Thursday, March 8, 2012

Federal Highway Construction - More Pork Barrel Spending

Congress is attempting to pass a Federal Highway Bill to fund the building, or improvements to our national road system.   Federal Fuel taxes are supposed to go to fund these programs; but the Transportation Highway Fund is billions of dollars in deficit; surprise, surprise.  This is really too important to be dealth with by Congress because anything Congress touches turns into SwindleUS money are lard. 

We do need to build and or improve our highway system, originally conceived when President Eisenhower made it a national priority; but this must be done based on economic impact; not building a bridge to nowhere, or high speed trains that will never pay for themselves.   While Transportation bills are usually enacted in five year segments, once again just like dealing with Energy, we need a 50 year Transportation Plan that is tied to regional economic development, not pie in the sky projects that are often nothing more than pork barrel spending designed to buy votes to win elections. 

These priority decisions should be decided by a National Transportation Commission, with business representatives from each region of the country.   This Blogger simply does not trust Congress to spend our money wisely.   As one example that represents good government, the state of Virginia has the deep water port of Norfolk.   Republican Governor McDonnell and their state legislature have decided to invest significant monies in highway and rail improvements to make Norfork an even more attractive port of entry on the East coast.  This makes perfect sense because it is tied to state and regional economic development.

When you see a federal sign on the side of the road that says your "highway dollars at work", if it is not tied to economic development, you will know that your Congressman or Senator just wasted taxpayer money to buy votes.  Common sense rarely prevails inside the Washington beltway as members of both political parties and all their minions continue feeding at the trough at our expense.  

If we could get this right, this Blogger would support increasing the current 18.5 cent per gallon federal fuel tax to something a bit higher; but only if I could be assured that this money would be used wisely to really improve our highway system to foster economic growth and development.   We often spend years related to a road or other building project determining if a field mouse will be impacted.  How about if we spend much less time determining the cost effectiveness of all government expenditures; but in this case monies spent on transportation projects.  

We need to improve our federal and state highway system.  It could be money well spent; but only if it is well spent.  Sadly, if this is managed by our illustrious elected representatives, we should assume that 50% of the money spent will be taxpayer funds down a rat hole.  It is what it is. 

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