Nobody in Michigan would argue that we don’t need to take drastic measures to fix our crumbling roads. In some places, gravel roads would be an improvement over what the roads look like right now. One proposal being floated is to change the gas tax from a flat 19 cents per gallon to a percentage of the wholesale cost. This Republican proposal would allow more revenue to be collected when gas prices rise. The proposal, HB 5477, is expected to raise a little over $800 million in 2013-2014 fiscal year.
The Koch brothers are having none of it. In a letter to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, AFP-Michigan state director Scott Hagerstrom makes it clear that any tax increase to solve a problem that is rapidly making Michigan the laughing stock of the USA is off the table. AFP (Americans for Prosperity) is a front group for the Koch brothers and spends enormous amounts of money on lobbying for corporations and on electing pro-business, corporatist Republican state legislators. It’s an investment in their future profits. All of that sweet, sweet Koch money makes their speech considerably louder than the rest of us mere mortals.
So what is the Koch brothers’ solution to raising the $1.2 billion Gov. Snyder says is needed? Free-market reforms, of course.
Prioritizing spending, embracing free-market reforms and dedicating sales tax revenue to roads are taxpayer-friendly solutions for fixing Michigan’s roads.
Ironically, “free market reforms” typically involve LESS tax revenue. It’s not like the “free market” is going to fix our roads for us. And neither are our corporations. As even libertarian social scientist Kevin A. Carson wrote in 2008, “If the corporate representatives in government are proposing a particular “free market reform,” you can bet your bottom dollar it’s because they believe it will increase the net political extraction of wealth.”
“Prioritizing spending” and redirecting the sales tax revenue stream to road repair takes away from other critical things that money is spent on.
All of these things are simply catch phrases and code words for the Koch brothers’ ultimate goal: less money spent on providing government services to make government look ineffective and to encourage more privatization. That helps fill their bank accounts with our taxes, the holy grail for corporatists like them.
They want all of the benefits of a democratic society and none of the responsiblities for making it work. It’s truly un-American.
All that remains to be seen is whether or not we’ll let them get away with it.
Photo by Chris Savage | Eclectablog.