Bush-backing conservatives like me must remind ourselves that calling out the failings of government is not just a job for liberal media. George Will’s excellent Sunday column was about better public policy through private solutions, not more rules and higher taxes. Mr. Will trained his intellect on traffic congestion in populous areas.
Innovative new approaches that integrate private investments, such as toll lanes or privately-operated highways, are much better than simply raising the federal gas tax to solve transportation problems, Mr. Will says.
“When taxpayers pay the gas tax, they do not know what they are buying — except “Bridges to Nowhere” and other pork. When drivers pay a toll, they know exactly what they are getting — life’s most precious scarce thing, time.
[T]here are large sources of private capital available for investments in transportation infrastructure. Indiana has leased its toll road to a private consortium that will have an incentive — profit — to use electronic toll collection rather than human collectors who slow traffic and sometimes cost twice as much as the tolls they collect.
New electronic technologies, harnessed to private capital and the profit motive, can nimbly use price incentives to produce new traffic patterns and driving habits, thereby increasing Americans’ freedom to pursue happiness, speedily.”
Relying on ”new technologies harnessed to private capital and the profit motive” to solve our problems? Yes, indeed. We are beset by too many policy-makers – including too many Republican members of Congress – who prefer old-fashioned command & control schemes and high taxes to fix real-world problems.
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