Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Why would we pour billions into roads and bridges?

(click on graph to see full view)

In a nation just moving from an agrarian society to an industrial one, roads spur wealth.

In a nation that must move from a post-industrial society to a much more agrarian one, pouring money into roads is like burning it in a pit, only with much more environmental harm.

Anyone who proposes to tax you to spend more money on cars and roadways is in deep denial about what this graph shows -- and that denial is going to hurt you.

The era of roadbuilding for endless automobility is over. The only question is how much harm the road lobby, elected officials, and transportation planners will cause before they acknowledge this reality.

After the fall of Louis XVI, people then shook their heads and wondered how anyone could have possibly been so stupid as to bankrupt a wealthy nation like France with obviously pointless and wildly extravagant spending that qualified as little more than vast, costly monuments to the royal ego. Funny, few were making the point while the money was still flowing freely. Well, here we are, an ocean away and hundreds of years later, faced with the same dilemma --- a debased currency, overstretched military commitments, and wildly extravagant spending, only our Versailles palaces are called "highways."

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