It is a standard Republican meme, that Obama is a socialist. But who are the real socialists in America? James Schwartz of the Urban Country quotes a definition of socialism:
Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.
Schwartz notes that this pretty much defines the American road and highway system, as well as the automobile and oil industries.
From subsidies given to oil companies to produce cheap oil, to government bailouts/ownership of auto manufacturers, to road construction and maintenance on streets that cost nothing to use, to highly subsidized parking spaces, to government health care costs associated with pollution from automobiles, to the detrimental health that results from sedentary lifestyle that cars promote, to the vast government policing forces required to enforce our streets: it is undeniable that driving places enormous costs on our society, and this cost is highly subsidized by our government.
Unlike other forms of socialism that benefit society as a whole, the benefits of motorist socialism are outweighed by our roads being overly congested, our air polluted and the growth of alternative modes of transportation are stifled.
Schwartz goes on to explain how this socialist subsidizing of the driver puts America at odds with the rest of the world, comparing the price of gas vs transit in other countries.
In China a litre of gasoline ($0.946) is almost 3 times the cost of a one-way ticket on local public transport ($0.32). In the United States a one-way ticket on public transit ($1.94) is almost double the cost of a litre of gasoline ($1.00).
And now there is even talk of killing the gas tax , the only part of the cost of road infrastructure that is actually pay-as-you-go.
James has a good point. If the government owned all the grocery stores and apartment buildings, and and then sold or rented it with a massive subsidy to everyone, it would be called socialism.
But Republicans have no problem with government owning the roads and giving them away almost for free, (the gas tax only covers a portion of the costs), and complaining about a few nickels being directed to those who do not drive. Who are the real socialists?
More at the Urban Country.
More on the true cost of driving:
Stop Whining: $4 Gas is Really Cheap
GOP Post-Birther Strategy: ' Where's Our Cheap Gas'