A student forwards me this:
Obama administration floats draft plan to tax cars by the mile
So, the economist in me is looking through the article for the usual reference to some newfangled negative externality that driving creates, only to be corrected by the wise and beneficent wizards in Washington. But no, we do not even stoop to economic nonsense any more. Maybe my hope for economic literacy for all is a bad idea. Here’s why:
The article says the reason this plan is being floated is simply because: The Federal Highway Authority wants more money. I will say it until my hair falls out – we spend $6 trillion as a government for the provision of public goods (and here is an insulting take on how to measure such benefits) and one of the most basic “goods” that governments supposedly ought to be providing, roads, it openly admits it cannot do. First it argues that infrastructure is crumbling. And now they are saying they don’t have the money.
And check out this gem:
That section would create, within the Federal Highway Administration, a Surface Transportation Revenue Alternatives Office. It would be tasked with creating a “study framework that defines the functionality of a mileage-based user fee system and other systems.”
In other words, any time some dingoes in DC come up with yet another hair-brained scheme to direct resources to themselves, it forces the creation of yet another unchecked bureaucracy that will cost three times as much as promised and never be cut because of the “vital” work it would be doing. The article claims it will “only” spend $300 million by 2017. Hey, it’s only $1 per person living in the U.S., why not make it two? Here’s an idea, for every new bureaucracy formed, one must be cut, or 200% of the spending must be cut elsewhere in government. I actually hate that idea because one can only imagine the games that will be played to make it appear that such cuts actually happened.