If you aren't enraged, shame on you!

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by DC_DEEP, Jun 14, 2006.

  1. DC_DEEP

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    (Just a little appetizer before the entree... the Congress <which includes dickhead cheney and our lovely supreme court> got their pay raises today... did you get yours?)

    There was a lovely article in the Washington Post this morning, about the Indiana toll road. This is a ~135+ mile stretch of INTERSTATE HIGHWAY 80/90 (read - federal highway) across northern Indiana, from the Ohio state line into Chicago IL. I already have issues with states charging tolls to drive on interstate highway, but now, IN has decided that they cannot maintain it, so they have chosen to lease it to two foreign private companies. Ok, I just don't think it's my fault that they continue to mismanage tax dollars earmarked for maintenance. But now they want to lease it out to foreign interests (at what will admittedly be higher toll rates)? If a private company takes ownership of a stretch of highway, doesn't that make it private property? Do state police and local police have any authority on private property? Will I get a rebate on federal, state, and local fuel taxes I spend while driving on that stretch? Does the state of Indiana even have the authority to lease public/federal highways to any private interest, let alone a foreign interest?

    This seems to be a trend. Chicago has leased some of its shoreline roads to private companies, and the Dulles Greenway in Virginia is leased to private management. Anyone care to wager on how long it will take before Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey follow suit on their respective turnpikes? My understanding is that the tolls are supposed to take up the slack where other tax dollars fall short, in the maintenance of these roads - not a cash-cow to line the coffers so that politicians can remodel their summer cottages and buy a new yacht. When the Dulles Toll Road was built, part of the legal agreement (by which they used eminent domain to steal property from citizens) was that, when the bonds were paid in full, the toll would be lifted. That never happened, and now Virginia wants to privatize that one, too.

    And yes, all these toll roads do affect me, personally. I drive frequently to New York City (partly on the NJ turnpike), and to Chicago and Detroit (on the PA, OH, and IN turnpikes). I just do not enjoy having the taxes double- and triple- dipped out of my pockets.
     
  2. Charles Finn

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    it has always been this way with our form of government.
    the rich get richer off the poor and middle class.
     
  3. HotBulge

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    Hi DC_DEEP,

    I think you have touched on an issue much deeper than toll roads - as if that weren't enough. You are right, it is ashame that our state governments can seem to manage their roads properly and are double/triple taxing us for their maintenance. What's more disturbing is that the government is handing over the management of the roads to private companies, especially foreign ones.

    The disturbing nature of these handovers is that our government is silently (though not secretly) handing over our natural and infrastructural assets to foreign corporations/governments. Foreign investors are less willing to take US denominated treasury bills, so now our government needs to offer more tangible assets. Whether its roads or ports, our nation is going to back more and more of its borrowing with its remaining assets.
     
  4. DC_DEEP

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    Well, that was exactly part of the "bigger picture" I was trying to get across. Almost as infuriating as these government actions are the people who say "It's to be expected" or "It will happen anyway, so why should I worry?" or "I can't do anything to stop it." Folks, what part of this DOESN'T bother you? Law-abiding citizens are harrassed on public sidewalks and forced to present ID and proof of employment; nearly strip-searched to get on public transportation; denied right-to-privacy in their homes and on the internet; phone calls documented and recorded and databased; bank accounts databased... and all in the name of national security, while foreign investors are simply handed the deed to the property on a "gold-pressed latinum" platter. I promise you that these folks will NOT handle our harbor security or our toll roads for FREE. So when they double the tolls (and continue to collect taxes initially earmarked for specifically these purposes) where do you think all your hard-earned dollars are going? It's gotta be nipped in the bud. Don't convince yourself that just because you don't live in Northern Indiana that it's not going to affect you. Once the other states see what's happening there, then next will be I-40.. then I-5... then I-70, I-80, I-95, I-10. Once they see you shitting dollars to drive one highway, they'll exsanguinate you for every last penny to drive on another. Don't forget, taxes are not supposed to be arbitrary income sources; as citizens, we GRANT that PRIVILEGE to the government for specific funding purposes... such as fuel taxes charged at the pump specifically to fund transportation-related costs, and property taxes specifically to fund schools. Definitely NOT "oh, as a legislator, I can't survive on $285,000 per year before perks. Let's put a 4-cent Butt Tax on each roll of toilet paper." Sorry, no, I don't buy their excuses, and I let 'em know it. Anyone else care to write to your esteemed legislators?
     
  5. Ethyl

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    I did that last summer when the state of Delaware decided to raise the toll. Now it costs 8 fucking bucks to drive from D.C. through a state the size of my parents' backyard. All because everyone is going to NY, DC, Philly, Baltimore, and Atlantic City and yes, we feel they are obligated to pay for the privilege of using our precious roads to take them where they'd rather be--anywhere but Delaware.
     
  6. dong20

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    Road tolls have been a feature of Motorway driving in mainland Europe for decades. In the UK now there are some toll roads, run by private companies for example the M6 toll, I use it because it's uncongested and well maintained, I value my time more than the £2-3 it costs to use. The alternative is free and usually OK but can be congested so it's a choice I make. Is that selfish? probably, practical? without a doubt.

    There are too many cars on our roads and if charging reduces unnecessary traffic, encourages car sharing or the use of more 'eco friendly vehicles' through expemptions, forces Governments to invest in efficient public transport etc then I say good.

    America perceived as 'infatutuated' with the car, and certainly outside major cities you neglect public transport in favour of it (as to a lesser degree do we) but we all know that can't continue and painful as it may be we also know some form of road usage charging is inevitable.

    If you (like me) want the convenience of getting in a car and going from A-B in a straight line in comfort and at speed, why shouldn't we pay a premium? as you do with most other things, nobody is forced to fly business for example, we choose to do so because it's better. We if we want good roads, well they cost money and why should non drivers or those who are willing to use 'slower' publicly funded roads subsidise us.

    <devils advocate..kind of>
    If a new road is a toll road or a road already has a toll, and you don't like it then don't use it, an imposed toll where there wasn't one is bad, especially if there is no viable alternative and I would understand you kicking off about that. If an existing toll is raised, well that's tough..nothing is free so pay up, slow up or catch the bus.....:tongue:
    </devils advocate..kind of>
     
  7. Lex

    Lex
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    Here is where this theory falls short, dong: In MD, you have to use the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to get from DC to Ocean City or Rehoboth or the eastern part of the state. There is no other way to get across the bay. Period. So, in some instances, there is no choice.

    If anyone drafts a form letter, I am happy to send it to my Congressmen and Senators and state legislators.

    DC DEEP--thanks again.
     
  8. Ethyl

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    We passed the infatuation stage some time ago. We're obsessed. No doubt about it. I plead guilty as well. To make things worse, Delaware's public transportation system is piss poor at best.

    Personally, I have no problem paying tolls for the roads on which I drive. My only problem is that Delaware charges higher tolls than most surrounding states. If you're driving from Maryland to NY, the toll road is only 11 miles long. That's not much road and I can't imagine even with constant paving it would warrant such exhorbitant tolls. It's common knowledge that the toll funds subsidize other areas of Delaware's economy. We have no sales tax (which attracts even more business from out-of-state) or gas tax. So Delawareans get a break by siphoning from the pockets of residents of neighboring areas. UNLESS they commute, which many do. It's sad we aren't more self-sufficient. I don't mind paying huge tolls in other states, especially NY or PA where the rising population causes considerable wear and tear on the roads. But Delaware? We may be the "First State", but fuck all, we're still small. More like the "Vampire State".

    Lex is right about this one. There are few alternatives and they're just as clogged when it's a summer weekend and there's beach traffic.

    I do appreciate the advocacy, Sir Devil. You have some valid points there. I'll shut my gob when I move:biggrin1:
     
  9. DC_DEEP

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    Ms. Bliss, thanks for that. Yes, I am quite familiar with the fair state of Delaware. Of course they are going to charge an arm and two gonads to drive that short 11 miles. They have to make up for all the money they AREN'T charging in incorporation fees. (Anyone ever wondered why there are so many credit card companies based in DE?) That's part of the problem I'm talking about.

    Some of you just don't have any idea what the transportation situation is like here in the mid-atlantic area of USA. I do take public transportation whenever possible, simply because I just really hate driving in this traffic. But public transportation is not always readily available. The population density and infrastructure in a 40-mile radius of Washington DC just simply will not allow construction of any new roadways to ease the traffic congestion on the existing roads. There are very few through streets in some areas, so alternate routes are just non-existent.

    And dong20, another part of my frustration is that yes, tolls are supposed to be used in keeping the roadways serviceable. Please drive the Pennsylvania Turnpike from one end to the other sometime. In spite of the frequent stops to pay tolls, the surface is HORRID with lumps and potholes everywhere, and even at off-times, you are likely to run into traffic jams, more stop than go for miles on end. And this is a long stretch. But the part that is most frustrating for me is this: All the Indiana, Ohio, Delaware, and Pennsylvania toll freeways are federal interstate freeways. Built mainly with federal tax dollars. We continue to pay federal taxes which are supposed to fund their construction and maintenance. We pay huge federal fuel taxes and surcharges on every gallon, which are supposed to go into the "Highway Superfund." Then on top of that, we have to pay tolls? And still have nearly unserviceable roadways? What the fuck are they doing with my money? And how is hiring a private company to collect the tolls going to INCREASE the amount of money going into the tax base? I have no doubt that after privatization, the tolls will increase significantly, the taxes will not go by the wayside, and (most likely due to graft and corruption) the quality of the roads will actually decrease.
     
  10. dong20

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    You are both quite correct which is why I did say :
    To cite two examples from the UK which have affected me for years (there are lots more):

    1. River Mersey Tunnels (x2) about 2 miles long, toll about £1.40 the only alternative is a 50+ mile round trip via Runcorn.. To pick up on an earlier comment, that toll was also only supposed to be in effect until the cost was paid, so far in almost 40 years of use not even the interest has been paid...:mad:
    2. Thames estuary....to get to parts of the SE/Kent the best route for me is over the M25/QE2 bridge (Toll £1) the alternative is a major detour via east london and the Blackwall tunnel (free).
    You both have my sympathy, I didn't mean to sound uncaring....which is why I said it in those <devils advocate...> tags but of course reality is often unfair!:tongue:
     
  11. dong20

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    No of course I don't and I was obviously speaking in very general and, l accept 'specific example' ignorant terms. I was trying to suggest that the current 'Car vs Public Transportation' balance is untenable and of course that's not unique to the US by any means and that it needs to be resolved.

    Some of the solution may be to reduce car use by tolls etc but that must be balanced with a practical alternative. I didn't say it would be easy or painless...I'm not against privatisation of such things by definition but in my experience its track record is far from glorious. :smile:
     
  12. DC_DEEP

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    I agree, partly, at least in theory. But that essentially punishes those who really have no choice. There is a minimum of public transportation where I live. It's at least 14 miles to the nearest subway station; the only bus line here is a commuter express, with 3 runs between 6:30 am and 8:45 am; and in the afternoon, 4 runs between 4:30 pm and 7:00 pm. Sometimes, the first two afternoon runs never even make it, so I have to take a different commuter line and walk an additional 3 miles home. I really had no choice but to live this far out, any closer to work and the housing costs nearly double, and I just do not make enough money to cover an $800,000 mortgage. $450,000 is bad enough. So, on those (not terribly uncommon) days when my work schedule does not match those of the bus, I have to drive to the train station or take a taxi ($25 to $30, depending on the traffic). Charging me an extra $5 per day, each direction, if I have to drive, is just not an acceptable way to "encourage" the others not to drive. And yes, when I do drive, I only drive as far as the subway station, and then take that to work.

    But you still seem to miss my main point, which is: do the states actually have the authority to 1) charge tolls on a federal interstate highway, and 2) lease toll systems on federal interstate highways out to foreign private businesses?
     
  13. dong20

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    I understand DC, but if you read all of what I said....I didn't say make all roads toll roads, make them outrageously expensive; hang the consequences and punish everyone!:rolleyes: I said toll roads may be part of a solution but added, crucially that it :

    That may include; better public transport, essential use allowances, rebates for daily commuting...park and ride..and more...I don't have all the answers. I'm just having a discussion....:biggrin1:

    Perhaps I have less 'sympathy' for America because of its (real and/or perceived) over dependence on cars, due in part no doubt to the vicious circle of a chronic lack of investment in public transport, the lack of political will to tackle that problem, and a hitherto "gas is cheap why should I bother?" attitude. Now, suddenly, gas isn't cheap* anymore and guess what it hurts..welcome to the club!!

    What is certain is that this problem is not going to magically go away by us carrying on 'ignoring' it. This is not a uniquely American problem but you do have it bad!!:tongue:

    Sorry, yes I did, can't tell you, where's a lawyer when you need one..:rolleyes:

    * Though in terms of GDP its still way cheaper than Europe.
     
  14. DC_DEEP

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    Our public transportation here does desperately need upgrading. During peak hours, even here at the "end of the line", the trains are packed like sardines (not to mention having to deal with stupid people, that's a whole other thread...) and just two stops in, where I used to live, I sometimes had to wait for 3 trains to go before one came along that was not packed beyond capacity. The "ambitious" expansion/renovation projects they have talked about for the last 4 years are going nowhere. There are mechanical problems with the new cars that have been ordered, mechanical problems with older cars that have supposedly been refitted. Each station will supposedly accomodate 8-car trains, but that has not been realized yet, they are still running 6-cars trains most of the time, and mid-day, 4-car trains. There just simply was not enough foresight when the system was designed 30-plus years ago. The population density and skyrocketed housing costs have forced anyone earning less than $100,000 per year out into the exurbs (the suburbs of the suburbs) where there just simply is no public transportation. Every single one of the light rail lines (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, and Blue) desperately needs to be expanded at least 20 miles out from its termini, especially the orange line in virginia... plus an expansion to the Dulles airport. Our "Metro" system, which includes light rail/subway, and buses, has just raised their fares twice in the last two years, want another increase, and claim they just do not have the resources to expand the bus routes. The bus I take to the train station (the commuter line I mentioned earlier) is "standing-room only" every morning and every afternoon.

    The problem I have with using tolls as a means of discouraging drivers is this: the ones who can least afford tolls are generally the ones who don't have a choice about taking the public transportation, and the ones who have more choices are generally the ones who would not really notice as much paying $300 per month in tolls. Some evidence of this is in what is called "HOV lanes" on the freeways. High-occupancy vehicles have a lane set aside which is supposed to be available only to vehicles with two or more passengers - originally designed with the "encouraging carpooling" idea. Unfortunately, the powers-that-be thought they found another cash cow, and have been toying with the idea of SELLING the HOV exemption stickers to those who can afford it and are willing to pay extra to be able to drive solo and still use the HOV lanes. It hasn't happened yet, but I'm sure it will. I don't know the answer, either... but I do know that more cash for the politicians is probably not it.
     
  15. SpeedoGuy

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    But the farsighted leaders in Washington DC and elsewhere are ignoring the problem, either out of stupidity or deliberate malice. Or, worse, they are implicitly suggesting that we can consume our way out of an energy shortage.

    Consider: The U.S. is involved in two distant wars, the economy is stagnant, inflation rising and energy prices are escalating dramatically. What do our so-called leaders do? Nothing. Pretend the problem will go away.

    * Does the Boy King show some leadership and call for voluntary energy conservation measures like highway speed limits and ride-sharing? No, he wants oil drilling in national wildlife refuges and says consumption of fossil fuels is "blessed".

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/briefings/20010507.html

    * Does the Congress endorse mileage standards for new automobiles? No, these were shelved as unwieldy and unpopular. More votes can be gotten by grandstanding over non-issues like flag burning or Teri Shiavo.

    * Does the auto industry apply its considerable creativity to improving fuel efficiency technology? No, it just builds and markets ever-bigger cars.

    * Does the average consumer attempt to conserve fuel or change driving habits? Not that I can detect. Traffic is more dense than ever and I see no shortage of Hummers or massive recreational vehicles on the road anywhere.

    So carry on, consumer, there's nothing to worry about.
     
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