Government is Largely Unnecessary, and Here’s Why.

Today’s blog was brought to you by the acronym FHWA. That’s right, you acronym-savvy readers, you. The Federal Highway Administration. Not to be confused with FHA, the Federal Housing Administration. Don’t mix those two up; you’d have the highway experts giving loans and the government bankers building your highways. I digress.

The development firm for whom my father is currently as a consultant acting (I know it sounds funny, but I swear it’s grammatically correct) needs a bit of frontage road built off of I-30 (sounds better, but is grammatically incorrect). He was explaining the process through which he went to get the plans approved. Boiled down, he had to submit plans to TxDOT, who approved the plans, and then to the FHWA, who also approved them. Being particularly observant, I remarked that the process is rather redundant and took the “abolish the FHWA” position in the debate that ensued. My brother jumped in on the other side and we got down to business.

I argued that the individual state DOTs should work together to connect interstate highways when those situations arose. The federal government does not need an entire Administration-with-a-capital-a whose job is to make the states play nicely. Sure, the interstates are “federal” highways, but that’s easily solved by transferring ownership to the states. All of the money that the federal government spends on upkeep and new construction can be routed to the states and voilà! we’ve reduced the size of the government.

In the other corner, the 5′ 8″ challenger throws out an example in which he believes the Feds are simply essential. New Mexico wants to build a highway in the South that connects to Houston. Texas doesn’t see the need for that particular stretch of road and refuses to committ the manpower and resources necessary to complete its stretch of said highway. This is where the FHWA comes in handy, he says.

Naturally, I respond with a free-market solution. Texas knows that New Mexico feels that this highway is essential. So Texas demands that New Mexico pay the salaries of the workers and 30 percent of the construction costs so that the road gets finished. No Feds necessary. Either New Mexico accepts the deal and gets its road, it negotiates another deal or it walks away from the table, having realized that the road isn’t quite as important as it thought it was.

That shut him up real quick-like. But don’t blame the boy, he hasn’t yet taken economics. Of course, I wished to argue that private companies ought to be able to build highways in the state, since TxDOT currently has a monopoly on state highway construction. Needless to say, my brother wasn’t interested.

I have more to say on this subject, but this post is getting long, so I’ll follow this up with a sequel later. The anticipation is killing you, I’m sure. I have faith that you’ll manage to hold on until then.

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