March 9, 1990
Re: SCA-1 (Prop. 111, the Gas Tax Measure)
You should present both sides of this issue. SCA-1 will actually not benefit drivers. Although it allocates 95% of the $15.5 it will collect for roads, widening roads simply allows more development and sprawl, which will quickly fill up the added capacity with more traffic. This benefits highway construction firms, developers, and the oil companies, but not the drivers who will have to pay for all this highway construction. They will soon find themselves stuck in even more congestion than before, breathing more smog and no better off.
A clue is given by the fact that Caltrans is going all out to promote this measure (illegally, I might add): it will mean more money and power for them.
The only way to get rid of congestion, permanently, is to reduce the need and desire to drive. Both would be satisfied by:
(1) making it harder to get and keep a driver's license (as in Europe and Japan): giving no free driving lessons in school, and revoking the licenses of our worst drivers;
(2) taxing auto purchases much more, to significantly reduce the number of cars on the road;
(3) taxing fuel, to reduce the amount that people drive; and
(4) eliminating free parking (which is not really free anyway, but which should be paid for by the user).
The money collected, of course, should go toward expanding public transit, to remove more drivers from the road. Such a system would automatically and humanely reduce traffic, congestion, air pollution, urban sprawl, etc. without the government having to control people's personal lives (e.g. telling them when they can drive). Everyone would make their own decisions. Such a system is already working in many countries around the world, and was also working in the U.S. before we gave in to the cult of the automobile.
Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.