Perhaps the most incisive part of Michael Lewis’ book “Boomerang” is when he observes that Americans have become obsessed with getting something for nothing, spotlighting California as the example of this taken to an extreme, as various propositions over the years have reduced tax revenues while other propositions have increased the obligations of the state to provide services for its citizens. The recent announcement by Governor Jerry Brown that the state’s deficit will be $16 billion instead of the forecasted $9 billion just underscores how ridiculous this imbalanced mindset has become. The fact that this is viewed as a spending problem is even more pathological.
Drive any road in America now, and chances are you will be faced with decay — failing bridge expansion joints, potholes, crumbling shoulders, faded paint, and sporadic lighting. In some cases, streetlights have been taken out of entire towns in an effort to save money. Yet, in aggregate, Americans are spending $25 billion more on new tires, broken axles, and alignment problems than previously, more than any tax increase for proper roads would cost. We are truly paying for our cheapness.