First there is this from the History Channel's website:
On this day in 1916, in a ceremony at the White House, President Woodrow Wilson signs the Federal Aid Road Act. The law established a national policy of federal aid for highways.
From the mid-19th century, the building and maintenance of roads had been seen as a state and local responsibility. As a result, America’s roads were generally in poor condition, especially in rural areas. As the so-called Progressive Era dawned near the turn of the 20th century, attitudes began to change, and people began to look towards government to provide better roads, among other infrastructure improvements. The first federal aid bill was submitted to Congress in 1902, proposing the creation of a Bureau of Public Roads. With the rise of the automobile–especially after Henry Ford introduced the affordable Model T in 1908, putting more Americans on the road than ever before–Congress was pushed to go even further.
In the 1907 case Wilson v. Shaw, the U.S. Supreme Court officially gave Congress the power “to construct interstate highways” under its constitutional right to regulate interstate commerce. In 1912, Congress enacted the Post Office Department Appropriations Bill, which set aside $500,000 for an experimental program to improve the nation’s post roads (roads over which mail is carried). The program proved too small to make significant improvements, but it taught Congress that federal aid for roads needed to go to the states instead of local counties in order to be effective.
Serious consideration of a federal road program began in early 1916. There were two competing interest groups at stake: Farmers wanted sturdy, all-weather post roads to transport their goods, and urban motorists wanted paved long-distance highways. The bill that both houses of Congress eventually approved on June 27, 1916, and that Wilson signed into law that July 11, leaned in the favor of the rural populations by appropriating $75 million for the improvement of post roads. It included the stipulation that all states have a highway agency staffed by professional engineers who would administer the federal funds and ensure that all roads were constructed properly.
In addition to enabling rural Americans to participate more efficiently in the national economy, the Federal Aid Road Act was a precursor to the Federal Highway Act of 1921, which provided federal aid to the states for the building of an interconnected interstate highway system. The interstate highway issue would not be fully addressed until much later, when the Federal Highway Act of 1956 allocated more than $30 billion for the construction of some 41,000 miles of interstate highways.
And there is this personal postscript:
If you are visiting this blog for the first time, some of what follows might not make sense to you, but other visitors (i.e., the small corps of loyalists and friends) will understand my words.
The foregoing article from the History Channel's website serves as a metaphor for my blogging efforts. In other words, the road ahead needs improvements.
My past blogging efforts have been marred by inconsistencies, contradictions, deletions, questionable content, occasional flashes of brilliance (I say immodestly), broken promises, and too many impulsive declarations. I make no excuses for all of that has been good, bad, and ugly. The past is simply the past.
Now, with this posting, I simply hope that the road ahead, for as long as I can keep moving forward, will be marked by improvements, consistencies, fulfilled promises, and -- above all -- blog content that is often interesting and sometimes provocative but always clear and concise.
* * * * *
Now, with all of that out of the way, I turn my attention to the foregoing article more specifically. I observe the evidence of something dangerous in Wilson's signature of the Federal Aid Road Act. You see, beginning with the Articles of Confederation, continuing into the drafting of United States Constitution, and moving forward with relentless force through amendments and statutes and regulations and judicial decisions, the federal government has become more (too) powerful while local and state governments have become less autonomous. Some of the early Founding Fathers would be horrified by the trend; others would be over-joyed.
Well, as for myself, I see Wilson's presidency (represented in small part by the Federal Aid Road Act) as just another nail in the coffin of the United States of America, originally conceived as an aggregate of mostly independent but united and protected states within the umbrella of a limited federal government responsible for national defense and protection of individuals' inalienable rights.
Perhaps I am not correctly stating the case.
Perhaps I misunderstand American government.
Clearly I need to learn more in order to better understand the issues.
Now, though, it is your turn:
Tell me what you think.