As someone who often inveighs against the dysfunction Congress, I should tip my hat when they actually, you know…do stuff.
Yesterday, they managed to pass the transportation bill and the student loan extension. From the NYT:
The transportation legislation extends federal highway, rail and transit programs for 27 months, authorizing $120 billion in spending, financed by the existing 18.4 cents-a-gallon gasoline tax and the 24.4 cents-a-gallon diesel tax, as well as about $19 billion in transfers from the Treasury…The $6.7 billion student loan provision extends the current 3.4 percent interest rate on Stafford loans for one year, financed by changes in pension laws and a restriction on the length of time students could get those loans.
Good, necessary bills. But here’s the thing: Tea Party conservatives–who believe they were sent here to block pretty much everything–were unhappy with the bills, but bragged about the following:
Republicans boasted of streamlining environmental review processes for transportation programs and shifting resources away from highway beautification and pedestrian and bike paths.
I get the environmental part but “pedestrian and bike paths”??!! Tea Partiers don’t like a bike ride? A walk around town? I mean, after a while, don’t you wanna shut off Fox and go outside?
Maybe they view this as a “private market” responsibility, but I hope not, because private sources can’t be relied upon to provide such resources—they’re clearly public goods. Maybe they view it as a local responsibility. Or maybe it’s just knee-jerk opposition to anything that sounds suspicious—like taking walks and riding bikes!
People need to get away from the idea that walking and cycling are just play. Bike and pedestrian paths help to free up congested streets and highways and reduce pollution in urban areas. Of course, the Tea Party opposes those, too.
The Tea Partiers don’t ride bikes, and think you shouldn’t either.
Jared: Google “Agenda 21”.
Wow! I’d never heard of Agenda 21, let alone the conspiracy theories that are rampant. Scary that the old Birchers and Tea Partiers have joined in an anti-environmental jihad.
In the good old days gas tax receipts were supposed to be used for highway construction.
Want bike paths? Find some funding. Recreation for well off white people.
How does that explain why the irrationalizing against a new bike path — or a new mass transit connection — almost always includes people worrying about imaginary crime waves caused by hordes of “them” (read: people of color) riding into previously “peaceful” (read: mostly white) neighborhoods?
Living now in Switzerland after growing up in the US, it is striking how the cultures differ on this point. People here find highway/road beautification, pedestrian paths, and bike paths entirely appropriate uses of their tax money. And, in fact, a lot more is spent on these things. It makes the world we live in a much more pleasant place.
As a biyclist, I’m here to tell you that the Tea Party has a Thing about bicycling. They’re absolutely certain that it’s a UN plot to take away their precious bodily fluids, or some such. The commenter above mentioned “Agenda 21”.
Er, where do TPers live? Not in cities, by and large. Mostly they live in suburbs and drive SUVs, and essentially think that public policy should revolve around the priorities of SUV-driving suburbanites. Shifting spending away from the needs of motorists is, in their mind, yet another case of Big Government taking money from them to spend on the “wrong” people–which, after all, is the central obsession of the TP.
“I mean, after a while, don’t you wanna shut off Fox and go outside?”
The short answer is no, no they don’t.
More lengthily, it’s funny that these sorts of people are the first people to point and laugh at fat people, say it’s their fault that they’re obese and whine about having to do anything to solve the problems that stem from obesity. On the other hand, if the government does anything to reduce obesity rates, it’s the second coming of Stalin.
These are the people who talk about eating broccoli as if it were a form of torture. It’s no surprise that they think riding a bicycle is a Muslim/Socialist/Kenyan plot to take away We the People’s freedoms.
Liberals like bike paths. Therefore, bike paths must be vigorously opposed. QED.
Seriously, it’s just reflex now. The rest is simply (ir)rationalizing.
I agree with the commenters regarding Agenda 21. I work in environmental consulting, and bike paths are often attacked as part of a some larger liberal conspiracy to take away people’s property rights.
Please remember, ALL transportation is government-subsidized. Unless you are outside with your machete, traversing a path through the jungle, then government has been involved in creating the pathway–or access to the pathway–that you are using: plane, train, automobile, bicycle path, sidewalk, driveway, boat ramp…etc.
Fact is, without government subsidy, transportation is a money-losing industry.
But, don’t tell the Tea Party that.
Tea Party defines as Pork any government spending they don’t use and don’t like. The Tea Party drives Hummers and Gas Guzzlers. The Tea Party does not do bike commuting and thinks bikes should get off their roads. The Tea Party is all about punishing other people who do things (like ride bikes) that do not meet Tea Party approval. The Tea Party gets its enjoyment by inflicting pain and misery on others (They think it is for our own good).
>I get the environmental part but “pedestrian and bike paths”??!! Tea Partiers don’t like a bike ride? A walk around town? I mean, after a while, don’t you wanna shut off Fox and go outside?
A normal government job provides X utility. Should the government continue to fund jobs that provide only 0.8*X utility? What should be the lower limit?
I am a bicycle commuter in north Texas (NT). As more people move into the north Texas region, from other parts of the United States, the vehicular traffic jams are growing worse, and that means more air pollution. A great answer would be more alternative transportation options, such as bicycle commuting and buses.