Let’s Talk RTA

Election day is Tuesday the sixteenth. Let’s talk some Regional Transportation Authority (RTA).

Libertarians are sometimes humored, but more often horrified, by the focus of the debate. Reporters enumerate the details, commentators debate the details, while huge violations of liberty – and the concept of representative government – are ignored. Proponents and opponents prattle on about whether or not the trolley from the University of Arizona to the downtown area is the stupidest part of the plan (it may be), or if purchasing rights-of-way in the southeast is smart (it is). Meanwhile, the single most important issue is left to me to address.

If members of the Tucson City Council are irresponsible with the tax dollars they raise, we get rid of them at the election time. If the Pima County Board of Supervisors are irresponsible with tax dollars they raise, we get rid of them at the election time. If the appointees at the RTA are irresponsible with the tax dollars they raise we….we what?

The overriding mistake, the one that trumps all other issues, is the creation of yet another level of government composed of unelected bureaucrats that will have taxing authority. Unelected appointees with taxing authority is anathema to citizens. Any government official with taxing authority must be subject to firing by the people directly. How many other ways can I put this? Is there anyone who disagrees?

I know that they promised to stick to the plan, and I know that they have procedures for deviating, as in the requirement to hold a referendum if they deviate by a certain percentage, but they are not bound by law. If anyone says that they are bound by law, ask him what remedy is in place in case it is violated. I’m not suggesting that they should be bound to all the details of the plan. That would certainly be unreasonable considering the nature and magnitude of the projects. They should, however, be accountable directly to the people – which they will not be.

It is typical for this sort of “authority” to eventually slip under the radar, accrue large amounts of money and political power, and become an entity in and of itself, instead of by and for the people.

If you like the plan, vote for it; tell them that it is a good plan. If you don’t like the plan, vote against it; tell them it stinks. Whatever you do, vote against the tax! It is not really an issue of the tax itself, but rather to whom the funds will flow.

It is too late to stop the creation of the monster, but we can keep it from getting any teeth.

1 thought on “Let’s Talk RTA

  1. For me it IS an issue of the tax itself.

    For three decades we have been assured by developers that “growth pays for itself,” a blatant lie easily proven by the municipal tax rate we already suffer. Now those same developers are all donating to get the RTA plan passed, and add yet another half percent tax on the citizens of Tucson. Where is the outrage?

    There is no way one can reasonably argue that those of us already living here should pay for the infrastructure necessary to handle those who want to live here.

    Impact fees are the only way to do this fairly. If you claim the freedom to move into a community, you must accept the expense to that community of you doing so, and that includes not only traffic accessibility, but water and sewer service, police and fire protection, garbage collection, etc.

    The arguments I hear against impact fees almost all come from my own side of the political aisle. But I fail to see what is unconservative about expecting an individual to pay his own way through life, rather than demanding that one’s neighbors shoulder part of the cost.

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