Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Where "crises" are made

We are all taught that trust is hard to gain and easy to squander. So it is with credibility. We all know the liar who has to keep inventing new lies to cover the previous ones.

"Trust funds" attached to government programs have become anything but. It is by now well known that the Social Security Trust Fund has been raided by Congress. (Poor Al Gore was ridiculed in 2000 for his "lock box" talk.)

Perhaps less well known is the state of the Highway Trust Fund. Here is a recent analysis by Ron Utt. Here is a punch-line:
The largest diversion from the $52.7 billion in total spending authorized for fiscal year 2009 from the highway trust fund (including $2.0 billion in general revenues) is the $10.3 billion in direct spending for transit programs (trolleys, buses, commuter rail, etc). Transit riders are also the greatest beneficiary of the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program, which absorbs $1.8 billion of the trust fund. Although transit riders account for only 1.8 percent of surface travel passengers and 5 percent of commuters, they receive a subsidy from the fuel-tax-paying motorists amounting to approximately 20 percent of transportation spending.

We got potholed highways and underutilized public transit. Here is more on the state of the highways from a recent Reason report.

The nation's "infrastructure crisis" was made guess where?