The liberals are always quick to point out that the we have public roads and that it is the "government's greatest achievement." Since I'm in the road business and they basically feed me or starve me, I've become a little educated on the topic. The public highway system and the local systems of roads are far from being products of government's ingenious ingenuity and foresight. Here's why.
Eisenhower was first inspired to create a system of highways by his inclusion in a convoy across America on the PRIVATELY BUILT Lincoln Highway. He was in the Army and the Army was trying to prove a point about getting across the continent. The Lincoln Highway carried goods along a road made for what it could handle - light commercial traffic. People didn't go for drives for the hell of it back then. Vehicles had purposes that didn't include screwing around on a Sunday afternoon back in the old days. This was the year 1919, mind you.
Meanwhile the private railroad industry was the biggest money maker of them all and the best way to travel anywhere whether you were a a piece of coal or the President of the United States. Our first national transportation system had not a single finger print from the government. It was an achievement of private industry alone.
Eisenhower was somewhat influenced by the German's autobahn system, but it was not the sole catalyst for his dream of an inter-state system. His experience with the autobahn only reinforced the military man's need to have a system other than railroads to move his troops around the country.
World War II had pretty much shown the railroad to be an obsolete method of moving troops and equipment during war time. Unlike cars and trucks, trains need a rail to move. If anything happens to that rail, it takes a long time to repair it. An entire army could be stopped dead in its tracks by one well place piece of dynamite. Eisenhower wasn't about to let this happen to his army once he became commander-in-chief.
Now we all know that the president has to go to congress to get these things done. Initially congress didn't want to spend the money. The ask was for $25 billion dollars. That was a lot of money back then and still is today.
Congress also had another problem - they really didn't know how they were going to legally tell states they had to do this. After all, if Texas refused to comply, Louisiana and New Mexico would be screwed. So they needed to make sure everyone complied. That's when they figured out that the real opportunity lay within the ability to tax the users of these roads. The term "interstate commerce" was tossed on the table along with a copy of the constitution with Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 underlined with pretty little stars scribbled next to it (commerce clause). Of course the "Necessary and Proper Clause" was placed nicely in the pile just in case there was any question as to if they really had the power to pull this off. Long story short they ended up finding not only the authority to do what they did, but it allowed them a new way to squeeze local and state governments into doing what the federal government wanted them to do. Just look at seat-belt and open container laws.
Congress had long been taxing the railroad because of the nature of their business. Being able to tax the users of yet another transportation system only seemed natural. The fact that they could tax every single good that moved from state to state gave them all big smiles as they wrote the rules for the bill.
This is where things got a little tough for them. After passing the bill and putting it out there for execution, they ran into a problem. No one in the government knew how to design a road, much less a nationwide system of roads. The only roads that existed in 1956 that resembled highways were private endeavors that were tolled. This also had them asking another question - would anyone use their new roads if they were used to using the existing ones? Oops... Now they had to find a way to steal the existing roads from the existing owners in order to incorporate them into their system. While they were at it, they demanded to know who designed these privately owned roads.
Of course, it was the private engineering industry that came to the rescue. Our system wasn't designed by some bureaucrat in a dark office in Washington. The system was designed by the private sector. The land was stolen using the great minds of private real estate attorneys.
The roads were then built by the private sector as well. The government would have had to triple in size overnight to be able to construct the massive system of highways. The private sector was more than ready for the task.
After the roads were built the states started complaining almost immediately. Maintenance was proving to be a function of their duty they couldn't plan for, carry out or pay for. The federal government increased taxes and the state government hired private engineers and contractors to put them on a maintenance schedule and provide crews to carry out the maintenance. The government became a middle man between the users who paid the taxes and the private companies that actually ran the highway system.
The entire program has run at a deficit from day one. The federal government has dumped more and more of the burden of funding on the states while increasing their take of the taxes at the federal level. The states have in turn had to start collecting new taxes to maintain the roads. And in the past 20 years the states have started putting the burden on the counties and the counties down to the cities! It's as if nobody wants the dying baby.
This bring us to a movement that is growing in all 50 states. Every state in the union has some faction of legislators who want to sell the interstate highway system and the rest of the roads to private business. Their argument is that our road system is almost entirely reliant on private input for survival. The paper pushers who work for the state are simply passing out money to the private entities who maintain and build or highway system. Well, they also impede progress. The reason projects take years to build is because the government can't get off of its ass (more on that later).
The rise of private toll-roads and their success has everybody wondering - "can they do better?" The answer is yes. The answer lies within the private sector. Privately owned roads have shown to be way ahead of the curve when expansion is need unlike roads owned by the government that are reliant on a plethora of government bureaucrats fighting over the money for improvements. They are simply more convenient and cost the taxpayer less.
The only reason the highway system has limped along so far is because the private sector has propped it up. Using it as an example of how the government does something well is laughable for those of us who know better.
And our federal highway system is in no way "socialistic." To say so is to have no idea what socialism is.
The creation of a passenger rail system from Chihuahua to Denver is another guaranteed government failure to be subsidized by the private individual and the private industry. Citing the national highway system as the model for this rail line is like citing Michael Vick's record with dogs as a model for all pet owners.
Want to talk about the Hoover damn next? How about the difference between federal regulated and federal run? The FDA? I've got all the answers to your liberal propaganda.
Don't bring your mindless liberal bullshit talking point sand revisionist history in here, you'll get your hand slapped every single time.