February 13, 2007

PAYING THE COST TO BE BOSS HOGG:

The Price Is Wrong: Why Our Roads Are So Clogged (Joseph Giglio, 13 Feb 2007, Tech Central Station)

[T]he fact is that congestion pricing is conservative economics at its best. For decades, conservatives have championed market-oriented solutions to highway problems as a means to allocate scarce resources. Congestion pricing gives consumers the opportunity to decide when it is in their economic interest to ride crowded roads, and whether the price charged for a given trip is worth their travel time savings.

In the former Soviet-bloc states, the standard way to allocate scarce goods was to set the purchase price low enough for everyone to afford, but to make consumers wait in long lines to buy them. The real price depended on what value consumers placed on their time.

This approach is the way we've always allocated access to most roadways in capitalist America - access is "free," just like for a public park. But our real cost skyrockets when we consider the time we spend crawling along in bumper-to-bumper traffic and with no option to pay extra for a faster trip.

And even without factoring in the cost of time frittered away listening to satellite radio, highways have never really been "free," but subsidized by taxpayer dollars. Congestion pricing is not a tax increase, but a user fee, which, conservatives agree, is a better way to divide costs. Indeed, economists across the political spectrum have long waxed enthusiastic about the superior logic of levying market-based prices for access to roadways; but until recently it remained little more than an interesting classroom concept since there was no practical way to charge motorists directly.

The advent of Electronic Toll Collection technology changed all this.


But conservatives hate free market economics when it costs them money.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 13, 2007 9:38 PM
Comments

"conservatives hate free market economics when it costs them money", not when it costs more listening to the radio going nowhere. Conservatives like to conserve money, but want to conserve time even more to make more money.

Posted by: ic at February 14, 2007 12:45 AM

No mention of several decades of the use of "environmental impact statements" to block any and all traffic mitigation attempts, often by the same people oppose all tolls because "they hurt the poor".

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at February 14, 2007 12:49 AM

"crawling along in bumper-to-bumper traffic and with no option to pay extra for a faster trip."

Like I've always said, some metro areas are prime for air taxis but the FAA's in the way...

Posted by: KRS at February 14, 2007 12:50 AM

The car provides totally flexible spatial mobility. It is what enables consumers to exercise choices in almost every realm of activity. Drivers can choose and choose and choose: jobs, vendors, neighbors--everything. One is displeased with a place of worship, and he or she may easily drive to another. The mobility even extends to the value of mobility itself: if traffic is too congested, why then more to a less crowded location.

The statists, always eager to bind man to the bed of Procrustes, resent our being able to escape from their plans for us.

Automobiles serve as such an important lubricant for social progress, that we should subsidize them even more, so as to gain greater advantage from market-driven evolution

Posted by: Lou Gots at February 14, 2007 1:58 PM

The car provides totally flexible spatial mobility. It is what enables consumers to exercise choices in almost every realm of activity. Drivers can choose and choose and choose: jobs, vendors, neighbors--everything. One is displeased with a place of worship, and he or she may easily drive to another. The mobility even extends to the value of mobility itself: if traffic is too congested, why then more to a less crowded location.

The statists, always eager to bind man to the bed of Procrustes, resent our being able to escape from their plans for us.

Automobiles serve as such an important lubricant for social progress, that we should subsidize them even more, so as to gain greater advantage from market-driven evolution

Posted by: Lou Gots at February 14, 2007 2:23 PM

And here's a report from the The Daily Telegraph on London's attempt: Debate on road pricing is 'a sham'. Once again the Social Engineers only manage to make things worse while giving their solutions a bad name.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at February 14, 2007 3:00 PM

Lou, you're right. Driving is our first choice for a lot of reasons, not the least of all, we are totally independent.

Posted by: erp at February 14, 2007 6:00 PM

The Brits just need to charge more.

Posted by: oj at February 14, 2007 6:21 PM

Complete spatial mobility is antisocial.

Posted by: oj at February 14, 2007 6:22 PM

Yes, and that's a good part of it's charm.

Posted by: erp at February 15, 2007 10:45 AM
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