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The socialist in all of us

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Jim Thompson

By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

In John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address of 1961, he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”  

In the 63 years since then, some, more than others, but all for certain, have gone exactly the other way. In the back of everyone’s mind is the idea that we are going to get more from the government than we pay into the government.  

Many representatives and senators brag about how much federal largess they get for their district or state versus the taxes their constituents pay in.  

Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia was famous for such statements. Beckley, West Virginia, where he lived, named everything that didn’t move after him in honor of his socialistic prowess.

In our heart of hearts, everyone tries to get more out of the government than they send to it. Admit it, you know it is true.

Energy is a good case in point.

Worldwide, the overall energy policy in place is derived from ideas one hundred years or more old. For the last century, all we have been doing is putting band aides on this, leaving us with a mishmash of regulations that do nothing to make a consistent, effective policy.

We will just focus on highway transportation here and ponder a bit how a sane policy in this corner of the energy world would have a profound impact on energy usage everywhere.

The cost of travel on highways should be based on three factors: the weight of the vehicle, the distance traveled, and, in some cases such as metropolitan areas, the time of day.

The cost of travel should not be based on the style of vehicle (auto, truck, bicycle, buggy, etc.) or the type of energy source (electric, petroleum, muscle, etc.).

Now, legislators and activists who want to promote their favorite energy source and demote others will want to tweak these, but this only messes with the purity of the protocol and exposes their socialistic tendencies. 

Back when we got off the horse and got into a powered vehicle, we did not have the mechanisms to measure energy usage the way I have described but today we do.  

Today, we can easily measure the metrics that I have outlined and charge for them accordingly – weight, distance, time are the only three attributes to measure. These are engineering values that require no other adjustments.

And no more government aid to construct highway systems – those who use them pay for them wholly through the protocols I have described above.

Every one of us would likely drastically change our transportation habits if these protocols were in place.

What is the likelihood we will ever do this? Zero. But remember, any time you bring this up and encounter anyone who is resistant to these changes, their resistance is likely because such a move would gore their favorite subsidy and chip away at their internal socialistic tendencies. 

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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Matthew (not verified)

17 May 2024

A pet peeve of mine is when, seemingly non-essential drivers, are on the road when there's 1 or 2 or 3 inches of snow on the highways... The non-essential drivers seem to be older than me, but they're out there driving anyway, 25-30 mph in a 2wd vehicle, with a high-level of nervousness on a main route. I have said, "If you can't drive in the snow, then don't drive in the snow." As an essential employee, the reason I'm on the road during a winter storm is because I'm going to work. I leave early for work, I have a 4wd, and I get frustrated with the nosy "weather watchers" and the gawkers that are blocking the road. When I'm old and retired, and it snows: I will not be on the public highways... I pass more cars during a weather emergency than I do during normal operations. Yes, there may be an urgent reason for the meek and the elderly commute to who knows where during a forecasted winter storm, but a simple rule sticks in my head: Prior planning prevents poor performance. Now comes the revelation that I'm guilty of similar social and transportational infractions. In July of '96, after Hurricane Bertha blew through eastern NC one night, I ventured out the next day and drove off the military base and went to the Circle K in Swansboro for a newspaper and a Mt. Dew. I was 19 years old at the time...

Matthew (not verified)

19 May 2024

Is the G.I. Bill I used socialism? I did fork over some of my basic pay ($100 a month, or about 15% of a E-1 or E-2's take home pay in 1995) towards the Montgomery GI Bill program during my first of enlistment. The Montgomery Bill cut a monthly check for my full-time education, no matter how much the college costs were. In 1999, It was about $550 a month while enrolled in college. After G.W. Bush was President for a couple years, the GI Bill paid out about $1,200 a month for a full-time student. Then in 2009, I fell into a government loophole, because of my 10 months of active-duty service post 9/11. I fell into a yearlong extension of the new GI Bill that automatically paid for half my college costs. Minus living expenses and commuter college costs, best I can figure, Uncle Sam paid for half of my 5 years' worth of college. I am thankful for the stipends, but it seems like I put in a lot of work and some sacrifice only to soften the financial blow of higher education at the cheaper institutions in my neck of the woods. Many times, I wish I just got a CDL and some welding training instead of useless classes on Gender studies and Art History... Then on a related thought of taxpayer funded Veterans' payments. What if an honorably discharged service member did have a handful of minor ailments that were service connected? Hearing loss, concussion(s), a knee injury, or back and shoulder damage... Is it socialism for a worn-down old Veteran to receive a modest monthly bank account boost?

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