Washington Post columnist Fred Hiatt:
- Imagine your county supervisor or state delegate telling you, "I know your schools are overcrowded. Too bad."
Or: "We could build classrooms to replace the portables, but then more children would move into the neighborhood, so why bother?"
Unimaginable, right? And yet that's essentially what we hear all the time about overcrowded roads. In fact, the challenge of traffic is not by its nature more intractable than that of school crowding, but -- as the continuing disagreement between the General Assembly and governor in Virginia shows -- it is far harder to address.
One reason is the myths that have grown up around the issue of congestion -- chief among them that it cannot be fixed.
Another is a well-organized constituency less interested in solving the problem than in using it for other ends.
And a third -- an obstacle that contains within it the seeds of possible salvation -- is the fact that any real answer will be two-pronged, with one of the prongs offending the right and the other just as suspect to the left.
A useful debunking of the myths associated with traffic is provided by Ted Balaker and Sam Staley of the Reason Foundation in their recent book, "The Road More Traveled," from which I stole the overcrowded-schools analogy. Traffic is "fiercer than ever," they say, "but that's not because congestion can't be beat. It's because our leaders stopped fighting it."