Posts tagged Randall O’Toole

There Is No Right Way To Manage a Subsidy

Randall O’Toole, The Antiplanner (26 April 2011):

The second problem with life-cycle budgeting is that its advocates want some sort of federal law imposing it on transportation agencies. … Just what those agencies need: more red tape consuming scarce transportation dollars and delaying needed transportation projects.

The real problem with federal transportation spending is that Congress has split federal funds into 40 or 50 pots of money and greatly restricted how state and local agencies can spend from each pot. Better incentives are the solution, not more bureaucracy. Congress should give state and local governments more flexibility in how to spend the money, combined with incentives (see pp. 7-8) to insure the money is effectively spent.

Actually, no. The real problem with federal transportation spending is that Congress spends other people’s money on subsidizing transportation infrastructure. Politically-appropriated incentives offer no more of a solution than bureaucracy, because there is no political solution to the problem. The only way to determine where people need roads, or rails, or planes, or bicycle lanes, or alternative uses of scarce resources that have nothing to do with transportation or infrastructure, is to leave us — people, not agencies — free to experiment and work it out ourselves. There’s no way to approximate that by jiggering the way that subisides are allocated because there’s no way to simulate the effects of free and mutual exchange while leaving political ownership and political control intact. Unless and until you dissipate the control, all you have is a different style for managing the subsidy. You can’t fix the damage of taxation with more flexible or efficient allocation of the spoils.

What Congress should do is go home, give back the scarce transportation dollars they stole, and take up an honest living.

Friday Lazy Linking

<li><p><a href="">Raucous Radio. DarianW, <cite></cite> (2010-07-20)</a>. <q>If you haven’t tuned into Thinking Liberty, you’re missing a live anarcho-podcast that keeps getting better and better. In May we moved to a new location with our own equipment, and the quality of the production improved dramatically. The improvement in production quality made us more enthusiastic and confident in...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2010-07-22.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="">The Vault of Legislators. Jesse Walker, <cite>Jesse Walker: Reason Magazine articles and blog posts.</cite> (2010-07-22)</a>. <q>Bryan Alexander describes one gothic remnant of the Cold War: a set of underground chambers that were supposed to serve as &quot;an emergency shelter for the entire United States Congress, a hideout and bolt hole in case of nuclear war, hidden away beneath a benign-looking hotel.&quot; Built in 1958, the...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2010-07-22.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="">More protection for military faculty, or less? Kevin Smith, <cite>Scholarly Communications @ Duke</cite> (2010-07-20)</a>. <q>Section 105 of the U.S. Copyright Law tells us that there can be no copyright in works of the federal government.  Almost uniquely among the nations of the world, the US government does not get to exclude others (including taxpayers) from using works created by government employees as part of...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2010-07-22.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="">Crowdsourcing Curation: The Social Graph as Gatekeeper. Eric Reasons, <cite>Eric Reasons</cite> (2010-07-20)</a>. <q>I've written before about the compromise we tacitly agree to when amateurs take over the roles formerly held by professionsals. The Internet promotes this takeover by lowering the cost of production and transmission to near zero for nearly every user, for everything from words (blogs) to pictures (Flickr) to video...</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2010-07-22.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href="">Libertarianism on the Road. <cite>Matthew Yglesias</cite> (2010-07-22)</a>. Vulgar libertarianism is making yourself into a Toole of state capitalism. (Via Kevin Carson.) <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2010-07-22.)</em></p></li>
<li><p><a href=";fd=R&amp;usg=AFQjCNGV8wmq2rPrPQGl4U3-b1FJzteOiA&amp;url=">Internet Archive sets goal to digitize more books - Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. <cite>&quot;library&quot; - Google News</cite> (2010-07-20)</a>. <q>Internet Archive sets goal to digitize more booksRochester Democrat and ChronicleBrewster Kahle, a digital librarian and founder of a virtual library called the Internet Archive,, has launched a campaign to double the ...Google preps projects to test digital librarySalt Lake Tribuneall 8 news articles »</q> <em style="font-size: smaller">(Linked Thursday 2010-07-22.)</em></p></li>