For Whom the Governor Tolls

by Don Boudreaux on January 18, 2006

in Myths and Fallacies, Prices, Regulation, Travel

Virginia’s new governor, Tim Kaine (D), gave a speech earlier this week proposing to help solve Virginia’s (terrible) traffic-congestion problem by restricting economic growth.  The idea, of course, is to keep population growth down so that less traffic than otherwise clogs Virginia’s roads.

Kaine is also opposed to placing tolls on existing roads.  In his own words: "as a general rule, I don’t believe in tolling existing roads."

While I can find no reason expressed by Kaine to justify his opposition to tolling existing roads, a good bet is that — like many other people opposed to tolls — he believes that tolls are an unfair burden upon the poor.

Does Gov. Kaine not see that any plan, such as his, to restrict the building of new homes causes housing prices to rise to heights higher than they would otherwise reach and, hence, creates a larger burden for the poor to bear?  Or perhaps the Governor believes that higher prices caused by government-imposed restrictions on housing supply are inherently more fair than are the burdens that arise from pricing inherently scarce road space.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments

comments

24 comments    Share Share    Print    Email

{ 12 comments }

Dom January 18, 2006 at 5:29 pm

It isn't really all that simple. I live in Southern New Jersey, and the housing boom carries a toll of its own. My little farming area and its atractions — I used to ride my bike to buy produce at small local stores — is now crowded with condos and townhouses.

Dom

Ammonium January 18, 2006 at 5:53 pm

Good point Dom: growth controls are for the pleasure of the rich.

John Pertz January 18, 2006 at 9:30 pm

"It isn't really all that simple. I live in Southern New Jersey, and the housing boom carries a toll of its own. My little farming area and its atractions — I used to ride my bike to buy produce at small local stores — is now crowded with condos and townhouses."

What is the point of this post? Are you trying to make the case for facism? Your post implies that you have an idealized vision for your community and therefore when anyone's actions are in discrodance with your vision then they are somehow in the wrong. In fact it sounds like your aproximation of liberty is that people are free to act so long as you approve of their actions. Please tell me that I am mistaken.

medusa January 19, 2006 at 7:23 am

"While I can find no reason expressed by Kaine to justify his opposition to tolling existing roads, a good bet is that — like many other people opposed to tolls — he believes that tolls are an unfair burden upon the poor."

Nope. He believes that the political cost of tolls would be unbearable. As you pointed out, concern for "the poor" is not an issue.

EcoDude January 19, 2006 at 1:40 pm

Isn't is at all possible that the average cost per trip would be reduced for the poor if they carpool? If an individual trip for a poor person riding in their own car is say $1, it could be reduced to $.25 if 4 people carpool. I'm sure other benefits would ensue, i.e. improved environmental quality.

John Pertz January 19, 2006 at 3:16 pm

Why do poor people pay taxes? Ive never understood the reasoning behind having them pay any taxes. They should be allowed to collect their receits and turn them into the government for reimbursement. The poorest Americans on average are spend 18K a year. If they were reimbursed the full amount of sales tax for what they spend then that would come to a savings of around 1200 per person. So why not have people pay tolls for the road and reimburse them their sales tax and whatever tolls they may have paid during the year?

True_Liberal January 19, 2006 at 10:59 pm

"Why do poor people pay taxes? Ive never understood the reasoning behind having them pay any taxes…"

Why should the rich pay taxes? They are the ones who create jobs to drive prosperity throughout the society. Taxing the rich merely means fewer poor folk will have jobs.

I've never yet been successful finding a job working for a poor man.

R-Squared January 20, 2006 at 12:56 am

I guess the Governor is not that smart, but there is indeed a possiblity that he's very smart and he has a long-term "strategy". James Michael Curley, a four-time mayor of Boston, used wasteful redistribution
to his poor Irish constituents and incendiary rhetoric to encourage richer citizens to emigrate from Boston, thereby shaping the electorate in his favor. The Governor may be doing similar things, encourage poor people to emigrate out.

Robert January 21, 2006 at 4:11 pm

John Pertz, while reimbursing the poor sounds novel, who pays for it? The Government? How does the government make money? By taxing other people.

save_the_rustbelt January 28, 2006 at 12:53 pm

Virginia has two markets, the area in proximity to Washington DC and the rest of the state.

The first is rapidly growing into a disaster area (I don't care all that much because I live way west, but it is an interesting academic question).

People move there for quality of life and by moving there ruin the quality of life. Interesting irony.

And wealthy Republicans do like the poor — they need someone to do the grass, clean the house and raise the children.

Wealthy Democrats do the same, but tip better because of a guilty conscience.

Xmas January 30, 2006 at 3:10 pm

John Pertz,

The working poor already get the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is a negative tax. So, in effect, they are getting back more than they paid in Federal income taxes. (But not payroll taxes, because Social Security and Medicare are "insurance", not taxes.)

There is nothing wrong with your idea. If a state does yearly taxes like the Federal government, it too could have a negative tax for low income workers to counteract tolls and sales taxes.

Campervan Rental Australia April 22, 2008 at 2:44 am

Nice Reading…

Previous post:

Next post: