Friday, June 16, 2006

Will public highways become an oxymoron?

Washington Post

[the Bush] administration persuaded Congress last summer to take steps to make it easier for the private sector to finance new roads -- and take over existing ones. Lawmakers removed several legal barriers to charging tolls on interstates and gave private investors new access to tax-free bonds for transportation projects.
The governor of Indiana who arranged for the privatization of that state's toll roads seems to think the backlash against his decision is xenophobia since the winning bid came from outside the country, but I suspect it's the continuing trend of privatization and the possible ramifications of privatization that has people concerned.

Whenever something is privatized or completely deregulated, we've been told that it only brings benefits. But many times in the long run it's the privateers who benefit at our expense.

Part of that trend is the substitution of fees for taxes. Rather than having a gas tax that pays for a solid network of well-maintained roads available to all with no tolls, toll systems which are expensive to administer are becoming investor magnets. If the fees are paid by drivers to private companies, the portion of those fees given to governments are seen as free money.

But it isn't free to those who pay the tolls.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:16 AM   0 comments links to this post


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