No, millennials aren’t responsible for potholes

How hard do the old-timers work to make millennials look like jerks? Really hard.

Take a new report out from Standard & Poor’s on the state of U.S. roads, which is built on this foundation.

Between 2001 and 2009, the average number of miles driven by 16 to 34 year olds dropped by 23 percent, due to young people taking fewer trips, shorter trips and a larger share of trips by modes other than driving, according to an October 2014 report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Frontier Group.

And when they do drive, they are driving the smaller, more fuel-efficient cars that are available today — compared to the cars available to previous generations at the same age — and also taking advantage of the rise of car-share and ride-sharing programs.

Essentially, millennials are doing what the country’s leaders have been trying to get Americans to do since we started lining up at gas pumps during the Arab oil embargo of the ’70s.

Now try to follow Standard & Poor’s logic here. Because millennials don’t drive as much, they use less gasoline. And because they use less gasoline, they pay less gasoline taxes. And because they pay less gasoline taxes, there’s not as much revenue to maintain infrastructure. And because there’s not much revenue to maintain infrastructure, the infrastructure begins to collapse.

Whose fault is that, according to Standard & Poor’s? Not the politicians who don’t have the political courage to raise the gasoline tax. Not the mostly grey-haired crowd who won’t let them.

Whose fault?

Check the headline that news media dutifully lifted from the report’s title without a whiff of critical thinking skills.

The federal gasoline tax is now 18.4 cents a gallon.

The gas tax was enacted in 1993 and was never indexed to inflation. If it had been, we’d be paying about 30 cents per gallon.

Earlier this year Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ruled out raising the gas tax.

Mitch McConnell is 73 years old.

(h/t: Matt Lutz)