Friday, November 26, 2010

Reason TV lying about pork and the gas tax


Let's take this apart, shall we?

Their first complaint is of money being taken away from the highway trust fund to fund non-highway projects. Unfortunately, they give no specifics with which we might examine the issues, but let us consider the argument made: Money is being diverted from the highway trust fund and spent on non-highway earmarks. There's just one flaw with this: It's complete malarky. The gasoline tax doesn't even suffice to cover current expenses, which is why in 2008 the Highway Trust Fund received over 8 billion dollars from the general fund and an additional two billion was spent from the general fund on freeways. Indeed, the total federal tax revenue for gasoline is only was only 25,325,646,000.00 in 2008. Money being quite fungible, any such non-highway uses must exceed the amount of revenue from the general fund and non-gasoline sources before complaints about diversion can be justified. But given the pathetic nature of their highlight, that doesn't seem likely.

That hovercraft in Toledo, OH was an appropriation of 745,125.00 for the development of ferry service between Toledo and Windsor, Canada. Of course, what Reason fails to mention is that of the 18.4 cents collected in gasoline tax, 2.86 cents goes to mass transit. So what we have here is criticizing as pork the use of mass transit money in order to fund mass transit. I'm having a hard time seeing the exact problem with that situation.

Then of course, we have the stimulus plan criticism. Yet the stimulus plan was never meant in its entirety to fund infrastructure repair and construction. Indeed, the largest portion of the stimulus plan was tax cuts, 288 billion dollars worth. Only 48 billion dollars was for transportation, 27.5 billion of which was for highway and bridge construction and repair. While the yoga thing seems to be quite off, I fail to see the problem with observing the effects of cocaine on monkeys as a scientific endeavor, given the high popularity of the drug among America's population and the usefulness of anything that will help combat addiction to it or treat those who have overdosed upon it.

Then of course, we have the true reason for calling these men "porkers" and the final piece of absurdity in the video: Because they have called for raising the gasoline tax by 135%. That 135% increase is a whopping total of 25 cents. That counteracts the depreciation of the current gas tax by more than seventeen years of inflation and rising fuel economies on vehicles, with perhaps a little extra to help with our greatly inadequately built and maintained infrastructure. Only in the bizarro world of Reason is this known as anything other than simply being responsible.

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