Ryan Avent observes that "A 25 percent reduction in federal highway spending would clear the way for a tenfold increase in annual federal transit spending–sufficient to produce a sea change in the way cities build their transportation networks." Given that driving, though a convenient and appealing way to get around, also involves substantial negative externalities, there's no rational basis for this kind of ratio in our federal spending.

For all the discussion under way about how to use taxes, auctions, and regulations to force people to consume energy less lavishly, there's surprisingly little talk about the desirability of reducing the scale of our subsidies for inefficient uses.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.