I’ve read and re-read the April 23, 2012 Post-Dispatch lead article, “I-70 toll proposal hits Senate roadblock,” but I can’t find a single occurrence of the word “taxes.”
The article focuses on a bill in the Missouri Senate that would have authorized tolls as part of a public-private partnership to rebuild a 200-mile stretch of I-70 across the middle of the state. The proposal, it appears, is dead for 2012—killed by the trucking industry, gas station owners, and operators of convenience stores. [I don't blame them, by the way. But that's another post.]
The problem is that just about everyone—even the proposal’s strongest opponents—agree that something needs to be done to keep Missouri’s highway infrastructure up to par. But everyone dances around the real solution: increasing state revenue by taxing everyone a little bit more, perhaps, even via a higher tax on every gallon of gas.
But no one even utters the word “tax.” Not even the press. Here are some examples, from the P-D article:
…something needs to be done to shore up funding for Missouri’s transportation needs, and [he] predicted that a solution will emerge in the upcoming years.
Something. Not taxes. Just something, plus a solution that dare not speak its name.
This summer and fall, Missouri lawmakers will convene interim hearings on transportation needs and funding.
Could “funding” mean taxes? In reality, it probably should. But you can’t say that in America today.
One goal…is to increase public awareness of the transportation funding need and ways to pay for them.
What might those “ways to pay for them” be, I wonder? Certainly, not increased taxes, right?
Without a new funding source…the state will not be able to reconstruct I-70—a project that many believe is needed.
A new funding source? I guess that means that the old funding source—taxes that everyone chips in to—is not on the table. Whatever happened to everyone pitching in their fair share, for the general public good? We all use the roads and derive economic and social benefits from them.
I find the absence of the “t” word very disturbing. Our political dialogue has been hijacked by anti-tax conservatives. We live in a tax-free-discussion zone, and the media—as exemplified by this P-D article—are complicit, un-indicted co-conspirators.
I suspect that every politician in America—including the anti-tax ideologues—knows that he or she—and the lobbyists they work for—benefit every day from the services that are funded by taxes, and that they all know that, in the end, fair taxation is essential to maintaining the quality of American life that they hold so dear. [Even St. Ronald Reagan raised taxes.] But until we all get real about these conversations—and until the media stops parroting conservative anti-tax themes—we’re going nowhere fast.