Liberals Love Roads and Firemen (at least in tough economic times)

I love it when our friends on the left feel threatened (now is one of those times). In flush economic times, our friends on the left support massive spending for the Rail Runner, Spaceport, and unlimited expansion and zero accountability for wasteful and incompetent programs like K-12 education, film subsidies, and Medicaid. When the economy turns south and fiscal conservatives like the Rio Grande Foundation (and elected officials) start looking for cuts, suddenly it would appear that all government does is provide roads and fire departments.

For a little detail on this, check out our recent opinion piece and the response from Gerry Bradley of Voices for Children. Bradley and his allies on the left seem to think that we at the Rio Grande Foundation simply hate government and want to abolish roads and fire departments. This is simply not the case and, if government limited itself to “the basics,” we’d be the happiest people around.

Unfortunately, government does way too much and diverts resources away from the basics. As you can see from this document, roads and highways form a small fraction of the state’s budget.

Bradley also fails to see that in the absence of a government role, the private sector would probably provide infrastructure that is far more focused and well-maintained than what the government provides. In Europe, for example, where gas taxes and gas prices are much higher than they are here — and are not dedicated to roads — toll roads are the norm.

The fact is that our society (both New Mexico and nationally) is simply not able to pay the bills for government at the size it is now. Cuts are needed. Ideally, politicians will cut the fat and leave the bones and core functions of government intact.