I really, really don’t get the appeal of Mark Sanford to some libertarians. Then again, the fact that my best friend has taken a furlough (without time off, essentially amounting to unpaid labor) solely so the douche-nozzle can continue to grandstand as part of his quixotic effort to get the 2012 GOP presidential nomination might color my opinions somewhat.
The day Sanford or Sanford-lite (aka Rick Perry) identify a part of libertarianism they like other than “tax cuts” is the day that serious libertarians should to give them the time of day—and no sooner. I don’t expect that to happen any time soon.
Today’s Laredo Morning Times has a lengthy article discussing the wrangling over whether or not the various local government agencies should create a Regional Mobility Authority to help advance local transportation projects in a more timely fashion. Frankly I find this passage in the article to reflect the lack of contact with reality in the discussion:
Because other cities and counties in the state have created RMAs to build toll roads, RMAs are sometimes associated with tolls, according to Jerry Garza.
“I want to stress, and I cannot stress enough that we here in Laredo, Webb County would never consider a toll road,” Jerry Garza said.
He meant turning the loop into a toll road, but added that he personally would not support a toll road in any part of the county.
I think realistically, if Laredo wants anything beyond the bare minimum of transportation improvements, it is going to have to turn to using tolls to finance them. Certainly Laredo’s experience with tolls has been mixed—the spectacular failure of the Camino Colombia under private ownership being the most obvious example—but all four international road bridges are tolled with few objections in evidence. Tolls may be the only way to ensure that truck traffic—which is the user group most likely to see economic benefits from overpasses and direct ramps along the loop—is paying its fair share for avoiding congestion.
More to the point, despite the mini-revolt over tolls in Austin at the legislature, it is highly likely that federal and state transportation funds derived from gas taxes—to say nothing of carbon taxes, or however “cap-and-trade” will be implemented for motor fuels—are going to be diverted away from road construction to other efforts such as urban mass transit and high-speed rail (projects that, frankly, Laredo will see little benefit from in any realistic time horizon, unless private investors can be conned into building a high-speed rail line from Monterrey to San Antonio and building a station here too) or general fund demands like shoring up Social Security and Medicare. Like it or not, I think more tolls are coming sooner rather than later.
Prof. Shugart passes along news of the EU Profiler. It seems to think I’d make a reasonably good Tory if I were British (which is probably true, given my moderately Thatcherite childhood socialization) but I’d be a better fit to the Liberal and Centre Union in Lithuania or the Free Democrats in Germany.
The geniuses up in Austin have diagnosed TxDOT’s problems and decided that the solution is, in part, to have an elected state transportation commission who doubtless will be high-minded representatives of the popular will rather than endless seekers of pork-barrel projects for their geographic districts. Because we all know how helpful having an elected State Board of Education has been in keeping politics out of the public school curriculum.
You can view all the lege’s sausage-making here; it’s a doozy. On the upside, at least they’re banning red-light cameras.
A leading contender for the title of “America’s worst mayor,” Frank Melton of Jackson, died last night after losing his chance at a second term in office in the Democratic primary. I’ve said before—and have been proven wrong—that I thought Melton’s career as mayor was over, but his passing would seem to seal the deal once and for all.
Radley Balko on Ashton Kutcher’s premonition that the founders of Twitter will be remembered with Edison and Marconi:
Twitter is fun. But it isn’t going to revolutionize the way we communicate any more than Ashton Kutcher has revolutionized the way we play practical jokes on one another.
In fairness, Kutcher did help us revolutionize the English language by replacing the letter ‘e’ with an apostrophe in certain, additional situations beyond adding local color to British regional accents. And by “revolutionize” I mean “made more incomprehensible and harder to type.” Call him the anti-Noah Webster.