Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tennessee legislature should "just say no" to toll roads

Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, Tennessee
Tennessee Capitol building - Image via Wikipedia
On February 16, 2010, ran a story titled "Lawmakers, TDOT Look at Adding Toll Lanes". Apparently, the state of Tennessee is considering changing the HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes on I-24 from Nashville to Murfreesboro and I-65 from Nashville to south of Franklin into HOT lanes a.k.a. toll lanes. The article says that the toll would vary depending on the time of day and that the average toll in other U.S. cities with HOT lanes during rush hour is $1.70.

If that is $1.70 each way, it works out to approximately $3.40 a day, $68 ($3.40 X 20 working days) per month, or $816 extra out of pocket per year for someone commuting back and forth to work. The goal is too encourage carpooling because carpoolers get to drive in the HOT lanes for free. This latest proposal by the Tennessee legislature to "nudge" Tennesseans into carpooling would make Cass Sunstein, Obama's Regulatory Czar, proud. In his book, Nudge, he states that if government cannot get the citizenry to do what it wants, they should not force it upon the citizens but rather "nudge" them in the "proper" direction. Why ?? Well, because the government knows best, of course.

With the current state of the economy, why would the Tennessee legislature even consider what amounts to an additional "employment" tax (people have to pay it to get to work) on working families ?? Many of them are doing well to keep their heads above water now. They can't afford to pay out what amounts to a weeks worth of groceries or two extra tanks of gas just to get to work each month. Plus, Tennesseans have already paid for the roads considered for these HOT lanes once. These tolls amount to double taxation.

The Tennessee legislature should drop their consideration of these toll roads immediately for four reasons :
  1. Economics 101 teaches that tax increases stifle growth during a recession, and that's what these "tolls" amount to.
  2. Tennessee's working families can't afford it.
  3. Democrats love tax increases. Does the Republican-controlled Tennessee legislature want the same label ??
  4. Do I need to remind Tennessee's legislators that 2010 is an election year, and the Tea Partiers are already chanting "throw all the bums out." Do they really want to give them another reason ??  
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