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"The consumption tax part of this equation is not the problem."


It's the aversion to simply increasing this tax that creates the need to look at alternative revenue systems. Be it tolls, tracking devices, whatever.


If faced with the idea of facing toll booths, or tracking transponders, I'd say most Americans would be happy to pay a bit more at the pump. But the idea we can do nothing is irresponsible. We will pay of infrastructure one way or the other. It can be planned and controlled or we can pay twice the cost for emergency repairs etc. when there are catastophic failures.



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Yah, BS-87, I agree with yeh there. I was appalled to find out how some police agencies have "dump your iPhone data" devices that they are usin' without warrants on the assumption that if you "voluntarily" surrendered your phone when they asked that it's OK to data dump your entire phone. Location tracking data, call and financial records, etc.


Best if that stuff is just never collected. Second best would be a federal privacy law with draconian penalties for private companies for collecting any data without full opt-in disclosure, and thermonuclear penalties for ever selling/sharing data without positive opt-in permission for each and every individual disclosure or data sale.


Right now it's the Wild West out there, and so many companies are creating huge tracking sets on individuals. Downright scary.


But SA's right, eh? We do need a fair way of paying for this stuff. That's why I prefer the consumption tax. No tracking required.



(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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Beavah and I agree on something. I should probably go make a note of this someplace...



That we also agree consumption tax is preferable to tolls etc... gets eerie.



I need to play devil's advocate here though and opt for the purist stance that the free market would create far better roads and care for them much better than the government ever could or would. In fact, we'd probably see a whole lot more alternatives to cars and gasoline if this were the case from the start.


Let's add the govt's creation of interstates to the list of things wrong with America.


Weren't the interstates inspired by the fascist Nazi's anyway?

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The interstate highway system was created during the Eisenhower administrations to alleviate the concern of the armed forces that logistically, we could not move our defense resources around in an economical and timely fashion.


The public benefit was that I could travel longer distances more quickly and in some cases more safely. The public drawback was that travelling the interstates in Georgia, Pennsylvania. Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, Arizona or almost anywhere has the same sterile, repetitive scenery regardless of location. Local "flavor" was all but lost (great for Kansas mind you, bad for anywhere else).(This message has been edited by acco40)

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I need to play devil's advocate here though and opt for the purist stance that the free market would create far better roads and care for them much better than the government ever could or would.


Good luck with that, BS-87. Yeh need to study more economics and history.


Da problem with your notion is that roads and other infrastructure are not fungible, unless you are willing to give up da notion of private ownership of real estate. Yeh can buy eggs from anywhere, but there's usually only one or two places to build a road or bridge. So rather than having a free market, what yeh have is thousands of private monopolies. This fellow owns and charges tolls for this ford or bridge crossing. This other fellow charges for this mountain pass, etc.


What yeh end up with is poverty, eh? You destroy the free market on every other good and service because da transportation friction costs are too high. Yeh are forced to buy eggs from the local egg producer, because the egg producer 2 counties away has to pay for the 17 tolls between here and there to the private landowners who control the bridges, ferries, and roads. Look at da history of Germany back in the 16th, 17th, 18th and early 19th century. Look at Africa now.


When you invest as a people in a common infrastructure, that's what creates free markets, eh? Free markets depend on a common infrastructure. Which do yeh think works better, the modern stock market (a common, regulated infrastructure with standardized instruments) or tribal barter in Botswana?


This is an important point, eh? It's one that the always-less-government neocons seem not to understand. Free markets depend on a stable infrastructure and regulated system of trade. If yeh don't have transportation and communication infrastructure, the friction costs are too high. If yeh don't have stable, regulated systems of trade, the risk premium and time delays are way too high.


That's why building the national defense highway system was a genius move for da U.S., because it strengthened and enabled free markets.


Da trick is to limit the government's role to that sort of infrastructure and regulatory investment which facilitates freedom, without allowing it to interfere with freedom. To promote the general welfare, without tryin' to promote specific welfare.




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"It's one that the always-less-government neocons seem not to understand."


I agree with you Beavah, and was merely presenting the purist stance. Although some may argue that while having things like the interstate make trade ultimately cheaper it also makes the development of culture much more difficult.


We're here to further the debate, not use foul language like "neocon"


Also, the neo-neocon is what you're describing, the type who are contradictory in wanting less government but then asking for more regulation on social issues like the drug war and abortion.


Bush era neocons never tried to pretend they wanted less government. They were always pretty up front with telling you that you had to give up a bajillion freedoms to be safe and we need more money for more war.

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Yah,sorry. I didn't realize neocon was foul language. ;)


I agree da labels get in the way, eh? It's just frustratin' to me when people who claim to be conservatives advocate for some of this stuff. I used to be proud to be a conservative.


But I recognize times and terms change, and get co-opted by other groups.


Gotta get back to Botswana. I was bartering for a fit for Mrs. Beavah and had da fellow talked down to a bag of turnips and three hours use of my yak. ;)





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I think that your definition of neocon is rather off the mark. I live in the Second Congressional District of Tennessee which has been continuously Republican since the Civil War (I have been told that no other congressional district holds that distinction but that might be a little chest thumping. Unlike many areas of the country, FDR was seen in a negative light because he confiscated land by Imminent Domain for TVA, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and later the Oak Ridge complex (X-10, Y-12, and K-25). The people here felt like they were no appropriately compensated and we treated badly by outsiders who acted in a superior manner. The first is debatable but the second was absolutely true and well documented. My family has supported conservative Republicans for generations. Most folks in this district are also socially conservative as well dating back many decades. We are certainly not neocons but conservatives.

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You joke about local economies, likening it to bartering in Botswana, but the fact of the matter is that there's something to be said for local economies. This is because it makes the most relevant laws those that are applied and enforced in the community.



The community's ordinances should be the most relevant laws in our life.


The state's laws should be law of the land that we live by punishable by incarceration.


The federal laws should ensure everyone's playing fair and therein preventing civil wars between states, and also protecting the nation's borders.



With a strong federal presence of government like ours, the most relevant laws in our lives are taxation and entitlements. Power is stripped from communities and states are neutered. This makes the idea of the "social contract" impossible to be lived in America. If some people want to live in a place where socially conservative and religious principles are law, there are states that would choose to govern in that way if they could. People who lived there now and don't like it have the option of living by those laws or emigrating to another state of like mind to theirs. When the federal government takes the role that should be the states' welfare and taxation and education and transportation etc... we cannot live the social contract.


The interstates may not be the worst offender of this premise, but they're one of many examples.




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Yah, hmmmmm...


Me thinks you're perhaps definining "social contract" a bit narrowly there, eh? Or maybe just treatin' it as a bit too much of a holy grail/panacea.


I'm generally in favor of local autonomy and states rights. I think local folks should determine education and local taxes and ordinances and all that.


I do however think that it's pretty clear that breaks down when it comes to economics, which is why da federal government was formed in the first place. Trade barriers between states, transportation friction between states, multiple currencies between states and the like stifle economic growth and development. Look at Europe.


Da same is also true of laws that affect trade, transportation, and economics. Having different rules for airplanes when they cross from Massachusetts to Connecticut doesn't make a lot of sense. Similarly, limiting the fundamental rights of a citizen if he happens to travel from Wisconsin to Minnesota would be a problem. Look at da mess in Japan with half the country on a completely different power grid, so that when a disaster hits, yeh can't transfer power to where it's needed.


So I think if yeh value economic health and job growth and such, there are huge advantages to common standards and infrastructure in communications, transportation, and trade. And that includes standards which make it possible for the labor force to be mobile, eh? When midwestern manufacturing dries up, yeh want people to be able to move to Texas without too much friction, because that's healthier economically for everyone.


I think there's some healthy room to debate where the edges are in modern world. Personally, I think the big federal entitlement programs were ill-conceived and are doomed. But they do have the advantage that they are portable. State pension funds, or local ones, by contrast, are not portable. So they hold people in place even when economic opportunity suggests they should move to find a better position in a different state.


I think da federal welfare programs are a complete waste, and better handled locally without the federal overhead and over-regulation. At the same time, I think federal disaster relief & recovery is sometimes called for, because local folks hit by a major hurricane or an army of tornadoes or a 500 year flood can be overwhelmed. But then, when yeh look at da dying midwestern manufacturing economy of the past couple of years, yeh realize that in some cases the needs that generate welfare can become a disaster which overwhelms the locals just as surely as a hurricane. So perhaps a federal "back up" role is called for there as well. After all, those midwesterners have paid for a lot of hurricane disaster relief over da years.


So where we draw the edges in da modern, interconnected world should be the subject of a mature, adult conversation among citizens. Unfortunately it's become more of a two-year-old shouting match. :(


I think yeh want to keep da federal government limited to the economic and infrastructure role, and to some level of disaster relief, be it invasion by tornadoes or Canadians.


But then what do yeh do about the cheaters? What do yeh do with the state that doesn't put any money into its own disaster preparedness and instead relies on federal relief?


What do you do with the state that doesn't make a real investment in educatin' its kids, and instead relies on a low tax rate to attract well-educated folks from other jurisdictions to maintain its economy?


What do yeh do with a state that attracts a lot of senior citizens because of its climate, and therefore has disproportionately high medical costs? If Medicare went away, after all, it would be a good investment for us northern states to pay to put put retirees on buses to Florida. ;)




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You've listed reasonable things that fall under the category I listed for necessary federal laws for preventing cheaters.


You've conceded the programs that should be localized instead of federalized, which are also the ones I feel strongest about.


For some reason anyone reading this would assume we disagree when it's pretty plain that we don't.


The only difference is I list deductively reasoned launching pads and you're inductively pigeon-holing the to reach the rational application.


Actually sounds like a pretty effective form of policy-making...

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This is being done now in Switzerland and other portions of the EU.


And you thought the OnStar system was a nice freebie from Chevy.


Just as they can disable a stolen car, the day isn't far away when they disable it because


the smog in SOCAL is bad today.



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Here in Murlin, they ("they") just completed the first 3 mile section of an Interstate quality road, when complete, it will be about 18 miles, I think. It had been laid in the master plans 50 years ago, but never built. Over the last 15 years, first one governor said no, then another said yes, then another said it depends, then said no, finally a governor said yes, the legislature said ok, and we were off and paving. It was built with the proviso that it be a toll road and pay it's own way, so to speak. The first 3mile section might save 5 minutes travel time between the two present ends, and the toll is $1.15 mid day, higher in rush hour ("Peak Times") and lower overnight. No toll booths, no cash accepted. One must have the ezpass digital reader on your car. If not, they photo your tag, ID the owner, and send him a bill for the toll plus $3. administrative fee. If you don't pay up in atimely manner, a $40. fine is added.

Pay as you go.

Now, when I suggested that a scale be included in the entrance step of my Transit bus, and that the passenger be charged by the pound, they laughed at me.

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Similar experience down here only it's about 10 miles and the toll is higher. It gets about 1/3 the traffic needed to pay for itself and the investors are (hopefully) going to lose their shirts rather than the state bailing them out. The private sector insisted that the presence of this road would stimulate development along it and traffic to match. They were wrong.

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