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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

More options promote the free market

Why is transportation such a partisan issue, and why in the world do conservatives tend to fall on the side of being against it? If anything, conservatives should support adding options into the transportation market.

Currently, local, state and federal governments pay for highways. Adding another option (or several options) will create competition for the monopolistic version of transportation we currently have.

Recently, conservative intellectual George Will wrote a scathing article in Newsweek bemoaning the government’s role in transportation planning as demonstration of the liberal agenda to control behavior and curb freedom. In the article, he bashes Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for promoting transportation options, insinuating that it is not the American way to give people options.

Mr. Will dismisses the government’s role in developing the Interstate Highway system, and blatantly ignored the FHA’s role in subsidizing single-family homes outside the center city. Not only did the government coerce suburbanization by helping to pay for the homes there, they also (quite literally) paved the way to get there. And now, conservatives have the audacity to claim that increasing transportation options will limit the personal choice to drive a car, a car.

LaHood responded to Will directly, saying at the National Press Club: “We have to create opportunities for people who want to ride a bike or walk or take a streetcar."

Mr. LaHood has it right. Sometimes it is about the choice of what NOT to do. The choice to NOT spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to purchase a vehicle (or 2). The choice NOT to spend several hundred dollars per year on car insurance, gas (on the rise again) and vehicle maintenance costs. It’s the choice to NOT drive from strip mall to strip mall to shop. It’s the choice NOT to spend time stuck in traffic.

The Transportation Secretary does not advocate that people ought to be living one place or another, or commuting using one method over another, he simply advocates that for far too long, there hasn’t really been a choice.

An increase in transportation options does not limit freedom, but expands it. It does not stifle the free market, but allows increased competition. And that is something we all can live with.


CityKin said...

here here

George Will is a good read, but sometimes he can be so myopic. The week before this he was writing about the downfall of Western Civilization because grown ups are wearing ... jeans ... gasp!

John said...

'And now, conservatives have the audacity to claim that increasing transportation options will limit the personal choice to drive a car, a car.'

this is good. and so true.

the reason i didn't stay in cinci after graduation was simply: I didn't want to own a car.

I currently have no car. Which means: no car payment, no car insurance, no car maintenance, and no gas to buy. It's perfect. I bike to work. And if it's raining - it take the tram. Or streetcar, as cinci calls it.

it is a convenience. and there is no doubt that businesses flourish among the 16 or so various tram lines that snake through amsterdam.

it's perfect.and leaves everyone's options open.

and - shockingly - everyone avoids hitting each other. bikes, trams, cars and pedestrians. who would have thought it possible?

tsm said...

The liberal agenda to control behavior and curb freedom? So that whole FAA thing is also a liberal conspiracy? It was signed into law by the same Republican president that spearheaded interstate construction. Should flying the skies be left to the people?

Quimbob said...

A big part of Conservativism is a belief in continual and unlimited expansion. Unfortunately, at some point, that just means getting fat.
When the country first got going there was unlimited resources, land and free labor. That's not what we are today. We are a mature nation and need to take care of what we have already started.
Ya want expansion ? Space, brother - the final frontier. Well, time would probably be next but that's a bridge a long way off.

Anonymous said...

Secretary LaHood actually posted today on the national Transportation blag an article about why transportation choices are a good thing. See it here:

Unknown said...

This is similar to a thought I've had regarding why conservative, free-market types who oppose single-payer health care are backwards.

I would guess there are tens of thousands of budding entrepreneurs who would love to quit their jobs and stir the free market, but are afraid to because they would lose their health insurance.

Without health care reform, lots of small businesses are stopped before they are even started.

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