David Strom

Ever notice how the left’s solution to all the world’s ills is to create a bureaucracy?

The larger the better. The more government employees, the better.

Let’s take the example of providing transportation for people who can’t or don’t drive cars. As we all know, no matter how wealthy we become as a society or even as individuals, there will always be a few people who need help getting around because of economic circumstances, illness, or disability. Or who just plain can’t drive.

The solution that liberals have come up with is stunning in its scope: the building and subsidization of enormous, unwieldy, unproductive, and largely unsatisfying transit systems. If you ever for a moment think you might like government-run health care, take a look at the government-run transportation

system and you will foreswear ever toying with the idea again.

Transit is one of the greatest failure stories in America, on par with the welfare system prior to the reforms of 1996. Even as subsidies have skyrocketed, transit’s share of the transportation market has been steadily diminishing for decades. By any measure, productivity in transit has been declining while the rest of the economy has become much more efficient.

And yet, like welfare before it, transit (government-run transportation) is one of the most cherished programs of the left. If you ever feel the need to be compared to Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini, suggest the elimination of government-run transportation systems.

Let me give you an example from the area I know and love best: the Twin Cities metropolitan region here in Minnesota. We are blessed to have a regional government, unelected, of course, called the Metropolitan Council. Originally created to efficiently provide sewer and water service to the growing metropolitan area and coordinate planning among the zillion sovereign governments in the area, it has morphed into an unelected government spending over $600 million in tax dollars a year.

Of this, the Metropolitan Council spends over $300 million per year on providing transit services for basically Minneapolis and St Paul (most suburbs have opted out of the MetroTransit system)—and yet transit has a market share hovering around 2% of trips.

To put that in perspective, total State and Federal spending for all roads in Minnesota for the same year was $1.6 billion.

In other words, in order to provide about 2% of the trips for Minneapolis and St Paul—the Metropolitan Council consumed 19% of available money for the entire state. For most of us, that looks like a pretty bad deal, right? Spending more than 10 times as much per trip compared to road funding.


David Strom

David Strom is the President of the Minnesota Free Market Institute. He hosts a weekly radio show on AM-1280 "The Patriot" in Minneapolis-St. Paul, available on podcast at Townhall.com.

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