Association of Monroe County Taxpayers
There are different kinds of taxpayer's organizations, all with different ideologies. But they all share a common concern: that of ensuring that the public's money is spent in the most beneficial, to the public, way. For years, the Association of Monroe County Taxpayers has followed the I-69 issue and, for years, we've tried to find the public benefit that justifies its enormous social, environmental, and dollar cost. As of today, we're still looking.
Road building is one of the two functions in which the public still places more confidence in government than the private sector (the other is War). Unfortunately, politicians and bureaucrats abuse that trust by elevating it to a mandate to build, build, and build, damn the torpedoes and damn the cost. Roads are to politicians what opium is to an addict, an end in and of itself, irrespective of the greater damage. We cannot expect politicians to take a balanced, rational view of this issue. They're hooked, glassy eyed, and looking for the next fix.
I-69 is like the proverbial vampire that won't die. First floated in the early 1970s, when Interstate highway construction was to terminate, it was rejected as unnecessary. It later re-emerged in the mid-1980s only to be dealt a blow by the Donohue study. Nevertheless, its boosters repackaged it from a "regional" solution, connecting the city of Evansville to Indianapolis, to a "national" solution as an integral spoke of the NAFTA system. A decade later, and hundreds of thousand jobs lost, NAFTA isn't such a good excuse anymore and we're back, in a great celebration of amnesia, to promoting it as a regional system.
One billion. Two billion. Four billion. Whatever the final cost and irrespective of how creatively the state funds it, it's real tax dollars that we're talking about in order to build yet another highway in one of our nation's most paved states. Indianapolis already has more interstate connections than any other city in the United States. Meanwhile, we've outsourced everything but the erection of suburban sprawl, we're losing jobs faster than nearly any other state, and we already have one of the most extensive interstate highway networks in the nation. What's the solution to all this? Build another highway? That's nuts. That's a failure of leadership. That's a squandering of taxpayer dollars.
At some point, adults have to re-learn the elementary concept of diminishing returns. As an article in last month's Fortune magazine pointed out, by the 1970s the interstate system helped sour American's idea of good government and their initial economic stimulus, as John Fernald of the Federal Reserve Bank noted, couldn't be repeated with further road building.
Low-wage nations aren't getting our jobs because of their excellent interstate highway systems, and building another road in a state that is already fourth in the nation for rural interstate highway miles won't make those jobs come back, nor will it provide an economic stimulus. At best it will foster a kind of economic musical chairs in which companies move from one location to another but build no new business.
But it will cost Hoosiers millions that Hoosiers no longer have.
The Association of Monroe County Taxpayers' Web Page is ...