Friday, December 4, 2009

I am a teabagger, and I'm proud of it.

Yesterday our fun little progressive transportation sandbox known as Streetsblog was invaded when SFGate posted a direct link to a Streetsblog article.

SFGate - the San Francisco Chronicle's online presence is known for it's rather opinionated commenters. And aside from Mark Morford, the top commented articles are always cycling related. This brings out the best commentary on Critical Mass and endless streams of "Cyclists don't pay taxes".

The "cyclists don't pay taxes" crowd was in full force now that Streetsblog had been revealed. "peternatural" agrees with my assessment.

Some SF gate commenters can be pretty vitriolic when the topic involves bikes. They generally complain about these things:

Bikers are freeloaders who use the streets but contribute nothing to their upkeep, and if you asked them too they would probably whine and comlain because they are whiners and complainers.

peternatural then follows up with the boilerplate cyclist response...

But, since gas taxes are so low in this country, general tax funds pay for a big share of the infrastructure. Most bikers do pay sales and income tax, so this point is factually wrong. In fact, motorists who drive a lot are getting a partly free ride.

There is a general thesis that the anti-cycling crowd is primarily populated by knuckle dragging Sarah Palin fans. Guns, god, and a big Ford F-150 driven on a road made by God for CARS. One would think that might not describe the SFGate commenters since San Francisco is Gomorrah, after all. But this is the internet, and many if not most of SFGate's commenters are from Red States like Texas.

I agree with the thesis that there is a large intersection between rabid anti-cyclists and the Fox News/Glen Beck crowd. But herein lies a dilemma. The whole Raison d'ĂȘtre of Fox News is "taxes bad" . Seems to me if I sold my car, stopped driving, and thus stopped paying DMV registration and gas taxes, then I am being exactly the sort of patriot they are looking for! What a conundrum. Of course, they'd probably kick me out on my Frenchie loving butt for using the term "Raison d'ĂȘtre".

I guess their rationale is that they should be able to buy gas and cars and just not be taxed on it. Of course, then they would be paying no taxes just like me, and would lose their exclusive claim to the road. Dammit, another conundrum!

Anyway, I'm going to have to thumb my nose at "peternaturals" apologist mindset. I'm thinking I'll just put a couple of teabags on the back of my bike and continue protesting taxes the old fashion way by consuming less of a taxed good. I am a freeloading cheapskate after all. I learned to be one when I read a quote from a famous Marxist who said "A penny saved is twopence dear"


Frank Irwin said...

Damn the conundrums, full speed ahead!

djconnel said...

Let's suppose gas taxes exactly covered the cost of maintaining the car infrastructure. Would then the anti-cyclist message gain merit?

No. So even going with the argument "but we do pay!" adds credibility to their position. I don't give a * whether cyclists pay or not.

Gas taxes don't even come close to reimbursing society for the damage cars cause. When you do something which harms me, I take you to court and sue, and the court reimburses damages. That is, in an ideal world. So in that ideal world, I take every driver on the west coast, all of whom are compromising my health and safety, and sue them for the damages they induce.

That's a gas tax.

So anything left over I can consider a contribution to road maintenance. But by any reasonable back-of-the-envelope calculation, there's nothing left over. Indeed, I'm still deep in the red for every mile everyone else drives.

So this notion gas taxes, any gas taxes are actually paying for road maintenance is bull-hokey. We all pay. You pay in your piddling gas tax. And I pay in medical bills, reduced quality of life from noise and congestion, reduced health, and for the wholesale destruction of life on earth.