News
Opinion-editorial
What cooks the goose, cooks the gander

Bill Hudgins
columnist

About 231 years ago, we Americans decided there should be no taxation without representation. However, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels deserves a scarlet coat and powdered wig for his imperial handover of the Indiana Toll Road to a private company.

Like King George III – and many governments today – Mad Mitch decided to slay the golden-egg-laying goose in hopes of getting all the gold at one time.

Mad Mitch says the state’s road-building program desperately needed the $3.85 billion bid by the consortium Macquarie-Cintra for a 75-year lease. This pair also leases the Chicago Skyway, where it raised tolls, refinanced the deal to lower its stake, and may reap $400 million in depreciation. At least the shareholders are happy.

But shareholders are flighty – they want all the eggs now and every quarter to come. It doesn’t take much imagination to foresee more potholes and fewer asphalt trucks on the Indiana Toll Road.

When Mad Mitch testified about privatization before Congress last year, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR, asked: Why couldn’t Indiana earn as much on tolls as this foreign adventurer? “Are we outsourcing political will to a private entity?” DeFazio challenged.

Tolls are taxes. They’re like $50 down, $50-a-week car payments – it hurts every time but only a little.

Governments are generally too spineless to inform voters that infrastructure is damned expensive. So they rattle the tambourine of “Free Enterprise” to distract voters so they won’t realize that a business, instead of someone they elected, is picking the jingle out of their pockets.

I’ve seen both private and public worlds, and know that business isn’t necessarily more efficient than government. The difference is, businesses are responsible only to shareholders and owners, while your government is, or should be, responsible to you. And only you can act to stop the spreading madness.