There was a great article in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday about cash-strapped counties letting their rural roads decay from pavement to gravel, since gravel is much cheaper to maintain. It seems telling and appropriate that we are going back to 1940’s road conditions, since we’ve spent the six decades since then overspending, undersaving and generally acting like idiots.
Several of the counties mentioned in the article have put the gravel decision up for a vote, with ballot measures that give citizens the opportunity to choose higher taxes and pavement or lower taxes and gravel. I dig that: let the people decide. But of course, this being America, some people want it both ways.
“Judy Graves of Ypsilanti, N.D., voted against the measure to raise taxes for roads. But she says she and others nonetheless wrote to Gov. John Hoeven and asked him to stop Old 10 from being ground up because it still carries traffic to a Cargill Inc. malting plant.”
So Judy doesn’t want to pay taxes to cover the cost of the road, but she wants the road paved anyway. OK people, let me explain some basic math to you. If you don’t pay taxes, you don’t get services. It’s that simple. If you don’t pay the cashier at Safeway, you don’t get to take your groceries. If you don’t pay at Home Depot, you’re not able to walk out with paint and brushes. Why should government be any different? If you don’t pay for it, you’re not going to get it.
Serious libertarians know this. Their approach is that government shouldn’t provide most services. Cool. I don’t agree, but I get it. Unfortunately, the common approach in our society is more Judy Graves and less libertarian, calling for lower taxes but more services. Less money in, more money out. This is unsustainable, and it’s why Judy and her Ypsilanti neighbors are going to be driving on gravel instead of asphalt.