Reason Alert: Selling Turnpikes

  • States Selling Turnpikes
  • Radicals for Capitalism
  • State Governments Have a Drug Habit
  • What the North Korea Nuke Deal Means for Iran
  • Questions for the Presidential Candidates
  • New at and

States Selling Turnpikes
In 2002, Reason Foundation Founder Robert Poole proposed truck-only toll lanes to improve safety and shipping efficiency. In 2003, Poole called for converting carpool lanes into toll lanes to get better use of the precious road capacity. And in 2005, Poole asked "Should States Sell Their Toll Roads?" With governments across the country now implementing and investigating all of his ideas, Poole testified before the House subcommittee on highways and transit this week. In his testimony, Poole explained why public-private partnerships are the best way to build and operate the major road projects we need today: "For a new toll road in Texas, for example, a toll traffic and revenue study estimated the [state's] ability to finance $600 million, but the project's cost was $1.3 billion. Texas DOT turned to a long-term lease approach, in which the private sector will finance the entire $1.3 billion project, in exchange for a 50-year concession. Three factors seem to drive such results. First, the concession agreement adds certainty to future toll increases that always far less predictable with toll agencies. Second, the private sector seems more aggressive in both attracting traffic and in reducing costs (e.g., by making full use of electronic toll collection). And third, the private sector can take depreciation as a tax write-off, like any other business, but toll agencies can't, since they pay no income taxes." Poole's written testimony detailing why we should utilize public-private partnerships to build new roads and why we should consider leasing existing toll roads to private companies is here.
 » Reason's Transportation Research and Commentary

Radicals for Capitalism
In his new book Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, Reason Senior Editor Brian Doherty traces the evolution of the libertarian movement through the entertaining life stories of five influential leaders - Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, and Murray Rothbard. The Wall Street Journal's John Fund says, "Brian Doherty finally gives libertarianism its due...eloquently capturing the appeal of the 'pure idea,' its origins in great minds and the feistiness of its many current champions." The New York Sun declares, "As a senior editor for Reason magazine — the largest and most influential libertarian publication in the world today — Mr. Doherty is perfectly positioned to have researched and written this tome" and calls it a "remarkably engaging and encyclopedic history of the movement."
 » Watch Doherty Discuss Radicals for Capitalism on C-Span's After Words

State Governments Have a Drug Habit: Crack Taxes and Drug Stamps
Tennessee's "crack tax" brought in $1.77 million last year and has added nearly $3.5 million to the state's coffers since it was first collected in 2005. The Tennessee law, which an appellate court has ruled unconstitutional, requires anyone possessing certain amounts of illegal drugs to buy tax stamps for the drugs' packages. A new Reason Foundation report finds 21 states are taxing illegal drugs today. Eight other states have had to repeal their taxes on illegal substances, most after having the laws declared unconstitutional. "States are basically looking for another way to squeeze revenue out of the war on drugs," said Adrian Moore, vice president of research at Reason Foundation. "Governments aren't making money selling the stamps, the big money comes from fines charged to people who are busted on drug charges and then charged additional fines for not having the stamps." The press release is here and the full study is here (.pdf).

What the North Korea Nuke Deal Means for Iran
"Not to douse all the warm feelings flowing on the Korean peninsula at signs that North Korea will abandon its nuclear weapons program, but this might not be about you. The Bush administration's sudden resolve to get to yes with Kim Jong Il comes just as the United States sends a third carrier battle group toward the Persian Gulf while pressing a case against Iran for attacks on American forces in Iraq...By making progress with North Korea, the Bush administration can tell the world that Washington can negotiate with just about anyone, even the crazy North Koreans. If Iran cannot come to the table on nuclear matters, then that is Tehran's fault. By extension, then, Washington has no choice but to take the military route to resolve the nuclear issue." - Reason's Jeff Taylor examines whether the North Korea deal signals a new reliance on negotiation or if it opens the door to another war.

Questions for the Presidential Candidates
If Tim Russert, Bob Schieffer, George Stephanopoulos or Chris Wallace are listening, Reason's David Weigel has some questions he'd like posed to each of the 2008 presidential candidates.

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton
"Defending your vote in favor of the Iraq resolution, you said: ‘As a senator from New York, I lived through 9/11 and am still dealing with the aftereffects.' What was Iraq's role in the 9/11 attacks?"

Arizona Sen. John McCain
"You've backed off on some campaign finance reforms, and you yourself are opting out of public financing for 2008. Could you explain why the other candidates should abide by the old campaign finance reforms, and by McCain-Feingold?"

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama
"In your 2004 campaign for Senate, you approached the issue of a nuclear Iran this way: ‘Us launching some missile strikes into Iran is not the optimal position for us to be in. On the other hand, having a radical Muslim theocracy in possession of nuclear weapons is worse.' How far along would Iran's nuclear program have to get before an Obama administration launched missile strikes?"

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani
"When you were mayor of New York, you made two attempts to extend your term in office. You opposed a term limits bill that voters passed; you publicly speculated over staying in office after September 11, and only reluctantly stopped a third party from nominating you for a third term after the state legislature made it clear they wouldn't allow it. Given that the last six years have seen a vast expansion of presidential power, how can Americans trust you not to abuse the office and seek more and more personal authority?"
Weigel's full wish-list of questions is here.

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