When Day Became Night: A special report on the solar eclipse

I happened to see this on Sky News yesterday and found it interesting and entertaining. Perhaps you will as well. Always interesting to see others view of us, after all.

I wasn’t that fascinated by the eclipse, I got that out of my system back in ’73, but you know, I spent most of an hour out in the backyard staring at the sun myself. 🙂


The First Gasoline Tax: Less Than Romantic (Oregon: 1919) – Master Resource

Did you ever wonder how the gas tax came about? I did occasionally but never enough to study it and find out. Not surprisingly it turn out to be a sordid story of self-interest and government cronyism. From Masterresource.

“I was asked to draw a state highway map that would win the votes of a majority of the members by placing roads [so] they could take them home with them as pork wrested from Portland…. This map ran in front of the farm homes of enough legislators that . . . 37 representatives joined in introduction of the bill…. It took all day . . . to get the map changed so a majority of the Senate would vote for the bill…. My poor map was almost unrecognizable, but it served its purpose.”

– C. C. Chapman, “father of the gasoline tax,” on Oregon’s passage of motor-vehicle fee in 1917, which became a gasoline levy two years later.

Was Oregon’s tax the work of a far-sighted reformer with the special interests keeping a safe distance in the interests of fair and balanced government? Or was it the result of a confluence of private and public interests creating a supply of and a demand for special government favor?

Unlike the textbook view, it was the latter. And “Big Oil” was involved in Oregon’s historic public-finance moment. The major oil companies calculated that the total revenue from gasoline sales would rise more with tax-financed road construction than if gasoline was cheaper by the amount of the tax and fewer (public) roads were constructed.

Nothing very novel or even unusual there, really. that’s how political sausage is made And in some ways, the fact that the government built roads, in a political environment is likely better than if they’d turned the map over to ‘experts’. And even with my libertarian tendencies, it’s hard for me to see how local roads at least would be overly rational as private property. So maybe it’s not the worst thing ever, really. federal highways and Interstates are likely a different sort of animal but that’s another discussion.

Oregon’s beginning led to road taxes in all 48 states within a decade to fund road construction. But, gas-tax revenue started to be diverted to other uses to the chagrin of the oil majors, now organized as the American Petroleum Institute (API). “Phantom roads” became an issue.

Government intervention giveth and taketh away. Expect the same for any ‘starter’ carbon tax.

That does bother me. We approved of the gas tax to build and maintain road, not for any other purpose (seems like the usual suspect these days is so-called: light rail). Which if there was enough demand for it wouldn’t need government subsidies. But it does, and where it has been built, (like the interurbans before it) it has failed.

The First Gasoline Tax: Less Than Romantic (Oregon: 1919) – Master Resource.

There’s quite a lot more at the sourcelink but I see little point in reproducing it. You should rhe link, include some from Heritage. cronyism is always going to exist, the trick is to keep it at a low (and local) level so it doesn’t do too much more damage than the good it can do.

Saddle Up

Ok we’ve all had the weekend to look for silver linings in Supreme Court decisions, or to cry in our beer about the destruction of our America, or hide under our beds so the boogeyman doesn’t get us, GET OVER IT.

There was a time, and it wasn’t very long ago, when the proudest boast in the world was, “I am an American“. How did that come to be?

It came to be by damned hard work.

  • You think it was easy to carve out a foothold on a virgin continent?
  • You think those pioneers like Abe Lincoln‘s dad didn’t get tired of cutting the primeval forest down to plant a few lousy acres of corn?
  • You think it was easy to walk from St. Louis to Sacramento to try to find gold, or to Oregon to find better farmland?
  • You think it was easy to leave your family and friends knowing that you would probably never talk to them again?

It came to be by bravery against all the odds.

  • You think it was easy to revolt against the greatest empire in the world with a slogan like “No taxation without representation“?
  • You think it was easy to charge into the best defensive line (on high ground) that the “King of Spades” could devise, like the army did at Marye’s Heights?
  • You think it was easy to build a railroad through the Sierra Mountains?
  • You think the Little Big Horn was fun?
  • You think anybody wanted to scale the bluffs at Pointe-du-Hoc

It came to be by taking responsibility for yourself

  • America wasn’t built by whining about what your neighbor has. If you want it, go earn it.
  • America wasn’t built by playing games, get a job, and take care of yourself.
  • America wasn’t built by the EEOC, or affirmative action, or anything else but doing the job better than anybody else.
  • America wasn’t built by stealing from your neighbor so you didn’t have to work.
  • America wasn’t built by overeducated idiots who were too important to dig a ditch when necessary.

Way back at the beginning they knew the answer:

“If ye shall not work, neither shall ye eat”

It came to be by trusting and believing in God.

This country was God’s gift to mankind, a second chance to get it right, and the leaders to show how to do it.

This country was built by people who were not afraid to speak the truth; who would have spat out PC nonsense with contempt.

It came to be by trusting in honorable men.

This country was built by men (and women) who said what they meant and meant what they said.

There have been two boasts recorded in history.

The first was:

Civis Romanum Sum

the second was:

I am an American.

Both mean the same thing:

I am a free and independent man, don’t mess with me.

This country was built by people who had nothing but the guts to start over, work hard, and love their God. You know, these:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

America is the chance to succeed, or fail, on your own terms, again and again. The only guarantee is that you’ll get old but, if you’re good enough you have the chance to succeed beyond your wildest imagination. That’s my America.

So if you want that old, self reliant America back, there’s only one thing to do:

Quit yer bellyachin’, and

Saddle up, America, and do it.


The Price of Freedom

Western trails in Nebraska. Blue = Mormon Trai...

Image via Wikipedia

Let’s start with a song, shall we:

Keep that in mind, we’ll be coming back to it.

As I sit here in my office, looking out the window, I can see 7 of the great American migration routes, from north to south:  The Lincoln Highway, US Highway 30, The Transcontinental Railroad, Interstate 80, The Platte River, The Oregon Trail, the Mormon Trail, and  the Pony Express Route. Think about how many hopes and dreams have passed through here.

Now combine that with Shenandoah. The song came about in the early 19th century and was made famous by US sailors all over the world. what does it speak of? It speaks of loneliness, of likely never seeing your friends and family again, and does it hauntingly. It was very appropriate for those sailors, and it was equally appropriate for (and loved by) those thousands/millions trekking through Nebraska on their way to a new and hopefully better life.

Why did they do it? Some, of course, to avoid the sheriff, or their girlfriend’s father but, mostly they were going to, not running from. To what? A better life, maybe, but they were going to have to build it themselves, and if you’ve ever driven I-80, you know what a trek it is today, let alone to walk it, as most did.

What motivated them is the same thing that has motivated American from the very beginning: Freedom. Freedom to build your own life. Freedom to be left alone, Freedom to be the very best that you can be.

What was the price they put on that freedom? That they would most likely, whether they succeeded or failed, never see their family and friends again. If they were very lucky they might receive a few letters in the course of the rest of their life.

And remember, it was out here, on the Oregon trail (and it’s fork in the road, the California trail) that the saying became true. “The sick died, the weak never started”, it was that kind of migration.

That freedom had quite a price, didn’t it?

What is yours worth?

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