15 August 2010

The costs of free parking

In his book, Professor Shoup estimated that the value of the free-parking subsidy to cars [in the US] was at least $127 billion in 2002, and possibly much more. ... “Who pays for free parking? Everyone but the motorist.” Free parking comes at a price, Tyler Cowen, 'New York Times', 14 August
One big advantage of Social Policy Bonds is their transparency. If we wanted to subsidise car drivers, for example, a Social Policy Bond regime would require that we do so with our eyes open. Under the current arcane, opaque policymaking process those interest groups with (essentially) the most muscle can manipulate the legislative and regulatory environment to suit their own ends. So we end up with free car parking for the minority of people who drive cars a lot. The price is high, but it's borne by society in general. The car drivers who benefit, pay very little. It's the same pattern in other sectors. The well resourced use the vagueness of current policymaking to their own advantage. And who are the well resourced? Large corporations or government agencies. More and more, it seems, their goals are not only different from those of ordinary people; they are in conflict with them.

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