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Opinion: Governor DeWine Takes Socialist Approach with Highway Tax

Walker Evans Walker Evans Opinion: Governor DeWine Takes Socialist Approach with Highway Tax
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If you haven’t heard, Ohio’s highway system is flat broke, but new Governor Mike DeWine (R) has a solution to the problem: raise taxes. He recognizes that our transportation networks are the vital backbone to moving people and goods to where they need to go, and he’s willing to implement a socialist strategy that involves all of us paying more out of pocket for the greater good of our communities, regardless of whether we use individual roads or not.

While this socialist approach from a traditionally conservative politician may sound bizarre, it’s not actually something new. President Eisenhower (R) authorized the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, which allocated $25 billion (that’s $230 billion adjusted for inflation in 2019) in public funding to construct 41,000 miles of highways zig-zagging across the US.

“Whether they like it or not, most motorists are socialists,” states James D. Schwartz, Editor of The Urban Country, in a piece published in 2011.”The American media tends to generally associate the term socialism with social assistance such as welfare, but socialism comes in different forms.”

According to Dictionary.com, socialism is “a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.”

That theory could apply to many aspects of our society in the United States — from our police and fire departments, to our libraries, to our postal service, to our sidewalks and roads, to our public park systems. It’s safe to say that most Americans would probably agree that our quality of life would suffer if we had to pay tolls on city streets, user fees for sidewalks, gated entry fees at every public park and had to let our houses burn down if there wasn’t enough cash in our checking accounts to Venmo to the local firefighters before they turned their hoses on.

DeWine is taking the same “we all pay for the common good” approach for fixing our highways. He wants an 18-cent-per-gallon increase at the pumps, which all gas buyers would pay for, regardless of which roads you plan to use or not use, with no exemption for gas buyers looking to fill their lawn mowers or generators. The Ohio House announced last week that they want to cut his tax increase to 10.7 cents per gallon, but DeWine is pushing back that it’s not enough to keep highways from crumbling.

Strangely though, DeWine is not in favor of a federal gas tax increase for all Americans. He was quoted as saying that he wants the tax money to stay within Ohio instead of being re-distributed across the country. That only really makes sense if Ohioans never leave Ohio. If you drive outside of the state, then you stand to benefit from driving on bridges that won’t collapse and kill you while you’re on vacation.

Time will tell if DeWine will apply his newfound socialist mindset to other realms of his Governorship. In the past, DeWine has been a supporter of the privatization of public education with for-profit charter school businesses, even though many of Ohio’s children have suffered through poor performing schools and major charter school closures like ECOT. Socialism is alive and well in most of Ohio’s suburbs where public schools thrive through a taxpayer supported model, and there’s no reason to think that returning support to city schools couldn’t help to address some of the issues faced across the state.

Want to send DeWine a message to let him know how he’s doing? You can drop him a note right over here: governor.ohio.gov.

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