“You Need Big Government! We Need ROADS!”

One of the biggest complaints against libertarians is “Well you have to have ROADS don’t you?!?”.

Of course you do. Roads is one of the valid functions of government. The problem is only a teeny tiny faction of your tax dollars actually go to roads. So when you scream about “ROADS!”, you really haven’t checked the numbers.

According to Obama’s 2014 budget, you might be quite shocked at how little of your tax dollars actually go to things government should be doing, like roads.

Of every dollar the federal government collects in taxes, only 4.1 cents goes to “transportation”, i.e. roads. A whopping 57.78 cents go to entitlements like welfare, social security, and medicare. 17.1 cents go to the military. 6 cents go to interest on the debt.

If the government was pending 50 cents per dollar or more on roads, this would be a very different conversation. But it’s only spending 4 cents out of every dollar on these things.

“Well, that’s the federal government, and you really can’t use them as an example. Roads are really more of a state and local government thing.”

Okay. The state of California’s budget shows that only 7% of their entire budget goes towards roads. The city of New York’s budget shows that only 2%(!) of their budget goes to roads, and that 2% is shared with “housing”.

So whenever someone wrings their hands about “you-have-to-have-government-cuz-we-need-roads!”, it makes me laugh. We could slash government spending by literally 90% in many cases, and as long as you didn’t touch the transportation budget, we’d still have all the roads we needed.

“Well, that’s the problem! We need more government spending on transportation and infrastructure!” 

Hey, I actually agree with you. In many cases that is needed. But as you can see above, we don’t need to raise taxes one penny or borrow one more penny to do this. Just cut back, even a little, on the other crap government wastes its money on and raise the transportation budget.

The problem is people who scream about more spending on “infrastructure” never talk about what they would CUT in order to do this. Hmmm…


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1 Comment
  • How Taxes Would Work in a Free Society - Caleb Jones
    Posted at 05:18 am, 2nd April 2015

    […] taxes, property taxes, or corporate taxes whatsoever. How does the government get its money then? We need roads don’t we? Well, fortunately there are other kinds of taxes besides income and property that […]

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