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The Case Against Government Constructed Roads (Domestic Policy Essay, Fall 2013, PoliSci 102)

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As you were driving down the freeway to work, you ran over that same rough spot every morning to get off at your exit. Today is different; one of your tires had enough and blew out on you. As you are accepting the situation you are in, your mind starts to wander: “If only the roads were better constructed, that would solve part of the problem.” You pull over, get out and get your emergency gear, “I wonder who paid for this freeway anyway…” It hadn’t occurred to you at the time that part of the pay check you were making at the job you were driving to went to the very same road that partly caused your bad morning. You paid for it by being taxed. The solution to the degeneration of our roadways is the privatization of the funding of roads. The privatization of roads will provide more efficiency for the main source of transportation in America.

As it stands right now, the construction of roads is based on city, county, and state needs. The funding comes from the state budget which is paid for by American tax payers. During the emergence of the affordability of the automobile, in the 1920’s, America started to need national freeways which the Department of Agriculture took over. This was with the help of the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) which was created in 1924 to help the advancement of investors in the national freeway business to get these freeways built. The Great American Freeway System was eventually established by channels through the Department of Agriculture and the corporations that were supplying the materials and labor.

During this time, the average citizen was not particularly concerned with the freeways because their $250.00 car often times could not make it across country with the way they were built. The roads were often so horrible that you could barely drive on them as they were, and were rarely routinely maintained. Businesses should have invested in a consulting/planning department for their corporations. This would make it so the federal government would not have had to pass laws to regulate the freeway construction, planning (to include safety and directional signs) and maintenance of the freeways. Essentially, what the government has over the road infrastructure is a monopoly because of this. The corporations should have been held accountable by the consumer to maintain the roads that were being built, they would not have had to deal with the inconvenience of government planning, thus relieving the need for tax payers’ money to be used on public transportation. The government even got in the way during the 2011-2012 Holiday season in Los Angeles when Governor Jerry Brown needed to use his legislative powers to waive statutes of the law that were hindering the rebuilding process of an overpass that was damaged when a tanker truck exploded. This is just one example of how regulatory laws hinder the maintenance, and an example of why it is hard for the freeway system to technologically advance.

During modern times, people rely on their cars just as much as our ancestors valued their horses. The roads we drive on are how we get to work, drop off our kids at school, and see our family and friends. We rely on their advancement and success. One modern example of the success of the privatization of roads is The Toll Roads of Orange County. They were built during a time that the state budget was low and with virtually no tax dollars available. This proves that the state has the ability to coordinate roads being built without tax payer burden.

The state proved to be unessential in the creation of the California SR-73, and even though the state still provided the central planning and induced a toll on the road, it is one of the first steps into getting the government funding out of the construction of our beloved freeways. This type of privatization allows for investors and entrepreneurs to explore and test the way freeways are designed. We may even realize that we do not need freeways at all, and the exploration of the design of freeways could lead to the implementation of more efficient transportation systems via the consumer. The consumer funds the projects and gets the results. The key to freeway technological advancement is to eliminate the government third-party control to speed up the construction and induce routine, efficient, maintenance that caters to the consumers who use it.  This would mean, however, that the average citizen would have to be more involved in his or her local and state community if they wanted something done, which would not be such a bad thing. It would stop the media from skewing the public’s perception on the role the government has with our freeways.

The American media does not usually touch on this subject unless it has to do with a tax increase. CNN, Fox, and MSNBC often rally behind the government inclusion in the construction of our roads to make it “safer.” In fact, if you typed “roads taxes” into Google News, you will find that the majority of the articles that were written about roads and taxes were about tax increases, and sometimes hiding them as tolls. Tolls would be a great idea if the budget for the transportation was not in the “infinite” amount of money the government has to spend. If a toll was a way to make a profit and it benefitted the consumer because the road was more efficient due to better maintenance and technology advancement, then a toll would be a good idea, especially if there were other private roads competing to bring the price down. Some young people are starting to understand this concept in depth and standing up against the old-timer status quo. The younger the American is, the more skeptical he or she normally is of government endeavors such as our roads. This will lead to future policy changes, and hopefully take this government monopoly out of American culture.

The bigger picture of this issue is the amount of control our government has over the roads we use every day. The construction business could just as easily be a service like an electrical business. We are constantly plagued by inconvenience during our travels, whether it is a construction job moving slowly or a pot hole that has been there for over a year. The government has had control over the roads and freeways for far longer than most of us have been alive. The people who advocate government control over roads tend to think that no one else is capable of planning out road routes because the government has always been in control. Despite the fact that politicians constantly use the roads as a facade to raise taxes, people never question when their governments are engaging in these things because they believe it is a part of public works. Perhaps it is time for a new age of technological growth where the government takes a step back, and cuts transportation funding out of the budget.

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Domestic Terrorist or Political Activist – What’s the Difference? (Essay 2008, Genetically Stupid Magazine, The Stay Press Vol. 1, 16 years old)

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The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act (S.1959) is a widely unknown bill presented by Congress in early 2007. It is an abomination of our most precious right of them all: our right to freedom of speech. If you want your right to preach your beloved anarchy, socialism, communism, fascism or even just taking out the public officials and restoring our Republic, then it is strongly suggested that you look over this information at hand. Our liberties are at risk.

Violent Radicalization can be taken in many different ways, it seems that this bill is directed towards groups like the IRA, the neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan, but if you read the description carefully, it does not describe specifically what kind of “groups or individuals” they are talking about.

“The term ‘violent radicalization’ means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence [the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual’s political, religious, or social beliefs] to advance political, religious, or social change” – SEC. 899A. 15-19

It is understood that there is a problem with extremists going around having their way with people they hate because of their affiliation to extremist groups but then let’s think about the other morally good “extremist” groups such as Skinheads Against Racial Prejudices (SHARP), or Restore The Republic (RTR), the animal activists, the green activists, or even the Ron Paul Revolutionists. They will be persecuted once this law goes into effect.

Then you may wonder about how they’re going to persecute any political activists or writers like me. Not to worry, they have it covered in SEC. 899A. 20-22, and they call it Homegrown Terrorism.

“The term ‘homegrown terrorism’ means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

The problem here is the question of what is and is not “force.” One alarming dictionary definition is the “power to persuade.” Writing about the good of our country, protesting for the good of OUR country means we are a terrorist in the eyes of the government, and the worst part about it is that they are smart enough to know that since most of the US population either doesn’t know about this act or doesn’t care about it that they have all of the power. They know that people are too interested about what’s going on in American Idol, what the latest fashion is, or where the latest band is going rather than caring about their safety, their safety from their own government.

It seems now-a-days that everyone is a terrorist and that terrorists are everywhere but they never really say as to where they are getting these precautions from. They never say where they get their information from. Where are these terrorists they keep on talking about? Are they thieves? Are they drug fiends? What are they? We do not have anyone with bombs around their chests going into buildings and blowing them up. We do not have random militias set up around the United States to kill innocent civilians. That also raises another question… How come the “proles” of the United States do not question this?

Things keep on getting worse in this country. What happened to the America I grew up in? What happened to the American Dream that my hero Hunter S. Thompson once wrote about? It is being destroyed and the nation does not know it. Soon we will have to get Real ID cards, or “Enhanced Driver’s Licenses,” “Secure Social Security Cards,” and if we don’t, we will lose our right to travel or enter government facilities until we do. Our veterans are being labeled as terrorists… And a whole mess of other things I cannot begin to cover.

“We are turning into a nation of whimpering slaves to Fear — fear of war, fear of poverty, fear of random terrorism, fear of getting down-sized or fired because of the plunging economy, fear of getting evicted for bad debts, or suddenly getting locked up in a military detention camp on vague charges of being a Terrorist sympathizer.”- Hunter S. Thompson

Cassandra Kerkman

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