Monday, July 02, 2007

Congestion Taxing A Really Lousy Idea

Many government ideas prove unworkable, or actually make things worse than they were before. Such is surely the case with the proposed congestion tax, under which road and highway users pay a set daily fee to enter a central city, or, according to a New York proposal, both enter and exit one. In New York City, they are talking about $8 to get into Manhattan and $8 to leave it. I wonder how the residents of Queens, the Bronx and Brooklyn will like that idea.

Where congestion taxes have already been implemented, such as central London, they have proved extremely controversial and deeply unpopular with those who can't easily afford to pay them. Now, federal know-it-alls in Washington, D.C., are trying to foist them on us as a requirement before there will be federal funding for new highways. The L.A. Times has recently run negative articles on local officials who refused to prepare a congestion taxing plan for Los Angeles, and thereby missed out on qualifying for federal funds.

These officials are heroes. They ought to be given medals. There is no reason to cotton to social engineers and general assholes who want to tell us how we should live in California.

It is worth noting that there have been other ideas in recent years that have led to consequences quite different than their sponsors had supposed.

For instance, there was busing to relieve school segregation. That proved so unpopular an idea in Los Angeles, except on a voluntary basis, that it was finally abandoned, but not after years of bad feeling and public evasion. Talented public officials, like Rep. James Corman, were defeated for espousing it. Desegregation of the schools, I believe, was a popular concept, but it became unpopular when it had to be achieved by forcing youngsters to travel for hours each week clear across the city to go to school.

Finally, it was a liberal judge, Circuit Court Judge Stephen Reinhardt, who killed off the Los Angeles busing plan. Congratulations to him for waking up and smelling the roses.

Similarly, with social security and immigration, federal coalitions have proposed unwieldy or plainly unworkable ideas. In social security, it was private investment accounts with gross profits for middlemen. In the immigration battle, it was going to be a very unwieldy amnesty scheme for 12 million illegals already here, that would only have encouraged 12 million more to come.

Or let's take carpool lanes on the freeways. Billions of dollars have been spent on these, yet, as the L.A. Times recently reported, they are filling up. In short, it has been a waste of money. And yet much of the $19 billion recently approved for highway and other transportation bonds by the California electorate is being plowed in to this dead end venture, rather than build new freeways or rail lines. Yes, if the carpools were restricted, to be used for buses only, that might help congestion. But it would be politically unpalatable to carpoolers. The government, indeed, is often mistaken, and a gullible electorate is conned into approving the mistakes.

We have already had in Orange and San Diego counties a form of congestion pricing in toll roads, and they have caused bad public feeling and consequent continual price increases, an onerous bureaucracy and fines for violators that are completely out of proportion to any just result.

It is the old story of trying to create a utopia. You can't do it without compulsory measures, and these quickly become dictatorial measures. The real authors of such a concept of government are Leninists. It was Lenin who brought his Soviet Union 70 years of misery and the Gulag trying to force citizens to adhere to the Communist system, before the Communists were thankfully ousted from power.

In any case, in a city like Los Angeles where free parking continues in many respects to be the norm for shoppers, congestion pricing would inhibit economic activity and send many resisters to the nut house, if not the jailhouse. That same judge who sentenced Paris Hilton to jail for 45 days for driving with a suspended license, might start tossing congestion tax scoffs into jail.

Who had this idea, anyway? Maybe, it was Tribune Co. CEO Dennis FitzSimons, who is always looking for ways to annoy and even demoralize Californians.

In Los Angeles County, as in most of California, the freeways have been built with gas taxes and government subsidies that are financed by taxes. To introduce congestion pricing is a recipe for social strife.

This is an idea it is good to oppose before it gains further toeholds, severely impacting society. Show us the pointy-heads who are suggesting it, so we can put them out of their misery before they are able to do us terrible harm.


I recently had several Google updates added to my computer. They were supposed to be free of charge, but now I find that their principal effect is to expand advertising and slow down useful work. Cursed be to these damned companies, like Google, that afflict, rather than help the public. They should be put out of business, with rebates to their stockholders, of course.



Anonymous Matt Weinstock said...

What a great and informative article. I agree with you on forced compliance with do-gooder notions. Also, you made me think a little kindlier of Judge Stephen Reinhardt who I generally view darkly.

7/02/2007 12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How have carpool lanes failed?
You don't back up this claim at all. I use the carpool lane on the 405 everyday and it works brilliantly.

7/02/2007 1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, you're an idiot.
Also, nobody reads your blog.

7/03/2007 4:11 PM  

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