Sunday, January 15, 2006

Government, Highways, and The Common Good

Directly related to the item below, and by happy chance, a portion of a post from Grim's Hall:

As we were just discussing the other day, for both Plato and Aristotle the correct politics were a natural outgrowth of the correct ethics. The two things were natural in the sense that correct ethics was directly related to the nature of man; and correct politics was merely an extension of ethics to society. Once you know what the right kind of man is, you build a society that encourages and develops that type. This understanding is the foundation of Western culture.

Ethics and modern American politics are only very barely connected.

Grim goes on, through the President/Congress mess, to the State level:

Teddy Lee just got fired as executive secretary of the [Georgia] State Ethics Commission.

It is your loss - and a big one. He was sacked by a bunch of politicians who couldn't bend him, fold him or intimidate him from representing your interests above theirs....

Ethics - like motherhood and apple pie - is something all politicians pay homage to, but that's about all they do. Perdue is touting new ethics laws that have just gone into effect, but the law has more holes in it than Bonnie and Clyde.

And he concludes, correctly:

We need ethics and politics to be rejoined, or the nation will not survive. It cannot survive, with half of its populace believing the most active [Executive] branch to be in violation of its basic principles, and with no one that half can trust [in the Legislative] to engage in oversight. The matter has become critical

In a discussion I had this morning with a VERY responsible, moral, and ethical roadbuilder, he raised the point that the roadbuilders may have been unfairly targeted in the recent 'gas-tax' dustup. I demurred, offering the opinion that the principle of the tax was the issue--but I conceded that the roadbuilders were hit by a lot of stray bullets--they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, so to speak.

But he made an interesting point. While a few of the Madison-politician gang took some bullets on this, most of the pols managed to drop to the ground at let the roadbuilders take the lead.

As he pointed out, it may be useful to take a hard look at highway-financing in Wisconsin. Should the tax be a set-amount of cents/gallon? Should it be like the sales tax: a set-percentage of the sale? Or should "Maintenance" dollars be derived from fuel taxes, with "New Road" dollars derived from income taxes? Tolls?

Should the State of Wisconsin ensure 4-lane access to East Noplace because (say) General Megalopoly Industries wants to put a plant there? Or should General Megalopoly pay for the road, with the State picking up maintenance?

Most important: what is the "common good," and are our politicians now as ethically-challenged that they can no longer determine it?

Grim DOES have a point.

1 comment:

Grim said...

I'm glad you think so.