On Tuesday here, I lamented the federal government's blackmail of Indiana over billboard issues. If you think that's too anti-government, you can go to The Journal Gazette's editorial page for the pro-blackmail view:
Demuth said his challenge now is coming up with $2.5 million to update the inventory.
Granted, that's a steep price. But the loss of $90 million in federal dollars is much greater, and a state that leased its toll road for $3.8 billion ought to be able to come up with the money to put it in compliance with federal law.
The editorial never says why the billboards are such a bad thing, other than to repeat the Federal Highway Administration's claims that we have billboards "in areas prohibited by federal law," permits are granted to blank billboards and there are "size-standard violations and spacing issues." I guess we're just supposed to take it for granted that billboards are a safety hazard and an ugly blight upon the land.
Safety, I think, we can all concede. If a billboard impedes drivers' vision or is in some way too distracting, take it down. But emphasizing aesthetics invites counter arguments about commerce. The federal government can, of course, set any billboard rules it wants to on interstate highways, but that doesn't mean it has to. And those who want to argue the safety angle should note that Indiana is getting harassed under provisions of the Highway Beautification Act.