November 2, 2015

The unholy alliance against gridlock

This is a recipe for a perfect storm of hyperbolic deceit (a.k.a deceit), and a prime example of liberalism.  (1) People hate gridlock. (2) A new liberal federal government is coming into power in Canada that wants to build infrastructure and wants to runs deficits to do it (3) A relatively new liberal provincial government in Ontario wants to spend money but raise money any way it can to do it (as in tax and spend liberals) (4) A naive centrist mayor in Toronto wants to expand public transit.  And finally (5) this suspiciously timed report:
It is long past time that Canada’s congested cities began putting a price on some of their most precious real estate, says a new report from Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission.

We’re not talking about toney residential enclaves, gleaming office towers, retail districts, industrial parks or condominium complexes, but rather the thoroughfares that join them.

“We’ve got a very scarce commodity called road space during peak times, and it’s unpriced,” Chris Ragan, the McGill University economics professor who heads the private ecofiscal think tank, said in an interview.

“We don’t price road access, and the cardinal rule in economics is if you have an unpriced resource it gets over-used.”

Traffic congestion is the subject of the latest commission report, “We Can’t Get There From Here: Why Pricing Traffic Congestion is Critical to Beating It.”
Ecofiscal Commission? It's being billed as bi-partisan but anything bi-partisan would not have that name.

That aside, roads ARE PRICED. It's called taxes. The real problem is the clearly 'economist' in the room,
Ragan says part of the problem may be that governments look at tolls strictly as revenue generators, rather than a way to alter driving habits and encourage use of public transit. Combine that with an impulse to fight congestion by building more roads and the problem never gets solved.
Alter driving habits? That's not economics, it's social engineering. The government is there to keep people honest, not pick winners (public transit) and losers (cars)
It’s the second major study from the privately funded, non-partisan group of 10 economists backed by a cross-partisan advisory board that includes the likes of Reform party founder Preston Manning, former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin, Suncor CEO Steve Williams and B.C.’s former NDP premier Mike Harcourt.

With less than a month to go until a key international climate change conference, Canadians may be bracing for an economic hit of some sort as the new Liberal government has promised a more aggressive international stance. As Ragan notes, however, “congestion pricing” fits into a suite of solutions that make as much economic sense as environmental.
Oh yeah, (6) a global climate summit is part of the perfect storm. What it boils down to is that they are changing our High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes to High Occupancy Toll lanes. More money for government under the guise of ecofiscalism. Not a happy time to be a Canadian.

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