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RE: [carfree_cities] Digest Number 1024

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  • Scott TenBrink
    turpin wrote: This is very simple. A lot of the cost of urban roads, their management, and their maintenance comes directly from state
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 25, 2003
      "turpin" <turpin@...> wrote:
      "This is very simple. A lot of the cost of urban roads, their management,
      and their maintenance comes directly from state and state and city taxes, or
      bonds that are paid by these taxes. Drivers don't see this as a cost of
      driving. In concept, that's easy to change. If all these costs were rolled
      into fees on fuel, vehicles, and parking, people would drive less because
      they faced a steeper incremental cost
      for doing so.
      "The political argument for THAT change is much more straight-forward than
      for a complex development scheme. It is simply an argument against subsidy,
      that those who create the expense should bear the cost."

      Many people have written to promote more direct taxing on driving (i.e. gas
      taxes) arguing that those who use the roads should pay for them. I'm
      wondering what kinds of effects this sort of direct taxation would have on
      the cost and availability of all the goods that are transported back and
      forth across the nation.
      While I am a big supporter of buying locally, there are certainly situations
      where central production and wide distribution makes more sense. Wouldn't a
      direct tax that was effective in discouraging driving put diminish the
      infrastructure that we rely on for transport of goods?
      In a way, much of our food, electronics, clothing, appliances, etc. are also
      subsidized by using tax money to maintain road systems that allow for easier
      transport of goods. It seems that the popularity of personal transport
      supports the cheap transport of goods.
      How do all of you see the distinction between delivery of essential goods
      and unnecessary person transit? Are there any actual figures on the impact
      of reduced personal transport (and thus fewer highway funds) on transport of
      goods?

      -Scott
    • Richard Risemberg
      Well, it would shift a lot more freight traffic back to rail, which is much more efficient in terms of energy and land use, and financially as well, once you
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 25, 2003
        Well, it would shift a lot more freight traffic back to rail, which is much more efficient in terms of energy and land use, and financially as well, once you remove the road subsidy paid to trucking companies etc. Slightly slower, but so what? How essential are most of those goods anyway?

        True essentials--bulk foods, energy products--already more by rail.

        Any increase in costs for products that would still move by road would be offset by lower taxes. Even right-wing troglodytes can get behind that.

        Richard
        -------Original Message-------
        From: Scott TenBrink <dstb@...>
        Sent: 06/25/03 09:32 AM
        To: "'carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com'" <carfree_cities@yahoogroups.com>
        Subject: RE: [carfree_cities] Digest Number 1024

        >
        >
        "turpin" <turpin@...> wrote:
        "This is very simple. A lot of the cost of urban roads, their management,
        and their maintenance comes directly from state and state and city taxes,
        or
        bonds that are paid by these taxes. Drivers don't see this as a cost of
        driving. In concept, that's easy to change. If all these costs were rolled
        into fees on fuel, vehicles, and parking, people would drive less because
        they faced a steeper incremental cost
        for doing so.
        "The political argument for THAT change is much more straight-forward than
        for a complex development scheme. It is simply an argument against
        subsidy,
        that those who create the expense should bear the cost."

        Many people have written to promote more direct taxing on driving (i.e.
        gas
        taxes) arguing that those who use the roads should pay for them. I'm
        wondering what kinds of effects this sort of direct taxation would have on
        the cost and availability of all the goods that are transported back and
        forth across the nation.
        While I am a big supporter of buying locally, there are certainly
        situations
        where central production and wide distribution makes more sense. Wouldn't
        a
        direct tax that was effective in discouraging driving put diminish the
        infrastructure that we rely on for transport of goods?
        In a way, much of our food, electronics, clothing, appliances, etc. are
        also
        subsidized by using tax money to maintain road systems that allow for
        easier
        transport of goods. It seems that the popularity of personal transport
        supports the cheap transport of goods.
        How do all of you see the distinction between delivery of essential goods
        and unnecessary person transit? Are there any actual figures on the
        impact
        of reduced personal transport (and thus fewer highway funds) on transport
        of
        goods?

        -Scott

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        >
      • turpin
        ... Making drivers pay the cost of the roads they use is not a tax, but a usage fee. ... There are two answers to this, the general and specific. The general
        Message 3 of 3 , Jun 25, 2003
          Scott TenBrink <dstb@i...> wrote:
          > Many people have written to promote
          > more direct taxing on driving (i.e.
          > gas taxes) arguing that those who
          > use the roads should pay for them.

          Making drivers pay the cost of the
          roads they use is not a tax, but a
          usage fee.

          > I'm wondering what kinds of effects
          > this sort of direct taxation would
          > have on the cost and availability
          > of all the goods that are transported
          > back and forth across the nation.

          There are two answers to this, the
          general and specific. The general
          answer is that to the extent that
          certain industries have been favored
          by the road subsidy, yes they will be
          hurt by its removal, but this overall
          will improve economic efficiency.
          Subsidies, while they help specific
          beneficiaries, introduce general
          economic efficiencies in a variety of
          ways, and should be avoided except
          where there is specific and good
          reason to do otherwise. The government
          doesn't help things by lowering the
          price of an arbitrary good or service.
          This is as true for roads as it is for
          milk. (And vice versa!)

          The specific answer is that long
          range transport will be affected less
          than transport around the city. Rail
          might become competitive once again,
          but generally, industry will do just
          fine at getting goods cheaply and
          quickly from city A to city B. It is
          within cities that we will see the
          big changes, in the direction that
          Crawford describes. And that's a good
          thing, because that's where there are
          the greatest externalities to be
          relieved.
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