Just in case anyone was still curious as to why my blog is called “The Solution is the Problem,” I’ve decided to show a few examples from the recent news. If people begin to think of policies not in terms of what they are supposed to do, but instead in terms of what they actually will do despite the best intentions of their proponents, I will be a happy Socrates.
First, an article from Smart Money about how college aid makes college more expensive. Though there has long been much conjecture about a causal connection, there is only a little evidence. I find it entirely plausible that more government college aid causes college to become more expensive, and the data are continuing to mount:
Federal aid for students has increased 164% over the past decade, adjusted for inflation, according to the College Board. Yet three-quarters of Americans and even a majority of college presidents see college as unaffordable for most, and that sentiment has been steadily spreading, the Pew Research Center reports.
…If subsidies puff up buying power and shift prices higher, as economics courses teach, could federal aid for college help create an affordability problem? After all, the federal government began spending more on college aid with the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the full funding of Pell Grants in 1975. Since 1979, tuition and fees have tripled after adjusting for inflation. That’s much faster than the increase for real estate and teacher pay.
…After adjusting for differences among schools, the authors find that Title IV-eligible schools charge tuition that is 75% higher than the others. That’s roughly equal to the amount of the aid received by students at these schools.
Studies like these suggest that if one goal of government is to make college affordable, aid should become more thoughtful instead of merely more plentiful.
Today’s second topic comes from a Reason article called “Drug Warriors Encourage Mexican Meth Makers to Sharpen Their Chemistry Skills.” Recall that the safe and effective nasal decongestant pseudoephedrine was federally limited and tracked some seven years ago to combat meth.
Seven years later, Jacob Sullum helpfully points out that, although pseudoephedrine was never required to make meth anyway, the upshot of the law has been the emergence of a Mexican black market.
The prevalence of meth production in Mexico was driven home this month when authorities reportedly seized 15 tons of meth on the outskirts of the city of Guadalajara, a known stronghold of Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
“This is a cyclical drug. If you pass a precursor bill it goes down, and then it comes back up again,” Maxwell said. “The lesson on this is that we can’t congratulate ourselves for doing away with pseudoephedrine. People keep looking for other recipes.”
The results have been interesting to say the least. First, the pseudoephedrine ban has led to an increase in meth making using other ingredients. It has pushed much production over the border, which has in turn fostered more violence in what is basically a war-torn country. It has led to increased border patrol costs. It has raised the price of meth, making addicts more desperate and possibly driving more crime. It has emphatically not reduced the use of meth.
Oh, and it makes it much harder for the vast majority of innocent Americans to deal with the common cold.
Bang up job so far, drug warriors. I’d say you’ve probably lost the drug war when people are posting directions for the synthesis of useful pseudoephedrine from the much more common and less-effectively controlled meth.
This is really just the latest in a series of government actions designed to protect people from the risks of their investment decisions, whereupon one quickly finds that, without risks, there are no rewards.
At last, the government is proposing new rules, which are supposed to make MMFs less risky. The funds would have to raise new capital, and some minor withdrawal limitations would be imposed on customers. They would also have to offer a floating net asset value instead of the current “guarantee” that if you deposit a dollar, you’ll always get at least that dollar back.The last is all by itself disastrous for these funds, whose main attraction is that they act like bank accounts. As for the rest, in a normal interest rate environment, this would be onerous. But with interest rates as low as they are, there’s no way for MMFs to absorb the hit by offering a lower return; it looks to me as if the interest rate would probably have to be negative. Which is to say, your MMF would actually be charging you for the privilege of giving you their money.If passed as proposed, the rules would seemingly put the MMFs out of business.
In an article at Reason yesterday, Jacob Sullum explicates further the point that poor women are nothing but a red herring in the birth control mandate debate:
Supporters of Obama’s birth control rule conflate liberty with subsidies, insisting that you are not really free to do something (in this case, use contraceptives) unless it’s free. According to this logic, observant Jews do not have religious freedom unless the government pays for their kosher food, bloggers do not have freedom of speech unless taxpayers buy them computers, and Americans in general do not have a right to keep and bear arms if they have to pay for guns with their own money. By contrast, the religious institutions that object to the contraceptive mandate are not asking for subsidies; they are resisting them. They object to a regulation that forces them to pay for products and services they consider immoral.
Of course, you should read the whole thing. And again, this elaborates on my previous point that this is not limited to a religious issue. Even if you are completely secular, you should be appalled at this mandate, because the injustice applies to you as well.
You may have no moral or emotional problem with paying for other people’s birth control, but consider the implications of the precedent. If birth control must be paid for by others because women are to “be free” to choose to use birth control, then by the same logic, it is absolutely proper that you be forced to pay for a new church building for Fred “God Hates Fags” Phelps. Why? He must “be free” to worship as he chooses and he may or may not be able to afford a new church building on his own.
Ultimately, if you have a problem with people’s access to birth control, donate to those organizations that widen said access. You have no claim on the property of other people, and you may not force them to subsidize things they choose not to. This holds regardless of which things are to be subsidized.
I consider myself a smart person, and at times articulate. But every so often, someone comes along with a statement on a particular issue that so easily eclipses anything I could possibly say, the only thing to do is link to it. Reading Ludwig von Mises seems to induce such situations quite regularly.
Today, however, John H. Cochrane at the Cato Institute is that person. In a post entitled “The Real Trouble with the Birth Control Mandate,” he lays out with impeccable logic just what exactly is happening with the Obama administration’s latest assault on religious liberty.
I will excerpt here, but you absolutely need to read the whole thing:
Why did HHS add this birth-control insurance mandate—along with “well-woman visits, breast-feeding support and domestic-violence screening,” and “all without charging a co-payment, co-insurance or a deductible”—to its implementation of a provision of the new health-care reform law? “Because it promotes maternal and child health by allowing women to space their pregnancies,” says the HHS advisory panel. Because these “historic new guidelines” will make sure “women have access to a full range of recommended preventive services,” says the original HHS announcement. To “increase access to important preventive services,” echoes White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
Notice the doublespeak confusion of “access” and “cost.” I have “access” to toothpaste because I have two bucks in my pocket and a competitive supplier. Anyone who can afford a cell phone can afford pills or condoms.
Poor women who can’t afford birth control are a red herring in this debate. HHS isn’t limiting this mandate to the poor anyway. We all have to pay. The very poor typically don’t have employer-provided health insurance in the first place. “Allowing women to space their pregnancies”? Was there some sort of federal ban on birth control before this?
Emphasis is mine, and it is absolutely true that poor women are being used as political pawns here. It really sickens me when inevitably this is the way the debate is framed. There is nothing wrong with allowing “access” to birth control to anyone, poor or otherwise. There absolutely is something wrong with forcing others to pay for it, and most especially when those people find birth control morally reprehensible.
Here’s a good mandate: Let’s mandate that every time a government official says that the government is going to “help” some category of voter, he or she has to say who they are going to hurt in the same sentence. Because it has to be someone.
But what about the fact, you may ask, that unwanted children are a burden on society as well as to their mothers? Perhaps there is a social interest in subsidizing birth control? Perhaps there is—but if so, this is an awful way to do it.
The minute pills are “free,” under insurance, the incentive for drug companies to come up with cheaper versions vanishes. So does their incentive to develop safer, more convenient, male-centered or nonprescription birth control. And by making pills free but not condoms, the government may inadvertently be contributing to an increase in sexually transmitted diseases.
This a specifically situational restatement of Frederic Bastiat’s point in his famous essay “What is Seen and What is Not Seen.” Bastiat, by the way, is another person whose writings cause me to wonder if I could ever say it better.
Ultimately, the assertion that women are being directly attacked if this law is not passed is atrociously vapid. But even assuming, ad arguendum (and very generously), that it is correct, it still provides no justification for the direct attack on others through appropriation of their wealth and work. One wonders if Obama’s mother ever told him that “two wrongs don’t make a right.”
As for the churches, Cochrane is very much correct when he makes this a simple issue. One should not belabor the point here:
There is also the issue of religious freedom. Our nation is divided on social issues. The natural compromise is simple: Birth control, abortion and other contentious practices are permitted. But those who object don’t have to pay for them. The federal takeover of medicine prevents us from reaching these natural compromises and needlessly divides our society.
This is like ordering Jewish schools to buy pork for their cafeterias and then claiming to respect Judaism because synagogues are exempt.
This kind of savagery toward religious liberty is all in a day’s work for Obama. But lest those who are secular think that this does not apply to them, recall that you are not exempted either. The justification is different; the injustice the same.
I am getting ready to sit down for the BCS Mythical National Title game, and I am not in the greatest of moods.
First of all, I have – shall we say – a lack of regard for the “university” known as Louisiana State. I really want them to lose, but that does not mean I want Alabama to win. Is it okay to cheer for none of the above?
Also, it has been a long time since I managed to put up a blog post, and that annoys me. I hope it also annoys you because that means I am doing something right when I actually do post.
So rather than continue to let the blog languish, I decided I would share with you some links that I have found interesting over the last few days. I hope you enjoy.
Europe is in a tough spot
Daniel Hannan writes in the Telegraph about how Europe, despite major efforts from relatively strong countries and the European Central Bank, is still circling the drain. This is ultimately a structural problem, and not a cyclical one:
Had Greece kept the drachma, it would never have got into its present mess: the markets would have stepped in and imposed a corrective years ago. It was the ludicrous idea that Greek and German debt were interchangeable that fuelled the artificial boom, and so made inevitable the ensuing slump. Yet, even now, Lucas Papademos, the Eurocrat who heads the
Brussels-imposed juntanational government in Athens, tells his subjects: ‘We must continue our efforts with decisiveness, to stay in the euro, to make sure we do not waste the sacrifices and do not turn the crisis into an uncontrolled and disastrous bankruptcy.’ Disastrous bankruptcy, eh, Lucas? As opposed to what you have now, you mean?
In case Mr. Hannan has not convinced you, I also found this Walter Russell Mead piece interesting. He emphasizes again that this is a structural problem. To a certain extent, Europe was simply set up to fail. Read on:
European elites tried to construct a glittering cosmopolitan tower without grounding their structure in the mud and the mire of real people, real culture and real life. They designed a technocratic government for a population that fears and distrusts technocrats. They build a German style financial order for cultures who hate Germany. They thought that if they ignored the resulting problems and resentment resolutely enough for long enough, the problems would all go away.
Sic semper tyrannis, loosely translated for my purposes to “thus always to top-down centralizing governments.”
Using the courts against trial lawyers
Who among us has not received an email or letter about a class-action settlement pertaining to something we have been tangentially involved in and yet not bothered enough even think of suing? Who among us has not been faced with the choice of either depositing a check for $0.18 or seeing their portion of the settlement proceeds go to some “charity” that really only benefits the trial lawyers?
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Heather Peters is doing something about it. Ms. Peters bought a Honda that did not get the gas mileage that Honda claimed it would. She was justifiably dissatisfied, but she was even more dissatisfied about the treatment she got as compared to the trial lawyers handling the class action.
The trial lawyers’ cut was $8.5 million. Ms. Peters’ cut? $100.
This is all too common, and thanks to the lobbying efforts of the trial bar and a largely compliant ABA, the class action system in this country is broken into tiny pieces. What else to do but take Honda to small claims court?
On Jan. 3 she’ll take her case to Small Claims Court in Torrance, where California law prohibits Honda from bringing an attorney. She’s asking for the maximum of $10,000 to compensate her for spending much more on gasoline than expected. Honda said the Civic would get about 50 miles per gallon, but because of technical problems the car gets closer to 30 mpg.
What’s more, Peters is using urging Honda owners across the country to do the same. Peters’ DontSettleWithHonda.org website and a DontSettleWithHonda Twitter account include a link to state-by-state instructions for filing these lawsuits, which have low fees and minimal paperwork.
In a lawsuit like this, which is very typical of consumer class actions, a $10,000 maximum is no barrier (and it is certainly preferable to $100). California, however, is not representative of all states’ approaches to small claims court, also called conciliation court. Minnesota, for example, allows representation by licensed counsel. However, it remains an open question whether Honda would expend the funds to defend against a lawsuit capped at $10k.
A surprising dose of reality for California high-speed rail
Although many of us have known and insisted all along that high speed rail is an expensive and unrealistic government boondoggle, it is rare that a state-funded and state-mandated panel would say so. The Los Angeles Times reports that that is exactly what is happening in California.
In a scathing critique that could further jeopardize political support for California’s proposed $98.5-billion bullet train, a key independent review panel is recommending that state officials postpone borrowing billions of dollars to start building the first section of track this year.
…[I]n a report Tuesday, a panel of experts created by state law to help safeguard the public’s interest raised serious doubts about almost every aspect of the project and concluded that the current plan “is not financially feasible.”
Almost every aspect of the project is not financially feasible. Is it any wonder then, that its major backers are public unions, state and local politicians, and UC Berkeley? It reads like a most wanted poster for spending apologists.
If you want more information about this crazy train, check out Reason Magazine’s coverage. It has been very comprehensive since at least 2008.
I will finally get around to posting this article (it’s somewhat late, so I apologize) about their British counterparts. You see, it seems that when Britain’s Border Agency went on strike, the expected hellish lines and hours-long delays at Heathrow not only did not materialize, but conditions actually improved.
Perhaps we only think we need these people. Perhaps the private sector would be doing it anyway – and better. Read all about it at the Daily Mail.
More on China:
A few days back, China cut its reserve requirements for its banks by 50 basis points, injecting extra cash and liquidity into a market already swimming in paper debt. Bloomberg charitably reports that this “might signal a slowdown.”
Socrates reports that this is yet another step towards the inevitable Chinese conflagration. Will it be today? Tomorrow? Five years from now? Whatever the case, a fool for China and his money will soon be parted.
Intellectual Property and the Urge to Regulate the Internet:
Quick, what is the most creative, fastest growing sector of the economy? No, it’s not General Motors. It is, of course, the “internet economy,” or broadly the information technology that has connected the entire world over the past couple of decades.
And get this, the internet revolutionized our entire lives in spite of being completely devoid of regulation! Wait, scratch that, it revolutionized our entire lives because it was completely devoid of regulation.
That is why Google happens to be correct in its excoriation of the new “online piracy” bill, which in reality is just intellectual property on steroids:
Google is exhorting senators to oppose an online piracy bill, arguing it would threaten national security, shackle the Internet with regulations and imperil free speech, according to a document obtained by The Hill.
The memo that is being circulated on Capitol Hill lists five reasons not to co-sponsor the legislation. It argues the bill puts at risk “the ability for free speech and the ability of political parties to spread their message” while creating a “thicket of new Internet regulations similar to the administration’s net-neutrality rules.”
It also calls the legislation “a trial lawyer’s dream” and claims it seeks to “regulate the Internet.”
This thing passes, and the internet as we know it dies.
An Update on the Whereabouts of the Anti-War Left:
A while back, I put out an APB on the anti-war left, which disappeared completely once their pro-war president was elected. Turns out, it is still missing.
Reason has been patrolling the same beat, and Sheldon Richman argues persuasively that “Obama’s War Record Should Appall Progressives.”
Watch as Richman batters the tired arguments of formerly anti-war left, who are now left to rationalize the actions of “their” president, who happens to be ratcheting up all of the failed policies of the former president.
Oh, and if anyone can find where the real anti-war left went, please let me know. Thanks.
The Unintended Consequences of Race-Based Preferences:
The Supreme Court is choosing whether to hear a case on the racial preference system of the University of Texas. George Will, who in the last few years has been razor sharp, argues that the court should hear the case and be confronted with the failed legacy of affirmative action:
The Supreme Court faces a discomfiting decision. If it chooses, as it should, to hear a case concerning racial preferences in admissions at the University of Texas, the court will confront evidence of its complicity in harming the supposed beneficiaries of preferences the court has enabled and encouraged…
For 33 years, the court has been entangled in a thicket of preferences that are not remedial and hence not temporary. Preferences as recompense for past discrimination must eventually become implausible, but the diversity rationale for preferences never expires…
But what if many of the minorities used in this process are injured by it? Abundant research says they are, as two amicus curiae briefs demonstrate in urging the court to take the Texas case…
“Academic mismatch” causes many students who are admitted under a substantial preference based on race, but who possess weaker academic skills, to fall behind. The consequences include especially high attrition rates from the sciences, and self-segregation in less-demanding classes, thereby reducing classroom diversity.
The entire article is well worth a read.
And hey, it’s Saturday. What else are you doing?
Local foods are a big fad lately, and although I have commented negatively on the idea of “localizing” our commerce and our food, I was called out by a sharp commenter who said that not every instance of localizing our food sources is negative.
This is, of course, true. There are multiple reasons why one might choose locally grown foodstuffs, and certain of them are very persuasive. Indeed, when it comes to arguments for quality, freshness, and health, my farmer’s market beats the supermarket probably 80% of the time.
That said, I still do not find the environmental, gustatory, or protectionist arguments at all persuasive, and I see nothing immoral or destructive about sourcing our food far away from where we live.
But there are costs on both sides, and a true accounting of the economics of local foods would require that we account for all costs, seen and unseen, on both sides of the equation. A recent article at Reason called “My Subsidized Food Choices are Better Than Yours” points one cost that is all-too-often hidden: subsidies.
The question, which is not a new one, has reared up again recently as the result of a debate between Freakonomics blogger Steve Sexton and Tom Philpott of Mother Jones. Sexton, in a post earlier this month, took aim at a “Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act” he said would award “about $200 million to local farm programs.” In Sexton’s post, titledThe Inefficiency of Local Food, he goes on to argue among other things that a
local food system would raise the cost of food by constraining the efficient allocation of resources. The monetary costs of increased input demands from forsaken gains from trade and scale economies will directly bear on consumer welfare by increasing the costs of food.
Philpott counters by pointing out that any honest discussion of purported inherent efficiencies underlying the system Sexton favors must take into account subsidies. Philpott’s 100% right about that, especially because Sexton’s argument not only picks on local food but on subsidies for local food.
In any accounting of the economics of a particular market – in this case agriculture – one must account for the distortions of that market. Subsidies by their very nature produce distortions, but it seems as if the question being asked among the locavore vs. mass agriculture debaters is not “what costs are imposed by subsidies generally?” but “what costs are imposed by subsidies for the other guy?”
In this debate, neither side comes out smelling like a rose. Of course, we would know far, far more about the efficacy of the various types of farming if we were able to determine which could stand on their own.
Cato’s Gene Healy takes to the Washington Examiner to write about the TSA forcing a 95-year-leukemia patient to remove her adult diaper to get through the airport screening process. In pertinent part:
As always when the TSA commits some new atrocity — like last April’s “freedom fondle” of a 6-year-old girl — a designated bureaucratic spokes-unit affirmed that the officers acted “according to proper procedure.”
As my colleague Julian Sanchez observes, it’s bizarre to think we’re supposed to find it comforting “that everything is being done by the book — even if the ‘book’ is horrifying.” Wouldn’t you rather hear that such actions were the work of overzealous line officers, instead of policies vetted and approved at the highest levels of the federal government?
Do I find this personally unsettling, disgusting, and highly unnecessary? Depends.
Apropos of nothing in particular, Reason’s Jacob Sullum reports that the Texas House has passed a bill limiting the TSA. The bill would affect “public servants” who:
“while acting under color of the person’s office or employment, without probable cause to believe the other person committed an offense, performs a search without effective consent for the purpose of granting access to a publicly accessible building or form of transportation” and “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly touches the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of the other person, including touching through the clothing.”
I happen to think this is a step in the right direction, quixotic or not. It brings up questions that we need to be asking, namely about probable cause and unwarranted searches in the first place, and about the limits of federal government overreach in the second place.
I believe that a great many Texans and Americans in general would agree with me that the TSA, which to date has captured zero terrorists, is entirely unnecessary. When the cost benefit ratio divides by zero, you know that something is askew. However, the bill passed over the objections of the House Speaker:
The bill passed despite resistance from House Speaker Joe Straus, who dismissed it as “an ill-advised publicity stunt,” saying he wanted to “send a message without actually harming commercial aviation in Texas” (a reference to U.S. Attorney John E. Murphy’s warning that the TSA might be forced to shut down Texas airports)…
Of course the TSA has threatened to completely shut down Texas airports if they see any resistance to their efforts to fondle six-year-old girls and humiliate your grandmother. Because bureaucracies will do everything in their power, warranted or not, to self-perpetuate. Just remember that every day we do nothing to stop this is another day the TSA will use to entrench itself more and more until transportation is indistinguishable from the Nazi police state.
This article by David Beito called “Hayek in Tuscaloosa” takes an altogether too rarely publicized view of major events such as the tornadoes that tore through Alabama some weeks ago. In short, F.A. Hayek’s theory of “spontaneous order” explains how effective aid got to affected people.
Under this theory, which is incredible in that it expresses the incomprehensible with great clarity, Hayek would have predicted certain events that would follow a disaster such as these tornadoes. Among them would be an uncoerced, non-organized, yet somehow highly effective response, bringing in elements from across a broad swath of society.
Hayek would have expected that, despite this lack of top-down, centralized order, people would not be rendered paralyzed and ineffective, which they were not (compare the similar response to the tsunami in Japan). Hayek would have also expected that such decentralized and disinterested help would be far more effective than anything the government could mandate (contrast the dissimilar response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans).
However, when the Wall Street Journal published a version of the article, called “Talk Radio Rides to the Rescue in Tuscaloosa,” they omitted all reference to Hayek, choosing instead to focus on the efforts of talk radio. I would imagine that this reflects the different readership bases of Reason and WSJ, but it is truly a pity that the article was stripped of reference to the man who was the impetus behind its central idea.
In any case, let’s not forget that decentralization of response to problems is not equivalent to failure to address problems. That message should be shouted from the rooftops, regardless of whether Hayek’s name ever comes up.
And in case you’re interested in more top-down vs. bottom-up Hayek-goodness, maybe this would be a good time to check out the Fight of the Century, Round Two. Or to check it out again.
I got a little bit of blowback on my article a couple weeks back called Minnesota’s Billion Dollar Mistake with Light Rail. It was not so much because people disagreed with me that building 10 miles of track that nobody will use for $1 billion that we have no hope of paying off is a monumentally stupid idea. Instead, they disagreed with my elitism.
I enter a demurrer.
Fact is, I agree with the wise words of Jeremy Clarkson, who says that public transport is for poor people, and walking is for readers of the Guardian. In any event, I would not seem so elitist if other people stopped being so shitty.
But on a serious note, my lament over the state of transportation financing in Minnesota has its corollaries across the country, and none seem to provoke any more optimism than Minnesota’s.
Over at Reason, Tim Cavanaugh spells out California’s coming disaster in an article called “America Pays for Villaraigosa’s Transit Legacy.” Transit plans in Los Angeles are expected to cost $13.7 billion, which in government math is likely somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 billion. But, as Cavanaugh says, the real joke is on American taxpayers, who will be expected to foot the bill when the transit projects inevitably fail to pay for themselves.
Perhaps befitting a town known colloquially as “la-la land,” politicians and rail boosters in Los Angeles have completely deluded themselves about the financial condition of their railway fantasies. Here’s a fun bit of nonsense:
L.A. Times columnist Tim Rutten, one of the idea’s largest boosters, pronounces that the project—which includes an extension of a subway line to the West Side V.A. hospital and an at-grade rail line from USC to Santa Monica, as well as a plan to take away one lane of highly congested Wilshire Boulevard and turn it into a bus-only route—would “create 918,300 jobs paying $50.8 billion in wages.”
Cute. Ridiculous, but cute. If everything were this successful, why in the world would there ever be private industry? The government could just employ every single person in the country and watch the money multiply!
And anyway, what better to way to rev the economic engine than to take away a lane of traffic in a bustling business district?
The idiocy doesn’t end there, of course. When in 2008 Angelenos approved a 0.5% county sales tax, they were told that it would go toward things like potholes and road resurfacing:
The Los Angeles County MTA’s Measure R splash page highlights the road and driving elements of the measure, with its top bullet point noting that MTA has disbursed “$100 million for…projects such as pothole repairs, major street resurfacing, left-turn signals, bikeways, pedestrian improvements, streetscapes, traffic signal synchronization and local transit services.”
That’s worked about as well as (wait for it) …light rail:
More than two years in, Los Angeles now fixes nearly a third fewer potholes than it did before. According to the Measure R expenditure plan a mere 15 percent of money from the sales tax is designated for road service. The largest portion goes to new rail projects, though only the Expo Line from USC is currently under active construction.
I suppose I would be pretty angry to be told that road resurfacing funds directly applicable to my daily commute are now being funneled into a rail line so that spoiled children at USC find it easier to get to Sharkeez on Thursday night. (Full disclosure: I used to be one of those spoiled children, though Sharkeez was never my scene.)
But I suppose I would be even angrier to be told that that particular waste of money is the only line that is even being built. Only in the world of public expenditure can so much wasteful spending go to things that do not even exist yet.
But I am no longer an Angeleno, which means that I am angriest of all. The half-percent sales tax is, as Cavanaugh noted, something that the morons who voted for it totally deserve. But why do I deserve to have tax money siphoned out of my wallet so that someone half a country a way can feel good about how “green” their county is before hopping back into the car for their 40 mile commute home?
Ultimately, it is unfair for all of Minnesota, and all of the country’s taxpayers, to fund a rail line to get the spoiled children at the University of Minnesota to the bars in Lowertown more easily on Thursday night. (Full disclosure: I was a Gopher too.) It is unfair for the rest of the country to subsidize California’s rail lines that nobody will use either. And fundamentally, the financing situation is dismal across the board – the projects are built on laughable projections and have no viable chance of independent financial success.
Nevertheless, you (yes, you) will be paying for them for decades to come. It is time for some real outrage about federal involvement in local transit projects. Let’s get angry.