12.9.19

WE DRIVE ON SOCIALIST, GOVERNMENT-OWNED ROADS.

Tim Butterworth would have us believe this is a good thing.
When President Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower took office in 1953, America had been buffeted by the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II in the 1940s. The Cold War put us in competition with Soviet “5-Year Plans” and Chinese “Great Leaps Forward.”

Eisenhower was concerned that soldiers would return home to closing factories. So Ike pushed for massive infrastructure spending, creating the “Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways.”

Congress funded a half-century of highway construction, building 47,000 miles—the biggest public works project in the history of the world. It cost $500 billion in today’s dollars, with 90 percent coming from Washington and 10 percent from the states.

The interstate highways transformed America.
President Eisenhower might have been more impressed with Germany's Autobahnen and the difficulty he had moving motorized troops on roads after the end of the War to End All Wars.  I'll leave it to economic historians and political pundits to sort out why there were three (mildish) recessions during the Eisenhower Regency, and what ever happened to Harry Truman.  None of which might have mattered, because the Victory Dividend was so large there probably was federal money to build baseball stadiums all up and down the west coast.

To this day, it still makes sense to move the troops' heavy equipment by rail, even if the MAIN train is a historical artifact.  We also have the gift of hindsight: those Five Year Plans didn't work out very well, and the Interstate Highways predated the Great Leap Forward.  Chinese peasants melted down their woks.  Wise experts stateside melted down their cities, despite Mr Eisenhower's desire not to build expressways into cities.  Never mind that, in Mr Butterworth's mind, public provision is socialism.
There was a downside, of course. Rail and mass transit were marginalized, urban sprawl spread across the land, the daily commute grew longer, and our carbon footprint grew bigger, as multi-lane highways destroyed urban communities.

Still, it puts lie to the chant that “the U.S. has never been a socialist country!” After all, we drive on socialist, government-owned roads.
Yes, and the government (meaning, dear reader, you and all the other taxpayers) has been cheerfully subsidizing traffic jams for years, and, as governments (here they think like socialist authorities) refuse to treat their roads like the assets they are, well, in fifty years they come apart.

Not exactly the way to pivot to, well, what looks like the platform the Democrats will run on.
Meanwhile there’s almost universal support for Social Security, our government insurance. And half the country—including Medicare and Medicaid recipients, veterans, and federal elected officials — receives some form of socialist, government-funded health care.

Consider also the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federally owned corporation created by Congress in 1933. Tennessee and five nearby states were devastated by poverty, hunger, and ill health. Only 1 percent of farm families had indoor plumbing, and about a third of the population in the valley had malaria.

Starting in 1933, our taxes paid to build TVA power plants, flood control, and river navigation systems. In 1942 alone, the construction of 12 hydroelectric and one coal steam plant employed a total of 28,000 workers.
That tax money also maintains the locks and dams on the Mississippi-Missouri watershed, including Chicago's cloaca and access to the Port of Catoosa.  Those, too, are assets the government is not using to earn income, and, not surprisingly, some of the locks are in rough shape.  I suppose, though, if you are a school teacher from New Hampshire, you can interpret "live free or die" as license to string together non-sequiturs and call it a manifesto.
Federal taxes paid for the highways and the TVA, which are now supported by gas taxes and electric bills. In those years of great public works projects, the wealthy elite paid a much greater share of their income in taxes, with the highest marginal tax rate reaching 94 percent.
There probably aren't enough rich people to soak for the resources to properly maintain those highways.

I'll let Reason's Richard A. Epstein respond.
You will have a right to education, health care, and housing, Just not today. Wait obediently on a queue until your name is called, at which point it may be too late. But never even dream that you should be allowed to escape the clutches of a well-intentioned monopoly that demands exclusive public support. Forget those pesky charter schools that provide better education at lower costs.
Reflect on that, dear reader, the next time you're stuck in one of those government-subsidized traffic jams.

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