The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal

Informed but opinionated commentary and analysis on urban transportation topics from the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty.

Our Mission: Monkeywrench the Anti-Transit Forces

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Friday, August 02, 2002

The Latest “Wisdom” from the Cato Institute: Highway Communism!

From the Cabalmaster:

We at the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal were amazed to read a plan for a veritable Communist revolution on America’s highways.

Even more amazing, this plan was drafted by two Cato Institute staffers. “Pricing the Fast Lane,” by Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren, was published by the Washington Post on July 12, 2002 and reprinted by other newspapers nationwide

Taylor and Van Doren assert that “Roads are congested because they are free, and because no market mechanism exists to allocate scarce road capacity.” They advocate a road-pricing scheme, using technology to collect tolls “without the burden of toll plazas and gates,” with prices varying by time of day “to ensure that the lanes remain uncongested at all times.”

The most frequently-asked of road pricing FAQs: “Where would all the money go?”

The article provides not a clue. Taylor and Van Doren dismiss “building more roads, increasing transit availability and mandating greater density (smart growth)” as “ineffective.” There would be no evident, discernible link between “user fees” and “user benefits.” In other words, the market relationship among demand, price and supply would not exist. No market relationship, no free market. That, to us, smacks of Communism.

Taylor and Van Doren present a solution to a major problem of Communist economies -- based on the technological fruits of the free-enterprise system. The Commissars were masters at drafting slogans, Five-Year Plans, and so forth, but never devised an appropriate pricing mechanism. Hence, their planned economies were plagued by shortages, inefficient allocation of resources, and so forth.

Taylor and Van Doren would use pricing to suppress excess consumption, of a good produced or supplied in fixed quantities (e.g. road capacity), so that shortages (e.g. traffic congestion) never occur. This remarkable scheme, if applied to all goods and services, might actually make a planned economy work.

(Suggested listening for the remainder:

or, for devotees of the late Austrian singer Falco (“Der Kommissar”),

Imagine the shelves of Moscow’s GUM (“State Department Store”) back in the bad old days, filled with goods, at prices all could afford. But there’s a catch:

“From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.”

“And so, Comrade, if you buy more than the Plan says you need, you will trigger a price adjustment, and everyone will have to pay more. People will grumble about your over-consumption, and each babushka you pass will shout "Shame! Shame!”

How ironic that the Cato Institute, that bastion of free-market thinking, should be in the revolutionary vanguard when it comes to Communizing America‚s highways.

p.s. We have provided the following transliterated lyrics so that readers so inclined may sing along with the first “Suggested Listening” website above:

Sa---YUZ ne---ru---SHI---miy res---PU---blik sva---BO---dnikh,

Splat---TI---la na---VE---ki Ve---LI---ka---ya Rus,

Da‚ Œz---DRAVS---tvu---yet SOZ---dan---niy VO---ley na---RO---dav

Ye---DI---niy, ma---GU---chiy Sav---YET---skiy Sa-YUZ!


SLAV---sya>, ---
DRUZH---bi na---RO---dav na---DYOZH---niy o---PLAT!

PAR---ti---ya LE---ni---na - SI---la na---ROD---naya

NAS ka tarzh---yostv‚ kom---mun---IZ---ma ve---DOT!

(Yeah, we know, there was an “official” CPSU-sanctioned English-language adaptation, but it loses something in translation!)

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