t come close to breaking even.

    http://www.subsidyscope.com/transportation/highways/funding/

  4. Scott

    ws,
    Regarding subsidies, suppose the ratio of 55:10 for roads:transit is correct.
    Should that be more in line to how people travel?
    Consider that over 80% adults have cars & that <4% use public transit regularly.
    (The ratio is even greater for miles traveled.)
    Should the subsidy ratio then be 200:10?

    Regardless of amount or terminology, for a program (highways) that over 80% use [as drivers], does it really matter if some funding is not direct?
    The majority of gov programs benefit far fewer than 80%.

    Don't forget that buses & delivery trucks use roads too.

  5. MJ

    I think the SubsidyScope estimates only apply to federal spending. That may be how they arrive at a figure of $10 billion for transit (as opposed to the $35 billion figure one would arrive at if they looked at direct subsidy spending by all levels of government). Applying the SubsidyScope framework would also have to account for things like treatment of capital (taxation, depreciation, risk assumption).

    The other issue is the questionable classification user vs. non-user revenue. One issue that their overview mentions that they treat all bond proceeds as non-user revenue, regardless of which revenue stream is used to secure the bonds.

  6. the highwayman

    MJ said: Gas taxes are an excise tax on fuel consumption.

    THWM: That’s still a tax collected at point of sale, which makes it a sales tax.

  7. the highwayman

    Scott said:
    ws,
    Regarding subsidies, suppose the ratio of 55:10 for roads:transit is correct.
    Should that be more in line to how people travel?
    Consider that over 80% adults have cars & that <4% use public transit regularly.
    (The ratio is even greater for miles traveled.)
    Should the subsidy ratio then be 200:10?

    Regardless of amount or terminology, for a program (highways) that over 80% use [as drivers], does it really matter if some funding is not direct?
    The majority of gov programs benefit far fewer than 80%.

    Don't forget that buses & delivery trucks use roads too.

    THWM: Then stop whining about trains & transit spending.

  8. msetty

    Highwayman, why are bothering arguing with Scott? All he has is rhetorical blather that refuses to recognize how we got to the sorry state of affairs in transportation in the first place, facilitated and greased by ‘gummit over the last 90 years.

    In response to his rhetoric on the other thread, I’ll say:

    (1) “trend is not destiny,”

    (2) just because people “like” things like single family houses and overuse of automobiles, that doesn’t mean avoiding the environmental and social negatives such gross over-dependence causes is justified from an ethical, moral and social justice standpoint (note: I didn’t say “political”)–gee, I love chocolate cake, too and megahouses filled with naked girls in the pool, but that doesn’t mean it should be my main food or that everyone can or would want to live in a megahouse with naked girls in the pool; and

    (3) the market mechanism is a wonderful thing, but it has NO moral standing–other values are just as important. Since Reagan enshrined it as our leading “value” over the past 30 years, U.S. society and culture has become far more corrupt.

    (4) EVERY law you can think of is some form of “social engineering” including the creation of property rights by the U.S. Constitution, which was “handed down” by a group of men in 1789, not by “natural law” or God, or aliens in cahoots with Ayn Rand, Von Mises, von Hayek or some other right wing nutjob.

    Hey Scott! How can we accurately judge just how people REALLY value driving, until all the negatives incurred are properly tallied against the activity? Sure, people benefit from driving, but in the U.S. most don’t pay anywhere near what the negatives really cost, either. Certainly, well, anecdotely anyway, people seem really sensitive to ANY increase in gasoline prices or direct costs of driving, perhaps because (1) most auto users are “captive” to the mode due to land use changes over the last 60 years; and perhaps (2) there is a sense that driving causes a lot of problems, but given human nature, most individuals understandably don’t want to give up a mostly “free” (sic) “benefit” they’re receiving despite the negatives that generally accrue to society as a whole. You can also see such touchiness in many communities whenever the idea of making previously “free” parking paid comes up (for example, a few years ago here in Napa, the County Supervisors talked a bit about charging well-heeled County employees for parking–employees who immediately went ballistic, at least rhetorically).

    That people “like” driving is just a mostly irrelevant rhetorical point until numbers can be attached. For the record, one CAN get some clue to how much people actually value driving from studies of so-called “PAYGO” car insurance, e.g., pay by the mile, not in annual lump sums. The estimate was an 8% reduction in miles traveled by switching around $250 billion+/- to mileage-based payment. That is, roughly a 50% increase in out-of-pocket costs results in a -0.15/-0.16 elasticity for driving. If all driving costs are considered, including financing and depreciation, this figure would be at least -0.30, and probably higher over the “long run”

    This also means that my idea for a $2,000 annual proxy charge per capita to offset the pernicious impacts of “free parking” should reduce driving by at least 20%-30%, perhaps more in the long run, given sufficient investment in alternatives such as transit, walking and bicycling.

    Litman has several papers on his website about PAYGO and other automotive pricing topics, e.g., http://www.vtpi.org.

  9. T. Caine

    Msetty has valid points. Being the status quo does not inherently canonize any practice beyond scrutiny. Driving itself was engineered into our society and catered to for decades in order to hold the unrivaled access and convenience that it now has outside of cities. Of course so many people drive. In many places planning and social routine has made not owning a car nearly impossible but that does not mean it is a system that cannot (or should not) be questioned or eventually altered/improved/replaced.

    I think in the end, there is no transit means that does not require government funding and federal oversight. It is not as though roads are any more profitable than trains are. All of these modes require aid to upkeep a system at a state or national scale. If “user fees” could cover the maintenance needed for our road systems than there would not be a need for a $20 billion infusion. In my mind, taking tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to prop up a car company (that failed in our marketplace) is a rather engineered vision of what our economy should be comprised of and how people should travel.

  10. msetty

    T. Caine said:
    If “user fees” could cover the maintenance needed for our road systems than there would not be a need for a $20 billion infusion.

    If you believe what the American Society of Civil Engineers says, gasoline taxes would probably have to be increased by $1.00 or more per gallon to bring JUST THE ROADS to a state of good repair–kinda like they have in Europe, where gasoline taxes produce a large surplus after road costs are subtracted. Of course, Europeans drive about 40% fewer miles annually per capita, so the strain on the road system from low value automobile trips isn’t nearly as great.

    But being Americans, I guess we’ve gained the expectation that everything is “free” (like parking), and we don’t have to pay. And if we can’t afford it, “charge it” like Chase Bank and others of that ilk wants you to!

  11. ws

    MJ:“I think the SubsidyScope estimates only apply to federal spending. That may be how they arrive at a figure of $10 billion for transit (as opposed to the $35 billion figure one would arrive at if they looked at direct subsidy spending by all levels of government). Applying the SubsidyScope framework would also have to account for things like treatment of capital (taxation, depreciation, risk assumption).

    The other issue is the questionable classification user vs. non-user revenue. One issue that their overview mentions that they treat all bond proceeds as non-user revenue, regardless of which revenue stream is used to secure the bonds.”

    ws: Subsidyscope is not just using federal numbers, they are using everything used for highways. You can see their sources. I mentioned the 10 billion figure for mass transit (not subsidyscope) for all spending (feds, state, local) from here:

    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2007/hf10.cfm

    I am not sure where you’re getting @ 35 billion for state, local, and fed spending, but I see 55 billion in subsides, which is just a column over. You may be looking at the wrong column, if I am not mistaken.

  12. ws

    Scott:“Consider that over 80% adults have cars & that <4% use public transit regularly."

    ws:You assume that all those that drive want to drive. At this point in my life, I own a car and have to drive everywhere. I would prefer not to own a car and walk everywhere and take transit for the rest of the trips.

    That does not mean that this would not change in the future.

    As msetty address, if a transparent cost is not attached to an action, we will never know what people want or prefer.

  13. Scott

    highwayman,
    Re: your #9 post, you stated for me to stop whining about transit subsidies. You didn’t seem to get my point, which you reprinted.
    To rephrase, currently about 5x is spent on highways vs transit, based upon figs given above.
    The portions of drivers & riders is roughly >80% & <4%. So, to keep the same subsidy proportion, over 20x should be spent on highways vs transit, meaning that highways should get considerable more subsidies, to make it line proportionally to transit, or said another way to have the same subsidy per river as per rider. Now, if per passenger-mile was then that would up the highway portion by another 50%+.

    msetty,
    Vague generalized labeling of “rhetorical blather” has no meaning.
    I thought I addressed many specifics.

    Public transit used to be almost 100% of mechanized travel, much, privately owned.
    The history of how that changed to personal vehicles encompasses a lot.
    Certainly not because of gov neglecting transit & gas taxes paying for the Interstates.
    Cars became affordable & people found them to offer so much more.
    The main transition period was 1945-1970.
    During that period, gov took over most transit.

    There is much more than to just “liking” something. Gov coercion is not the answer. Should anything that people like, be banned. That was tried with booze. How’s that drug war working out for ya?

    Property rights & laws to prevent harm to a person are not social engineering.

    Was I judging how people value driving? Well, 20x prefer that to riding, since mobility is greatly increased. And, many of the <4% that ride (about 20% of those riders have cars too), would rather drive, but don’t have the means. Sure cars are much more expensive, to the individual.

    Since you cannot counter any of my earlier points, you are switching to 4th & 5th topics, externalities, all capital costs, etc. Sorry, I don’t want to play your game of misdirection & tangents. Those are points worthy of consideration, but there’s limited space here. You cannot seem to focus & basically lose by default when you drop topics.

    I’ll bite on one: Driving is not as elastic to gas price as you think. In 2008, gas went up to over $4. The drop in driving was pretty minimal. Did you notice that many transit agencies went further into the red?

    I did download that latest VTI paper, “Tax everybody for my benefit”. I could type a page on his flaws in his first 2 pages.

    I’ve been for an extra $1/gallon gas tax for years. In addition to being able to end any subsidies, I think that would allow for an extra, roughly, $50 billion (not counting for the ~10% drop in VMT) for more lanes & maintenance upgrades.

    T.Caine,
    Kinda vague. Any specifics?

    ws,
    For my mentioning of 20+ times as many drivers than riders, you mentioned that I’m assuming that those want to drive. Their choice. They would most likely have to move elsewhere & get another job to use transit. There are many things that one doesn’t want, but does, such as many jobs.

    Don’t forget that many of those riders would rather drive, but finances limit their choices. It’s funny how the capital costs of many LRT lines are equivalent to buying each full-time rider a new car. Don’t get my point mixed. I’m not proposing that, highways are insufficient as they are.

  14. the highwayman

    You pay for the street in front of your residence by default through property taxes.

    Expressways make up less than 2% of the roads in the US.

    Over 100,000 miles of rail line are missing in the US.

    Portland OR once had close to 200 miles of streetcar line.

    Even the 2nd Ave subway project in NYC is an “El” replacement project.

    You whine about government, mean while it’s buttered your bread!

  15. msetty

    Scott:
    My point about the real costs of driving, e.g., “transparency” in costs as another poster called it, is exactly the point. All the positives and negatives of driving and transit are well known, and certainly known to me–but trying to bolster an argument with such details is rhetoric until you have some solid numbers behind it.

    Until a price is attached to all the negatives of driving, we really won’t know what people “want” when all the trade-offs involved have actually been considered. But traditionally, Americans “moved West” rather than deal with tradeoffs and many problems–though the day is now past where such escape is realistically possible.

    I don’t see you disputing the fact that the costs of parking which are buried in virtually every economic activity under the sun EXCEPT the cost of driving itself ($2,000/year+/- per person per Litman). A major reason that driving consistently is around half or less of the trips made in Western Europe (42% auto share of trips in Switzerland, arguably with the best public transit and 2nd most heavily used in the world, despite having only a tiny fraction of Japan’s urban densities and microscopic cities in comparison), is that the cost of parking is not nearly as buried as it is in the U.S., and they sensibly, and thriftily, have far less overall parking provisions in their urban centers.

  16. Mike

    Setty,

    I don’t see you disputing the fact that the costs of parking which are buried in virtually every economic activity under the sun EXCEPT the cost of driving itself

    This, like Dan’s constant references to negative externalities, is a red herring. Both of you fail Hazlitt’s Economics In One Lesson. You recognize the economic impact that is seen, but you only recognize the unseen elements that you choose to recognize. You fail to acknowledge unseen elements such as the economic PRODUCT of all that driving around, or all that gasoline use, or all that strip mining, or what have you. There is always a credit balancing each debit in the ledger, and the solution to those imagined debits has ALWAYS been to withhold the credits. Nothing more.

    Much as you’d like to imagine rich, white Monopoly Men gleefully dumping toxic waste all over minority neighborhoods “for the lulz,” the truth is that pollution or sprawl or whatever are, and always have been, BY-PRODUCTS of other directly profitable economic and industrial activity. And people have always been free, and remain free, to vote against that activity with their wallets. Don’t like sprawl? Don’t buy a house in the suburbs. If enough people agree with you, construction in the boonies will diminish. Don’t like pollution? Don’t buy your kids plastic toys from companies that manufacture them out of death’s own cocktail of chemicals and belch soot into the atmosphere from every smokestack. If enough people agree with you, the Soot Factory closes. Don’t like overfished waters? Alter thine diet. You’re free to try to convince others to do the same, but when you try to make it the law that they MUST do as you do, that’s when you’ve stepped over the line.

    And yes, if you don’t like the fact that CVS builds in a tiny piece of the cost of that parking lot to every product they sell, you’re welcome to patronize another vendor that operates more to your liking. There aren’t many other options, are there? Maybe that’s because they make so much money off drive-up customers that the cost of providing parking is not something they consider discretionary. Consider: Windows makes up 88% of the market; OS X 10%, and Linux 2%. But the virus/spyware authors don’t spend 88% of their time on Windows, 10% on OS X, and 2% on Linux. They just spend 100% of their time writing virii/malware for Windows. They go where the profit is and they ignore the fringes. And so you see that your local shopkeep is in the same boat. It’s not worth it for them to do things any other way. But if you don’t want to personally pay for their asphalt, don’t shop there!

    Anyway…

    Central planning is incapable of generating wealth on its own. It can only eat its own tail, and it’s getting noticeably closer to the anus with every passing year, as the current budget deficit should make obvious to anyone. I’m sure even you and Dan can extrapolate from there.

    I see no further value in engaging either of you here. Dan’s a shill, and you’re so consistently on-message that it’s hard to imagine that you’re here recreationally. Since I’m not getting value out of participating in a message board where you two are astroturfing so regularly, I’m going to go ahead and bail. Which I guess you can count as a victory if you wish. Of course, as Ayn Rand so succinctly stated when asked to describe the key principle of Objectivism in a single sentence: “Wishing won’t make it so.”

    To those of you who have joined in here for genuine discussion (either opposed or in accord with my positions), cheers to you and have a great life.

    Highwayman, TAKE YOUR MEDS ALREADY. Oh, also, I destroyed another small stretch of rail again last weekend. Please update your figures to reflect that there are now 100,047 miles of rail missing in the USA.

    Peace out.

  17. ws

    Mike: “This, like Dan’s constant references to negative externalities, is a red herring. Both of you fail Hazlitt’s Economics In One Lesson. You recognize the economic impact that is seen, but you only recognize the unseen elements that you choose to recognize. You fail to acknowledge unseen elements such as the economic PRODUCT of all that driving around, or all that gasoline use, or all that strip mining, or what have you. There is always a credit balancing each debit in the ledger, and the solution to those imagined debits has ALWAYS been to withhold the credits. Nothing more.”

    ws: Negative and positive externalities is rudimentary economics. Any reports of positive economic output cannot be fully claimed unless all costs are accounted for. Actually, “free” environmental degradation passes, “free” safety services for automobiles, and “free” wars abroad is quite visible to us all. The only “free” part is we don’t pay for them directly, we just use coercion and force in the name of higher taxes to pay for people driving everywhere.

    If the cost of loaf of bread at the grocery store does not account for its actual cost to produce the item and transport the item to the shelf becuase it is hidden behind a slough of direct/indirect subsidies; then we will never know what the actual cost of that loaf of bread truly is.

    This is our transportation system in a nutshell. It’s not that difficult. It’s Economics 101.

  18. Scott

    Hiweeman,
    I see your argumentative skills, solid content & powers of persuasion are as great as ever. Almost as good as Dan’s

    msetty,
    For all true costs of driving, when about 90% of working adults own a car. The indirect costs, included in retail prices (goods & services), property taxes, etc. are minimal & inconsequential.

    Should taxes be in line with direct use?: families only pay for children’s education, recipients of help program get billed for later payment, transit fare prices triple, persons only directly needing police & fire pay, no progressive income tax, library & park users pay full cost, public healthcare users get billed, etc.
    We can probably agree on no: TIFs, other tax breaks, TARP, etc.

    The big disparity/inequality is that the <4% (w/over 20% of riders owning a car too) who ride transit regularly, benefit from general taxes, which actually fall more than avg on the remaining 96%, due to higher avg incomes.

    Regarding you cost of parking: First, it was a good realization to not use the “terminology “free”, but rather, roughly, cost included in other prices/taxes.

    I didn’t address that earlier for several reasons:
    1.That was your 3rd or 4th derivation in the thread of the original topics, which you brought up, about builders in suburbs vs core & their campaign contributions & influence. You kept avoiding the objections, facts, & questions for each preceding point.

    2. By avoiding each preceding point you seemed to either 1) agree & drop it 2) disagree, but couldn’t elaborated or had no counter 3) didn’t understand 4) just respond in a way that was either, fallacious: ad hominem (insulting), misdirecting (changing subject) or general, unfounded, or a vague representation in, basically, 1-2 words.

    3. I briefly responded how you kept switching points & didn’t want to take you bait of ignoring previous solid objections. If you think that my objections are not solid, you could have point out specifics or asked for clarification. I thought that I’ve been pretty solid. If you see otherwise or don’t understand, you can quote or rephrase certain points & destruct or ask questions.
    So, I didn’t want to go on to another point while you kept avoiding previous points.

    The main reason that other (non-US) UAs have more widespread transit & fewer highways, is that their urban density is over thrice (+4x for Asian). Also, incomes are lower. History of econ development is another factor. People outside the US still like to drive, despite the higher cost for cars & the much worse road systems.

    Would you really like to live in an area like Hong Kong (urban density of 80,000/sq.mi.) or Tokyo? You know that the only region that is close, in the US, is the NYC UA. Although the LA has a higher urban density, it is lacking a dense core. Roughly, the NYC UA has 1.5x as many people on 2x the land. The cost of living in those 4 areas (especially the cores) is high.

    Look at middle America, having low densities, a higher than avg freeway-lanes/capita & lower costs of living. People, obviously have choices on where to live & what each UA has to offer.
    It’s tough for statists to bring high densities & gov super-infrastructure (transit) to places that don’t have the necessary conditions (density) & where a vast majority don’t want it.

    Basically, if you want transit, live where it is, not expect it to come to you, especially in lower densities or just small areas.

    It’s strange that you live in Marin County, rather than SF or Oakland. Seems hypocritical, like a vegetarian proponent eating meat. Maybe I’m mistaken on that characterization. But you certainly cannot expect VINE to have much service.

  19. Scott

    I meant Napa County, rather than Marin.

    Out of the ~900 sq.mi. of UA in the 9,000 sq.mi., 9-county Bay Area, one has a choice of about 200 sq.mi. to live where there is prevalent transit service. Even another ~400 sq.mi. has fair transit, but with less coverage & frequency.
    Within those areas, there is still housing farther than 1/4 mile from a stop.

    The City of SF (49 sq.mi.) has the 2nd highest transit use in the nation (33%) vs NYC (300 sq. mi, 50% riders). Keep in mind those figs are for city, not UA. All you experts do know that of all transit users in the US, 1/3 live in the NYC UA?

  20. the highwayman

    Scott, you claim to be a libertarian, yet your attitude authoritarian.

    No one is trying to prevent you from driving, yet you want to prevent other people from not driving.

  21. Scott

    highwayman,
    I have not claimed to be a libertarian, but that is true, which is evident in my points about limited government, personal responsibility, etc. I often avoid using that term, because many do not understand.

    & to msetty, re: previous comments,

    Libertarianism is often misconstrued. Three main misconceptions:

    1.Anarchy. Government’s main role is protection. Some public infrastructure, for use by the vast majority, under the classification of public goods is appropriate (disagreements exist). The gov has expanded vastly into way too many fields & has severely hindered econ development (starting mainly with the New Deal; see also). Many items that the gov does is not Constitutional. General welfare is often changed to specific welfare, and, for property rights, public use is often changed to public benefit.

    2.Labels such as: self-centered, greed, selfishness. Each person has self-interest. That’s normal & fine. Fraud, slander, cheating, dishonesty & such is unacceptable. Each person’s job [with income] is self-interest. It’s true that some jobs are directly more helpful to persons, such as social work.

    3.Profit. The avg profit is actually pretty low, under 7%. See avg profit per industry. Profits are made by consumers voluntarily buying a product or service that they want. People seem to forget about competition.

    It is true that there is crony capitalism (political favors), tax breaks, seemingly extra high executive incomes. Many public policies hinder business & some even unfairly favor certain industries or companies.

    Beyond capitalism, the US has gotten too far away of being a republic & too much into direct democracy (mob rule). Is it fair for the majority to coerce others? The Constitution set limits, but those are often ignored. Jefferson or Madison even warned, something to effect of ~”When people start voting themselves others’ money, it’s just a matter of time before the republic dissolves or implodes.”

    Anyone wishing to know more about libertarianism: FAQ; and political spectrum (Nolan) chart & description.

    For general laissez-faire (Vienna School) econ analysis, & other facets:
    http://fee.org/
    http://www.reason.com/
    http://mises.org/
    http://www.heritage.org/
    http://www.libertyunbound.com/
    http://www.americanthinker.com/
    http://www.aei.org/
    http://www.capitalism.org/
    http://www.freedomandprosperity.org/
    http://www.independent.org/
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/
    http://www.manhattan-institute.org/
    http://www.goldwaterinstitute.org/

    In addition to the links on the right.

  22. prk166

    @msetty,

    Not to be trite but please, can we stop the “like they have in Europe” stuff? Maybe it’s like that in Western or Northern Europe. But most of Europe is not like that. As anyone who’s been to Bulgaria, Italy, Turkey, Russia or all those large parts of Europe that yanks always seem to ignore.

  23. Dan

    Actually, Italy is like that. But the point was Western Yurp and the eastern bloc countries and Turkey were different socially until the EU, so the comparison is not apt.

    HTH.

    DS

  24. Scott

    The point stand: Comparison to Europe is not worthwhile. There are many variables.
    Just consider the EU. They have much higher densities (3-4x+) & lower incomes (~75%).

    The difference “socially” of Eastern Europe is not really pertinent.
    They had high density & even a higher reliance on public transit.

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