Why We Should Support Privatizing the Roads in Washington State
With the current 405 mess that has happened, there is absolutely no doubt that people should want something new. Reform is attractive and supporters of the republican party here in Washington are quick to speak up on the topic, of course because democrats seem pleased with the status quo per se. They just want to keep pouring your dollars for the next empty ideal.
What if someone thought of an independent concept. Of course this idea I will present is not original, and is very well thought out by libertarians. Laissez faire, May be the method you can ponder. Too quickly, individuals may be reactive in their analyses of how this may work. This is of course why I am here to offer a quick taste. Avoiding the anarchist case of ethics, I will not pretend that this is what should be done everywhere. Small cities may have fine road structures they can maintain. But for cases like 405 in the Seattle area, any idea will not sound too radical at this point.
I'm sure most people will assume that I am going to make a case for tolls. I will, but on the contrary, let's play with the thought that roads are like the radio dial. Tons of wide open space on 405 (we know this to well being scorched in the sun everyday). Advertising would flourish here. Imagine having tons of billboards lined up and down the road. Lots of people use the highway, would be a great place to get some attention (especially for mechanics!) The signs could have a “brought to you by….” logo on them, just under the directions that the sign intends to give.
Tolling is actually not that heinous. We see the negatives of tolling because we are getting extorted elsewhere with taxes. This of course is not pleasant, especially when the road is public and managed bureaucratically. Tolling isn't so bad though if you are not being taxed, because like at a store, you don't get extorted before going! You make a direct purchase that you don't have to partake in if you don't want to.
Now imagine. When a rush hour hits at a grocery store or let's say a Starbucks. The management prepares ahead of time to be as efficient as possible. What is very clear in my many hours of traffic is that government does not handle things this way. Think of a road business that actually prepares for rush hour, and handle it the most efficiently. They may offer tolling rates for different speeds, on specific lanes or even separate roads. If you want to really get by fast, you can $4, while a slower lane goes for $0.75. Then you could have the open public road, that is theoretically free (in the case I am presenting). This may sound somewhat familiar, yet the differences are that rather than previous extortion as a method, it's a direct sale or possibly free for certain people. It also doesn't require stealing old lanes that were previously paid for by the taxpayers to then be transformed. All of this would be added on depending on the level of traffic.
Through direct sales the company would generate profit differently and would have a better incentive to produce a product the area enjoys. Investors like local businesses and corporations would have incentives to make profit using this system through advertising, possibly making costs go down in the long run. Private roads would have less incentive to extort customers, so speeding tickets and seat belt laws could be a thing of the past. Lanes (as I pointed out above), could be divided; so no one is subject to a slow driver. This could be done in the general road or toll, it all depends on what makes profit for the company. That is a big issue with the modern toll system; the toll lanes (and carpool too) can get clogged, even more so than the general lanes sometimes! Counter productive, right? I am sure that a company seeking profit and opportunity wouldn't allow that. If it did, it would get the boot from the public. Accountability usually brings quality.
With the profits the company could make, it could develop a rail system that follows the freeway and stops at all the exits; possibly giving way to new customers and getting car owners out of their car. What may appeal for the liberal is that clean energy initiatives could be supported through systems like this. The response for getting people out of their cars could call for a subsidy program, or what may be preferred from a more libertarian or laissez faire approach is a tax decrease. The company may want to implement roads or lanes specified for electric vehicles, or make rail systems that follow the freeway electric.
Nobody wants to be extorted and then feel obligated through many of life's difficulties to pay for some outrageous toll, that had already been paid off by taxpayers. It's to say the least absurd. It is the epitome of cronyism and government corruption. All of this leads eventually to more people turning to more government monopolization, because the community didn't forth any new ideas.
This contribution is from Washington-based independent journalist, Avery Hufford, Independent Contributor for the Liberty Chronicle Independent.