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Reason Foundation

Reason Alert: Middle East, Toll Financing

May 4, 2007

The U.S. Should Press Syria to Let Go of Lebanon
U.S. officials met very briefly with Iranian officials yesterday in Egypt. In an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Reason magazine's Michael Young, opinion editor of the Daily Star in Beirut, says the U.S. must use any future conversation with Iran "as leverage to consolidate Lebanon's fragile independence...While it is by no means clear that the U.S. and Iran would in the current climate agree to move toward some form of engagement, the consequences if they did could substantially alter what happens in the Middle East. Maybe Mr. Assad is gambling on U.S.-Iranian discord, and maybe that gamble will pay off. However, if Iran decides that now is a good time to begin a normalization process with Washington, the Syrian president would be better off accepting that Lebanon is lost for good, and that he can gain much regionally and internationally from that acknowledgment."

GOP Debate - Ron Paul Anyone?
At PajamasMedia, Reason magazine's editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie explains why, with the exception of Rep. Ron Paul, he was unimpressed by the first Republican debate of the 2008 presidential campaign: "Until the GOP starts actively discussing a foreign policy that goes beyond either doubling down in Iraq or dreaming of bombing Iran, they aren’t yet offering voters what they need to hear: a reason to turn off Survivor and embrace the party that brought us the last six sorry years of foreign adventurism and domestic budget terrorism. The GOP might want to listen more closely to what Ron Paul is actually saying about the issues."

New Study: Using Toll Financing to Fund Highways
The federal gas tax (18.4 cents per gallon, 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel) has not been increased since 1993. During that time the cost of living, as measured by the consumer price index, has risen 40.4 percent, which means that the purchasing power of the gas tax has declined 29 percent. By 2009, the federal highway trust fund will be $21 billion in the red. And while the government tries to find a better way to finance much-needed new highways, your commute is going to get a lot longer. By 2030, drivers in 30 U.S. cities will experience daily traffic delays that make their commutes 50 percent longer than they would be in free-flowing traffic conditions. Today just four cities – Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. – experience that level of congestion. A new Reason Foundation report examines the various methods being used to fund major new highway projects and concludes toll financing is an "important part of our transportation system" that should be utilized more frequently.
» Press Release
» Full Study (.pdf)
» Reason's Transportation Research and Commentary

America's Most Livable City?
Pittsburgh was just named America's "most livable city," but don't try telling that to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Bill Steigerwald. In a column for Reason.com, Steigerwald writes, "Pittsburgh is in a death spiral. It’s bankrupt. Its school district spends $16,000 a year per kid. Its parking tax is the highest on Earth: 50 percent. City police and firefighters irresponsibly pad their numbers, salaries, and pensions—and openly trade their mayoral votes for sweetheart contracts. Meanwhile, local school and property taxes are among the highest in the country. So are public bus and taxi fares. And, oh yeah, highways are congested, in bad shape, and under-built. Yes, Pittsburgh is highly livable. But it's also dying. The region has the doomed demographics of Western Europe. It has fewer foreign-born immigrants and a higher percentage of white people than any major American city. In 1960, when the country had 175 million people, there were 2.4 million people in the metro Pittsburgh region, 1.6 million in Allegheny County and 604,000 in the city of Pittsburgh. Today, with 300 million Americans, the comparable numbers are 2.3 million metro, 1.2 million county and – incredibly – just 315,000 souls left in a city built to handle 1 million...So unless 50,000 immigrants invade Pittsburgh real soon, it looks like 'America’s Most Livable City' will soon become 'America's Most Leave-able City.'"

Why the FCC Shouldn't Regulate Violence on TV
In a column for the Los Angeles Times, Reason magazine editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie says the Federal Communications Commission report on TV violence "systematically misreads contemporary America...Despite its sober tone, the study rests on the demonstrably false idea that violent TV breeds violence in reality, and it also fails to take seriously the vast increase in child-friendly programming and parent-empowering viewing tools. The result is a list of recommendations to Congress that seems as comically and absurdly detached from contemporary America as an episode of 'SpongeBob SquarePants.'"
» Listen to Gillespie Discuss TV Violence on NPR's Talk of the Nation

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