Survey: 100% of Facts Think anti-TSPLOST Advocates are Wrong
I wanted to write something happy today. I had found an interesting little list of things you tend to do when you don’t own a car in Atlanta and it made me all happy and amused and I really wanted to share it. But sadly I can’t. And I can’t because of a gentleman named Robert Ross. See Mr. Ross has absolutely no idea how transportation is funded and how they are all interconnected to one another. He has decided to inundate The Fast Track Forward Facebook page with his breathtaking ignorance and stubborness. But that is to be expected from the anti-TSPLOST campaign. A blitz attack of misinformation and they hope it sticks. See Debbie Dooley. See the politicians who are ironically up for reelection this year.
Transit ridership is up nationwide by 5%, and 3% in Atlanta. I wished that number would have been higher here, but I will take it, and it is great news. But according to the Robert Ross Institute of I Have No Idea What the Hell I am Talking About, ridership needs to be up by 400% to cover its costs. Could be right, but then again I don’t give a damn. And I don’t give a damn because I don’t have any left to give. Primarily because people like Robert Ross can’t seem to get it through their titanium encapsulated heads that roads aren’t free, nor are they entirely funded by the users. If you are reading this Mr. Ross wipe the coffee off your screen that I am assuming you just spit up all over it, because yes it is true. There is no magic road fairy that comes down and gifts us the brilliant ideas of super highways, diverging diamonds, and cloverleaf interchanges. And no, the second lowest fuel tax amongst developed nations (only to Mexico, and we all know what a bastion of industrial and technological advances they are) does not cover the cost. According to an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts whose information was obtained from the Federal Highway Administration, user fees (gas tax, registration, automobile tax, tolls, etc.) make up 51% of revenue for roads and all the work that they require. 13% came from bonds. But wait 51+13 only equals 64 (assuming you want to count the bonds as user revenue since the debt is serviced by fuel taxes). So where is this other 36% coming from. That over 1/3 that Mr. Ross claimed is such a miniscule amount that non drivers fund comes from things such as property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes and a whole host of other taxes not associated with roads.
But according the recent Robert Ross Study of I Don’t Understand How Goods and Services are Moved and Paid For, this tiny, oh so tiny 36% (which has been on a very rapid increase since 2005) is non drivers way of paying for roads that move goods and services that they use. If only that was true, but its not. Why you say? Well simply put the companies that move goods and services that require the use of trucks buy fuel. That fuel is taxed. Those taxes are suppose to be the user fees that pay for the roads that they are on. That cost of fuel is passed down in the form of fuel surcharges which are either independently broken out or factored into the price of said goods and services (anyone who has ever looked at an invoice for goods and services can show you that.) So if you follow the money trail, I, a non driver, pay for roads that I do not drive on but accept services from in the form of paying for that company’s fuel which is taxed, whose taxes go to the roads. So either way, driving or not driving. I am paying for the fuel that is being used for the products that I purchase. This is why the costs of goods and services increases when the cost of fuel goes up. So by my paying for the fuel, the tax on that fuel is paying to cover the roads that are being used for it. Or at least 51% of the road cost. And if I am paying a fuel surcharge which is taxed, and then my sales, income, or property tax gets diverted as well to roads, I am actually paying for it twice. And in regards to your belief that food distribution only moves via truck, you might want to recheck that fact. In fact you will probably want to take a look at nearly every physical good that is transported in this country. You will probably be rather surprised to find that it all ends up on a train at some point along the way.
But wait. Maybe Mr. Ross is one of those highly skeptical people where if the information is not uttered by Shawn Hannity or Neil Boortz they must be part of the liberal agenda lame stream media. Shucks. If only there was someone from the other side of the political spectrum who understood and believed those facts. Here is where I would insert a graphic of William Lind arriving on a white horse if I had time to draw it up. Who is William Lind might Mr. Ross ask? William Lind runs a website called the American Conservative and is a supporter of mass transit. Now I am sure the combination of those words probably popped a blood vessel inside Mr. Ross’ head but it’s true. And according to William Lind, he derived the exact same conclusion as the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Mr. Ross went on to say that that miniscule, ever so tiny, insignificant 36% also covers the need for emergency personnel (police, fire, etc.). That doesn’t quite add up. Mainly because the roads are not 36% occupied by emergency vehicles. Secondly the need for police cars is based upon the city they are serving and how intelligent their planning was. New York City police has an automobile fleet that ¼ the number of their personnel. If our city was planned better, which can be done, that wouldn’t have to be a near 1:1 ratio for us. Therefore reducing the need of roads for officers as well as their automobiles. Well Mr. Ross dedicates the rest of his posts to essentially “pay for what you use.” I have never had to call upon a fire truck for anything in my life. So under his premise, why should any of my tax dollars go to roads for firemen that I never call upon?
From the get go, wasn’t Mr. Ross’ argument that transit users should pay for what they use and not non users? If each of us only contributed to what we used, there would be no police, fire, or other emergency services, or at least very little. Simply because a majority will rarely or ever need them. But if I didn’t put money into this pot, then everyone else would be screwed that did need it. But people like Mr. Ross are selective arguers. Only where they see fit, and only for the things that they want. Otherwise it is socialism, social engineering, hand outs, bail outs, and any other pathetic buzz word that Shepherd Smith taught them. But it isn’t. I put in money so that everyone else can call upon emergency services. I put in money for schools that I will never use. I put in money for community improvements and parks that I will never see. That is what an industrialized and civilized society does. We all chip in. And maybe we don’t experience individual personal results from all of it. But the money I put into schools I will never use will produce intelligent members of society who will create jobs and businesses. The money I put into emergency services that will keep someone else’s neighborhood safe, or stop a local business from burning to the ground which helps make a safe community. The money I put into parks and improvements I will never use improves a community, improves property values and businesses, all which generate tax revenue that will be recycled into more improvements for more people so that we all have a good place to live. And my money goes to roads. Roads that I hate. Roads that do nothing but piss me off. But those roads are the same ones that allow people like Mr. Ross to get to work. And maybe him or I will provide one another a service that is needed that further improves our community and economy. And if Mr. Ross had even the slightest ability to look outside his bubble, he would realize that many people who use public transit do the same. They are hard working people that at some point somewhere down the line provide him with a service, a product, or a form of entertainment that he wants to have so dearly. So no Mr. Ross. Transit isn’t covered 100% by its users, just like roads. And if we demanded that from every form of transportation no one would be able to go anywhere whether it be by plane, train, or automobile because all, ALL, forms receive a massive amount of subsidy. For some reason, decades later, we are the only civilized country that still has to have this debate.