Paying for Infrastructure: A Modest Proposal

Paying for Infrastructure: A Modest Proposal

I recently sat through a House hearing in which members of Congress spoke at length about the need to come up with “creative” ideas to fund highway infrastructure. Creative what? Raise the gas tax? Congestion pricing? Toll lanes? Oh, pu-l-eeze!

This is America. If we put a man on the moon, surely we can don our thinking caps and dream up solutions that make the vehicle mileage tax as boring as oatmeal. Here are my modest proposals.

The Traffic Cam Ambush. Talk about congestion pricing — during rush hours, position cameras to capture random license plates of vehicles stuck in traffic. Then hit the target drivers with a $100 fine. It won’t take long for people to figure out that leaving early or staying late is the best way to avoid being dunned. Congestion solved. Critics would whine that this isn’t spreading the cost burden equally among all highway users, but hey – who said life is fair?

The Drive-thru Tax. The most viable source of revenue might be literally on every corner. Fast food places are the creature of the car culture, so why shouldn’t we add 25 cents to the price of every bag of burgers and fries that passes through the window of a customer’s car? If that doesn’t generate enough revenue, we could extend the idea to drivers who stop at convenience stores, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts.

The Under Secretary of Silly Cargo. Monty Python invented the Ministry of Silly Walks, so why not? Establish a DOT office to evaluate the social benefit of everything that moves by truck. Tax freight on a sliding scale based upon its importance to the safety, health and welfare of the American public. Fresh salad greens would be assessed the lowest tax rate, shipments bound for Archie McPhee would be taxed to the max. It wouldn’t take long for shippers to figure out shipping useless stuff doesn’t pay. Congestion would be history, and as side benefit, landfills wouldn’t fill up so quickly with the junk we toss out.

If you have other ideas, post them here. This is my 25 cents' worth. I pay it every Saturday morning when I drive thru McDonald’s or Burger King.