gas tax and pork politics

I picked up some buttermilk today as well as whole wheat flour. So now I'll be able to try out that recipe for the Irish Bread that I posted about a few days back. I'll probably make it on Friday since I'm planning on roasting a turkey this weekend and the bread would be nice to have on the side.

I'll take a few pictures and hopefully it'll both look and taste good!

This is going to be my second try at this post. Firefox is being annoying today and has been quite unstable. I lost this post earlier when the browser collapsed while I was uploading a picture. I find Opera to be more stable a platform but unfortunately it doesn't work well with Blogger in the Compose Mode. Damn computers!

I read an article in the current issue (April) of Car & Driver about the pork barrel politics involved with the Federal Highway Trust Fund. The article is written by Patrick Bedard--I can't link to it since the C&D website doesn't have the April issue indexed on its site yet--and he's a regular columnist with C&D as well as a former race car driver.

The Federal Highway Trust Fund derives its income from the federal gasoline tax. This tax is a little over 18 cents a gallon (24 cents for diesel) and adds up to about $40 billion a year. The original purpose for the money was to build the National Interstate Highway System and the tax was implemented in 1956. As you might have noticed--the Interstates were finished around 30 years ago but the tax lingers on.

Since there's few new Interstates being built the money in the Trust Fund really started piling up until in 1982 Congress started raiding the fund for reasons that were loosely justified under the original charter. Fast forward to now. In 2005 about $23 billion is going out of the Trust Fund to pay for local projects that help get congressfolk reelected. Pork barrel politics shines on.

The article details some 22 projects that Bedard finds particularly annoying but this only scratches the surface since there's 6,371 earmarked projects being funded via the Highway Trust Fund. My personal favorite was the $223 million going to build a bridge from Ketchikan, Alaska (population 8,900) to Gravina Island (population 50). Currently there's a ferry keeping the two connected at a cost of $6 a ride.

For the cost of that bridge, you could have paid for nearly 40 million free ferry rides or given the money outright to the residents of Ketchikan to the tune of $25,000 each. LOL Of course the money for the bridge doesn't go to the residents, it goes to construction companies or more accurately the owners who are no doubt contributors to political coffers.

To no great surprise, the congressman for Alaska happens to be chairman of the House Transportation Committee. If Don Young wants funding, he gets it. $590 million in 2005, as a matter of fact. By the way, that's well over $1,000 for every resident of the state.

Comments

Ditsy Chick said…
I heard Colorado has funding for something similar///a bridge, but the road that connects it to anywhere, has not been built yet.
Claire said…
Hmmm sounds complicated!!
poopie said…
Maybe they'll spend it all before I-69 slices through West Tennessee.
Travel Italy said…
I always have a hard time with political subject matters. I believe most politicians are corrupt and this has taken America down a difficult road. I think we need a clean slate. Eliminate the existing political class and start over just like a bankrupt company would do.

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