Tuesday, October 06, 2009

the open road?

i don't think socialism is an entirely bad thing.

i know saying this probably hurts my ability to run for office (in the US) several years from now (whilst i have yet to see the new Michael Moore film, i AM a fan of free markets as well - "smashing, groovy, yay capitalism!").

but i digress. back to my premise.

(some) socialism is OK. libraries are socialist. and they're GREAT parts of the community. libraries are where i fostered my love of reading (and art). my mom would walk/drive me to the library on a Saturday, and i would end up taking home a large pile of books i could pour over during the week, without breaking the budget of a (relatively) new-to-America immigrant family. and over the years, Dr.Seuss and Shel Silverstein soon gave way to Bill Waterson, Jack Kirby, Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Marvel's first family.

in college, the library was one of the few places i could get ANY work done. when i was in school, there was no such distracting things as "wi-fi" in the library (sigh, i'm dating myself), and they kept it far too cold to doze off.

and as a working adult, one of the first things i do after moving somewhere new, whether it be Cincinnati, Singapore, or New York, is find out how to join the local library (preferably walking/biking distance). sure, this is mostly so i can curb the affect my almost drug-like comic book habit has on my wallet (probably another thing that will come out in my opposition's smear campaign...Karl!!!), but that's neither here nor there.

so the recent slandering of President Barry as a socialist is somewhat disconcerting (and anti-library, almost Ray Bradbury-esque). while i won't attempt to make a counter-arguement here, i DO want to take the time to point out a little inconsistency i've noticed with the conservative beef on socialism.

i come from the south. where education sucks, and the roads are great. meaning, we prioritize our spending of tax dollars on long term bets like infrastructure (for industry!), at the indirect expense of things like education (the future!). i now live in NY, where the education is great, but the roads could use some work.

in Alabama, driving on 99.9% of our highways + by-ways is free (assuming you can pay for the car + gas), as tolls exist only in a handful of areas (like a shorter route from Montgomery to Wetumpka...what kind of name is Wetumpka?!?). though if you want your kid to get a good education, you'd better be willing to shell out the $ for a private school, or hope he's smart enough to get into a "magnet school" (an even more odd phenomanon is that in the southern states - AL, MS, GA, AK, LA - there is a LARGE series of state-grant funded "math & science" schools, which is otherwise a relatively unknown entity elsewhere in the US). it should be noted, that from 5th-10th grade, i attended magnet schools in the Montgomery Public School System, and for 11th-12th grades, i attended the Alabama School of Math & Science, which was effectively a boarding/geek school. bottom line, great roads = FREE. great education = GOOD LUCK (or good fortune).

in New York (and the broader New England corridor), if you find yourself driving on most of our major roads (crossing between towns), you're likely to pay a few tolls here and there. and it adds up. heading across the Hudson river to goto the mall costs $3-5. heading into Manhattan runs $5-7, depending on route or time of day. from what i understand though, our schools (in the county, at least) are pretty darned good.

which brings me to my broader point (paradox). in the south, people are overwhelmingly conservative (it's a red state), yet they're OK with having free roads (socialism). whereas in in the north, people are pretty liberal-minded (it's a blue state), yet they're OK with toll roads (which i find the epitome of "every man for himself"/"pay as you go"/"self determination free market principles).

i guess you COULD argue that quality, free roads are a liberty + a right to which everyone should be entitled (like education or healthcare?), and toll roads are a form of taxation, but are they really?

while (most) roads are not built by private corporations, but rather the government, driving on ALL existing roads is not NECESSARY for living your life (getting to your neighborhood school, grocery store, doctor, etc). so if you have some need that supercedes your living area (like say, a better job that might enable you to move up, socioeconomically), pay up. after all, that's what you have to do if you wanted to get there by air or rail. the road is simply a part of the infrastructure necessary to get there (like the cost of a plane or train/train tracks).

unless of course, you think simple things like that should also be free. but that smells awful red (which incidentally enough, is the color of the commies AND the american right)

so i'm not really sure what my point is (am i ever?). but all the people making the red states red (teabaggers and moderate republicans alike) who want the government out of their healthcare (and education) so they can pay for it themselves on the free market, might as well start lobbying for toll roads as well (stick to your principles!). otherwise, please shut up.

things like healthcare and education, while a BIT more intangible than the roads, are just as, if not a bit more, important in the long run.

so drive on. but if you're bringing your car up to see me in NY, i'd recommend you get an EZpass (or carry small bills + lots of change).

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