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The progressive comic about the desctruction of the middle class.
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Road Wage

toll roadI have a theory why the Republican Party is reluctant to pass a bill that will spend the billions our country needs to repair its failing infrastructure, in the process putting millions of Americans back to work, and it's not just because of their usual spitefulness towards that nasty old negro in the White House.

(Side note: Now would be a GREAT time to borrow money to perform all this work as the effective credit rate would be as close to zero as you can get.)

I think the GOP wants to continue shoveling as many tax breaks at the rich as possible so that eventually there'll be nothing left in the government kitty for things like road and bridge repair. That's when private concerns, the financiers who've been sitting on trillions of dollars they've stuffed in their mattresses, will step up and say "Hey! We'll do it! We'll even pay you for the opportunity! Just sign here!"

At which point every thoroughfare in America instantly becomes a toll road. Forever.

That's sot of happened in my home city of Dallas, Texas. There's an east-west chunk of Loop 635 on the northern edge of the city, one we lovingly refer to as "The LBJ Freeway", that has become badly congested, and the usual answer to such problems was to just widen the road. So the powers-that-be put the taxpayer on the hook for over two billion dollars in bonds and taxes and then said "Hey! Let's build a toll road! And we'll sell the contract to [sound of giant Crony Wheel spinning, finally slowing to a stop] SPAIN!"

So now a Spanish company is going to control a vital chunk of local road for the next 50 years and, in the process, charging variable rates for traveling on it. Yes, I said "variable". It will soon cost between 10 and 75 cents per mile to drive on this thing, so I'm guessing some telepathy may be in order. This stretch of road is 17 miles long, so do the infuriating math.

BTW, this company even has a noncompete clause in its contract should someone else decide to build another tollroad nearby. It's literally their way or no highway.

In case you haven't figured it out these new tolls are, in effect, an additional tax on the consumer. (Republicans don't raise taxes but they'll certainly fee and toll your ass to death.) And who do we complain to if there's a problem with the road? Not a local bureaucrat but, presumably, some call-support guy in Barcelona. That ought to go well.

Will this section of LBJ ever become a free road again? Certainly not in my lifetime. The Dallas/Fort Worth Turnpike began as a toll road in the 50s but paid off its debt and was declared a free road in 1997. Meanwhile the North Dallas Toll Road, started in 1968, and having learned its lesson from the Turnpike has added several additions over the years, continuing to charge for every stinking mile. They'll probably keep adding new sections until they reach Canada, just to keep the tolls rolling in. (Incidentally, the old Turnpike has been widened considerably over the years but not the Toll Road.)

The interesting thing is the way they dun you for usage of the toll roads, if you lack a toll tag, is for a reader to scan your licence plate and then they mail you the bill. Now just imagine how hard it would be for the supposed new owners of our roads to stick one of these scanners on every local street. (FYI, Dallas probably has more red light cameras per mile of road than any other city in the U.S. The government down here isn't shy about employing such toys if it means enhancing the revenue stream.)

This sounds terrible but I console myself by imagining how much fun it will be to bash the scanners into scrap with a baseball bat on a moonless night.


Speaking of the middle class. (Click for embiggening.)

middle class chart


end rant

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There, there.

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