Friday, September 5, 2014

Of roads and redistribution

The major political issue in my town right now is streets.  Specifically, the city council wants to get the town off the treadmill of continual street resurfacing by investing in higher quality streets that will last a generation or more.  Naturally, this will require spending money, and consequently the local conservatives are losing their minds.

One of them wrote a letter to the editor of the local community weekly.  "What if I sell my house after 10 years, when we've just paid to put down 30-year streets?  What if I sell my house after 5 years, before they even put the new streets in front of it?  I'll have paid for something that I didn't benefit from!"

I just wanted to grab this guy by the lapels and get all Samuel L. Jackson on him:  "WAS THERE A STREET IN FRONT OF YOUR HOUSE WHEN YOU BOUGHT IT, MOTHERF**KER?"  Yes, there was.  The previous owner paid for that street, and they didn't take it with them when they left.  That's what it means to be an adult in a civilized society.  You benefit from things that other people paid for and, at the same time, you pay for things that other people benefit from.  Over time, it pretty much balances out, even if the way it does so isn't obvious at first glance.  For example, even if you don't have kids, you still benefit from paying for schools because it decreases the average ignorance of the people around you.  (Which I think we all agree is a Good Thing.)

With apologies to the people of New Hampshire, I sometimes wish the Free State Project would succeed, so that the rest of us wouldn't have to deal with these "rugged individualists," we could just send them to Coventry if they haven't gone already.