Friday, June 16, 2006

Creating a culture of change

Delegate Saxman wrote earlier this week about the importance of creating a “culture of change” in state government. He’s right on target, saying that we can’t just talk about what’s wrong, we have to actively search for ways to improve the way government does business.

This means thinking outside the box, challenging the status quo and working for substantial, meaningful reforms. It means not settling for “business as usual” and instead aggressively pursuing dynamic solutions for the 21st century.

One of our core principles at Americans for Prosperity is that our prosperity and our freedom will best be ensured through free-market, limited government policies. We believe that American ingenuity and entrepreneurship are the driving forces behind out economy, not bigger, costlier and more intrusive government.

Simply adding more layers of bureaucracy, or turning over more and more of our hard-earned money to the government is not a solution. And doing things the same way we always have is not going to create a better system.

Ted Balaker over at the Reason Foundation points this out in the area of transportation in his recent commentary, "Government Solutions From the 1950s Won't Fix Today's Traffic Problems." He notes that "we cannot create the economy of tomorrow with an interstate transportation system that's stuck in the 1950s." Instead,

It's time to transform our transportation system from a drag on commerce to a facilitator of innovation. We must borrow good ideas, both homegrown and foreign.

He goes on to point out, as we've noted on this blog before, that "more than $25 billion in private capital has already emerged for U.S. road projects in just a few states — and there's much more where that came from."

Active pursuit of these types of innovative partnerships and other creative solutions will help to develop a real "culture of change" and ensure our continued prosperity.



  • In the 1800's government took over the raod network because privately funded tollroads exhibited many problems such as bankruptcy and price gouging.

    Today, some advacte for returning to that system when we already have a system for collecting fuel taxes to support the road system.

    Legislators have refused to increase those taxes because they are so unpopular. Instead the current plan is to let faceless foreign companies do the dirty work of increasing the cost of travel.

    It won't work.

    By Blogger Ray Hyde, at 6/16/2006 2:23 PM  

  • Ray,

    You're correct in noting that many of the earliest major roads in the United States were private toll roads—in fact, there were more than 2,000 private toll roads in operation in the 19th century. As the country moved westward the need for roads grew, and private turnpike companies responded to the needs of a growing country. They constructed essential highways that were operated as toll roads.

    It wasn't until 1956 that the Interstate system was created which began a massive public investment in infrastructure. That, more than anything, led to the decline of private road ownership in the US.

    Today, the vast majority of transportation projects around the country are still being funded from traditional sources, including State gas and vehicle taxes and federal highway trust fund appropriations. But State and local transportation agencies are increasingly looking to supplement these sources with private investment and PPPs are but one “tool in the tool box.”

    Regardless of ownership this country is rapidly moving toward an increased reliance on toll roads -- a recent survey from the Federal Highway Administration notes that 922 miles of new toll roads were opened or are under construction. An additional 1,989 miles are currently in the finance, design, or planning process. How many new 'free' miles are under development? By the way, the US DOT considers the Interstate system complete.

    You suggest that faceless foreign companies will increase the cost of travel. Do you drive on a congested highway? Is your time worth anything to you? How much would it be? If a company were to offer an alternative to get you where you need to be in half the time, would you be willing to pay for it? I would.

    Frankly its government's ineptness that has led to our transportation woes. Poltically popular items like transit and bike paths suck up an ever increasing portion of transportation funds - that has little or no impact on congestion.

    The answer to meeting future transportation needs and reducing congestion is the same answer we have for nearly every other product and service in America – unleashing the power and opportunity of our free market system.

    The same forces of competition, innovation, and customer-driven growth that we unleashed by deregulating the service businesses need to be applied to the underlying network itself. We have the world's greatest private sector and the world's most efficient capital markets. But neither is being sufficiently utilized to improve our massive national transportation system.

    We need to embrace the powers that took us from Ma Bell’s standard issue, black phone to cell phones and Blackberrys – harnessing that power can relieve congestion, reduce the need for road repairs, and improve the safety of our highways.

    Pricing as a model must also be a part of the solution. Americans are always willing to pay more for quality and convenience. Many workplaces offer free coffee, but employees, including me, still drop by Starbucks because Americans value quality.

    The Postal Service will deliver a First-Class letter for 37 cents, but businesses are willing to pay $15 for overnight service because they value the convenience and reliability that comes with an on-time delivery guarantee.

    When you think about it, highways are no different. Drivers will pay extra for quality and convenience on roads that meet Interstate standards.

    The time has come for us to acknowledge that building a highway network is no different than building a telecommunications network or a network for the delivery of electricity.

    There is no shortage of funds to invest in better highways. Global capital is already flowing. We’re at a crossroads – we can do things the old way or we can innovate and find a better way. We can choose to open its doors to this capital and a new way of doing business, or not. If not, other states will reap the benefits.

    Oh and by the way, its not just 'foreign' firms - the largest PPP in Texas was recently won by a Texan firm. Most of the major domestic investment banks have recently launched funds to compete and invest in US infrastructure.

    Last, it has worked...and will if we embrace it and not be scared of change or 'foreigners.'

    By Blogger gfsegal, at 6/18/2006 12:14 PM  

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