Every now and then, the newsroom at The Gazette erupts into intelligent conversation.
It's not often.
Usually reporters gripe about editors and editors gripe about reporters. Sometimes reporters gripe about other reporters. The Trough comes up, this table in the center of the newsroom sometimes packed with unhealthy food, doughnuts, pie and the like.
It's free food, and if you are looking for a reporter, find the free food. Guarantee you that he already has.
On this day, however, conversation turned to ways the country can raise money to fix its crumbling roads.
Clearly, the antiquated gas tax isn't working. Cars are becoming more fuel efficient.
And raising the gas tax won't work because while the increase may prop up the funds for a short period, eventually fuel efficiency will catch up again and the shortage will recur - an endless pattern of inefficiency - like federal government shutdowns.
Eventually, vehicles will be powered by something other than gasoline - hydrogen perhaps. And mass transit will power up once and for all, and passenger trains will become more the norm.
A group of regional organizations in Colorado has one idea that will hit the ballot next year, jack up the sales tax by 0.7 percent. To the organizations' credit, they're suggesting something other than upping the gas tax. Whether it gets past Colorado voters, however, is another thing.
It's not a simple thing, this fixing of the country's roads.
Well, for most of us.
"Tolls!" exclaimed senior military reporter Tom Roeder. That's the way he talks, like everything is an exclamation point.
His idea is that every road in America should have a toll. Imagine, if you will, that every road in Colorado is E-470.
"Toll roads!" he said. "They will absolutely fix everything!"
Barry Noreen had another suggestion. He used to write a political column here. He got booted up to editor, but before that, he wrote about this topic.
Noreen's suggestion? A user tax.
He's got it all worked out. Taxes would be paid on the mileage that vehicles travel.
Owners of smaller, lighter cars that have less impact would pay less. Owners of big vehicles, like Roeder's pickup, would pay more.
Semitrailer owners would pay the highest and whine the most. But, said Noreen, his legislation would include generous loopholes for truckers that would guarantee his re-election.
There is a problem, though, he acknowledged. Some sort of tracking device would have to go on every car, and that wouldn't be popular. Yet another tracking device, like your cellphone.
This wasn't a lesson in how to fix roads, it turns out. Because we can't fix them.
It was a lesson in how political footballs are debated.
It was the tiniest of looks at how highway commissioners, transportation directors, legislators and others who wrestle with this stuff struggle with consensus.
We didn't even have to deal with lobbyists.
As I walked away from the pair of self-proclaimed transportation experts, this gas thing banging away in my head when all I wanted to do was go to the trough and eat a doughnut, Roeder had the final say.
If you know Noreen, that isn't easy.
From his seat behind his computer, he swung around and dramatically pointed a finger at me.
"Toll roads!" he said.