Getting What You Don’t Pay For

There’s a great old joke set in Texas. A rancher is talking to an outsider, boasting about the size of his ranch. He tells the guy: “It takes me a whole day to drive across my ranch.” And the other guy replies: “Yeah, I used to have a crappy truck like that.”

The Texas economy is currently soaring thanks to an historic oil boom. This is great news for the state. But there’s a down side to the oil boom. Many farm-to-market roads in South and East Texas are getting pummeled by heavy oil-truck traffic. Crumbling and full of potholes, the roads have gotten to the point where they’re too dangerous to ignore any longer. So to fix the roads (which is an expensive proposition) you’d assume that some sort of tax or levy would be imposed on oil producers, since they’re causing the damage.

You’d be wrong because you’re using logic.

The Texas Department of Transportation has announced plans to convert 8o+ miles of paved roads to gravel. The DOT spokesman said this:

“Since paving roads is too expensive and there is not enough funding to repave them all, our only other option to make them safe is to turn them into gravel roads.”

Yup, that’s the only option. Apparently, the farmers and ranchers in the area aren’t too pleased. They’re learning the joys of living in small government,  anti-tax America. This “solution” is probably how oil-rich Nigeria rolls when facing such challenges.

It’ll be fun to see what’s next. When the funding runs short for textbooks, they’ll probably put sewing machines in middle schools and have kids make shirts for The Gap. They could call it AP Home Economics.

Maybe that old joke about the rancher is actually a premonition. Welcome to Texas, where the rubber meets the gravel.

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5 thoughts on “Getting What You Don’t Pay For”

  1. Save some of that tar for the politicians! The FM roads in Texas used to be amazing — the shoulders were essentially another lane and slower vehicles would always drive on them while you passed. This meant you essentially had a paved four-lane highway for the county roads.

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