Friday, February 17, 2012

Congress CAN Fund Bike Infrastructure

Over on Commute by Bike, in the comments section for an article there, I've been discussing bike funding with a fellow named Jeff Gardner. You can follow it here: 'Social Engineer' Your Kids With Chariot Child Carriers. My most recent comment didn't go through to the site, probably for some technical issues related to the renegade little Linux laptop I'm using. So here it is.

Okay, Jeff, I took a look at a random selection of your carpet-bombing collection of cases, and I have come to a conclusion ...

Dude, you have a serious, unhealthy fixation with the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution! While every case I looked at did indeed utilize the Commerce Clause as the authority in the case, and most of them were, indeed about interstate commerce, not a single one that I looked at had ANYTHING to do with Congressional authority over the wheels, or wings, or rails which move products and people around this nation.

I can see, now, that I have been much too gentle, maybe too subtle, with my attempts to help you understand how Congress has the authority to spend tax money promoting healthy, two-wheeled, human-powered transport. Time for some tough love, Bud! Time for an INTERVENTION!

Take a quick look at a document by those Nemeses of Bikes - Senators McCain and Coburn: Out of Gas. (You'll note that I consider your time and effort, and happily give you a hyperlink to the document; something which you didn't do and which is indicative of your struggles with your current mental state over the issue.) Look at the laundry list of items, which Congress has approved and spent transportation money on, that these two Senatorial Crybabies are complaining about: everything from programs to abate roadkill, to money for transportation museums, to funds for the beautification of highways, to (horrors!) actually BILLIONS in CASH for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure!

In any intervention, Jeff, the most critical moment is when the patient is forced to confront the TRUTH about their addiction ... and here we are my friend:
McCain's and Coburn's list is mere grousing and whining, there has NEVER been a successful challenge to the CONSTITUTIONALITY of ANY of the programs on that list!

I'm not even aware of any ATTEMPT to challenge those programs on ANY Constitutional grounds. And even if there were, I'm pretty sure the challengers would be about as successful as the wingnuts who challenged Social Security.

And it certainly wouldn't be healthy for YOU to participate in such activity, since I'm also fairly certain it would only serve to cause you to sink deeper into your OCD relationship with the Commerce Clause.


  1. BluesCat and Jeff Gardner:

    For what it's worth, I tweeted the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) asking them for their opinion on this issue. They an advocacy organization, in DC, and they have lawyers.

    Here's the conversation on Twitter:

    Me: Would love @BikeLeague input on "Transport vs. Travel" + other constitutional points being discussed in the comments:

    LAB: Our transportation system should focus on moving people, not just cars. @BikeLeague

    Me: Agreed. But what does the case law have to say about it?

    LAB: Is there a constitutional bar against fed transpo spending on bike/ped? No.

    Forgive me if I asked the wrong question. My moderating of your comments has been cursory because you guys make my brain hurt.

  2. Ted - I think you did exactly the right thing: directing LAB to the comments of the thread and allowing them to respond according to how they understood the discussion.

    For the last twenty years of my working in the field of design and construction of heavy highway projects, it has been almost entirely in the area of IT support. For the FIRST twenty years it was in the area of contracts administration. So whenever someone starts talking legal issues surrounding the field, a rush of memories, facts and conversations comes flooding back, and I feel SO young and invigorated; almost like a drug high.

    I remember moments when I entered conference rooms and a group of well-heeled lawyers would recognize me and start shaking in their Florsheims. I know some lawyers, architects and engineers who hate my guts because I warned them AGAINST taking a position in opposition to mine ... and they lost their jobs because they DID.

    I don't know how long it will last, but for the moment I think my pupils are STILL dilated!