Reason Alert: Bridge Collapse, Gas Tax

  • Bridge Collapse and Raising the Gas Tax
  • Congress Protects America From Privacy
  • Fight to End Farm Subsidies
  • Energy Mandates or Energy Taxes?
  • Kerry Howley on Fox's Red Eye Tonight
  • New at Reason.org and Reason.com

Bridge Collapse and Raising the Gas Tax
Reason Foundation's Robert Poole says in the aftermath of the Minneapolis bridge collapse "the first thing we should be looking deeply into is how we spend the highway money we have. If the current system is seriously flawed, it makes no sense to simply pour more money into it, unreformed. I fault the current federal highway funding system on two key points. The first is its long tradition of, and recent major uptrend in, allocating money to congress-members’ pet projects--rather than to projects that yield the most bang for the buck in addressing real transportation needs. A system that spends lavishly to build bridges to nowhere, while over 75,000 bridges are in danger of collapse and another 79,000 can’t handle today’s demand, is a system that cries out for fundamental change. The other basic problem is that the federal funding system, by design, shifts resources from populous, fast-growing states to low-population, low/no-growth states. You can understand why this was done originally: to make sure that Interstate links got built through rural states where there wasn’t enough traffic to generate enough fuel-tax revenue to cover the cost. But that was then, and this is now. Today we have massive needs in specific locations: to expand urban expressways to alleviate congestion and to expand the capacity of key Interstate routes to keep commerce flowing. Yet the federal funding mechanism still takes funds from the states where these needs are greatest and sends them to places like Alaska and North Dakota. We couldn't have designed a more perverse approach to solving our highway investment problem if we tried."
» Study Shows How Many Bridges are Deficient in Your State
» Reason's Transportation Research and Commentary

Congress Protects America From Privacy
"When you talk to your mother on the phone, do you have a reasonable expectation of privacy? I thought I did, but apparently I don't — at least, not anymore, because my mother lives in Jerusalem. Under the inaptly named Protect America Act of 2007, which President Bush signed into law on Sunday, the federal government no longer needs a warrant to eavesdrop on phone calls or read email messages between people in the U.S. and people in other countries. Unless the courts overturn this law or Congress declines to renew it when it expires in six months, Americans will have no legally enforceable privacy rights that protect the content of their international communications." - Reason magazine's Jacob Sullum examines the impact of Congress once again rolling over for President Bush by approving warrantless wiretaps.
» Julian Sanchez: Locked in a September 12 State of Panic

Fight to End Farm Subsidies
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) says the farm bill shows "a new direction." At Reason.com Liz Mair says the alleged new direction is the same as the old direction: pork, subsidies, and protectionist policies that are bad for everyone except a few farmers. Mair writes, "...as much as Democrats have heralded the bill’s supposed reforms, even the lightest reading shows that it represents more of the same — a flawed, wasteful approach to agricultural policy. The House Farm Bill allocates $286 billion over five years to agricultural programs — that’s an even bigger price tag than the one attached to the bloated 2002 Farm Bill, which increased agriculture spending by 80 percent over 1996’s Freedom to Farm Act, itself a huge bill. It continues the tradition of giving huge subsidies to wealthier farmers, though on a more limited basis than the 2002 Bill. Where the 2002 Bill dished out subsidies to farmers earning up to $2.5 million annually, this bill establishes an annual income threshold of $1 million, or $2 million if a husband and wife each claims subsidies. A slight improvement, at best."

Energy Mandates or Energy Taxes?
Reason magazine's Ronald Bailey analyzes the House's new energy bill and details how the government can cut energy use without forcing you to buy more expensive, energy efficient appliances. Bailey asks, "Is all this meddling with energy standards and markets really necessary to achieve substantial increases in energy efficiency? Not at all. If Congress actually wants to increase energy efficiency there is a simple, elegant and cost-effective way to how to go about it. Just make energy more expensive. The easiest way to do that is a carbon tax. Such a tax would make fossil fuels which are contributing to man-made global warming more expensive, making low-carbon energy alternatives more relatively attractive...Is all this meddling with energy standards and markets really necessary to achieve substantial increases in energy efficiency? Not at all. If Congress actually wants to increase energy efficiency there is a simple, elegant and cost-effective way to how to go about it. Just make energy more expensive. The easiest way to do that is a carbon tax. Such a tax would make fossil fuels which are contributing to man-made global warming more expensive, making low-carbon energy alternatives more relatively attractive."

Kerry Howley on Fox News Channel's Red Eye Tonight
Reason's Kerry Howley is scheduled to appear on Fox News Channel's Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld tonight at 2 a.m. Eastern / 11 p.m. Pacific.

New at Reason.com and Reason.org

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Our Intangible Riches
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