Time for Taxpayers to Walk the Other Way
There are plenty of examples where government programs come up short, but one area where we usually can count on the government to come through is in its creation and implementation of nanny-state regulations. As recent examples make clear, there’s certainly no shortage of government dictates that walk us closer and closer down the path toward a nanny state. From what size soda you’re able to purchase to how you can transport your pet, each example seems more egregious than the next. And just when you think you’ve heard the worst of them, a new one comes along to rear its ugly head: the “Safe Routes to School” program.
Like most government programs, the title of this program is at best innocuous and vague. And even after examining its stated purpose: “to reduce vehicle usage, increase foot traffic, and consequently create healthier children and a cleaner environment,” a lot of questions remain unanswered. For example, a lot of ambiguity surrounds what constitutes a safe route and who determines what a safe route is. Perhaps still the most confounding element of this program is demonstrated by the amount of money the government has spent on it since 2005 – a whopping $1 billion!
An example of one of the grants dispensed for the “Safe Routes to School” program (with a grant from the Department of Transportation) may better sketch out the supposed need for this grant program. As an American Thinker article recently explained, “In Wisconsin, a regional planning commission was awarded over $900,000 to assist schools that couldn’t figure out how to help children walk home.” The most obvious question is where are the parents? And short of that, the teachers? It seems – and rightfully so – nearly inconceivable to imagine how almost a million dollars is needed to help children walk home from school.
But it’s more than a matter of wasted tax dollars, one thing this example reveals is that our government – through bureaucrats’ implementation of programs like this one – actually thinks it is better equipped than a parent to determine how one’s child should be walked to school. The terms of this program leave many questions unanswered, like: who determines that parents are failing to adequately find ways to transport their children to and from school? Shouldn’t a problem be identified before a remedy is proposed? Even if a situation is found where parents are allegedly failing at this task, what grounds exist to demonstrate that the government is able to handle this situation any better?
Taking a closer look at the underlying purpose of this program may reveal its true agenda. Looking beyond the supposed altruism of ensuring children’s safety – albeit still not an appropriate usage of taxpayer dollars – the stated purpose of the “Safe Routes to School” exposes what easily could be conceived a blatant environmentalist agenda. If you wonder how a reduction in vehicle usage and increased foot traffic directly correlates to establishing a safe route to school for kids, you’re not the only one who has that question. Based on the government’s own description, it appears that this program is less about safe travel for kids and more about the government seeking to control another way we live our lives.
As a previous Taxpayers Protection Alliance blog explained, “On top of the loss of personal freedom, taxpayers can’t afford programs like these.” Unfortunately, this program isn’t the first of its kind and it likely won’t be the last.