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Thursday, June 02, 2005

Are the Highways Worth It?

I picked up a variety-style newsletter today. It has a lengthy article about Highway 66, more famously known as Route 66. The article is mostly about what still exists along this dilapidated stretch of blacktop. I can tell you, not very much.

In a heated discussion with somebody brave enough to take me on, it was suggested that without taxes, there would be no roads to drive on. This of course is complete sophistry. That said, I wondered if we are better off having an interstate highway system or not.

Route 66 opened up the U.S. to large numbers of people; would the country be better off if it hadn't? This might be an interesting subject for you environmentalists. There is little doubt that the environment would be much better off if the internal combustion engine had not been invented. What about the spreading of this technological marvel to all four corners of the country? Suppose the West were still wild country where only the hardest humans dared to tread?

I think it would be great. Hey! I have an idea! Instead of spending billions of dollars on road projects every year, let's just spend a few hundred million. Some of the money would be on an ad campaign telling people west of the Continental Divide that if they want to stay, it is up to them. The rest of the money would be spend destroying all of the roads.

Then came the Interstates and Route 66 died.

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