Brilliant! Let's Improve Safety By Reducing Highway Funding!

Editorial written by James Baughn on Tuesday, October 10, 2000

from the welcome-to-the-captive-states-of-america dept.

"The federal government takes your money in gas taxes, and it's your money. It shouldn't be conditioned on other things."
   -- Michelle Davis, aide for House GOP leader Dick Armey

WASHINGTON -- It's been said that "no man's life, liberty or property is safe while Congress is in session". The same could be said for state governments, which will see a reduction in Federal highway funding if they don't adopt tougher drunk-driving laws in the coming years.

Does lowering the legal alcohol limit from 0.10 to 0.08 really reduce drunk-driving fatalities? The evidence isn't clear. But one doesn't need to see a lot of evidence to know that reducing highway funding will only cause roads to crumble even more, putting lives at risk.

So then states, such as Missouri, are faced with a though choice: enact legislation that may or may not improve safety... or do nothing and watch as safety decreases at the hands of a power-mad Congress.

"Power-mad" is the key word. Congress -- and a highly supportive President Bill "Constitution? What Constitution?" Clinton -- don't seem to have any reservations against trampling over the soveriegnty of state governments. One wonders why we even have states these days, considering that the US Congress seems to be in control of most everything.

Remember Henry Ford's statement about the Model T? They were available in any color -- as long as that color was black. The same type of situation is unfolding here. State governments can set the legal limit at any level they want -- as long as that limit is 0.08.

So much for state sovereignty and Federalism. The states collect the gas taxes that go into the Federal government's coffers -- but the Federal government can see fit to dole out that money back to the states in any way they want, no matter how unfair, unjust, and outright undemocratic.

I'll know who to blame in ten years when Missouri's (and other states') highways are going to pot (potholes, that is). I'll know who to blame when dangerous intersections and curves aren't replaced due to lack of funding. I'll know who to blame when a bridge or overpass collapses.

I won't be blaming the Missouri legislators who refused to enact tougher, Federal-friendly DWI laws. I'll be blaming the Federal bureaucRATS and politicians that forced this issue in the first place -- and made a political game and power-grab out of safety.