Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Intellectual gridlock

After complaining about the state of local roads and highways, LA Times correspondent Ralph Vartabedian manages the following: "Toll roads reduce congestion, not only by increasing road capacity but by reducing demand. If we want to do that, then why not slap tolls on every congested interstate with electronic meters? To me, that seems like bad capitalism. Roads are public goods and efficient open transportation has served our economy well for over 100 years."

And the U.S. Census' American Community Survey has just been released. The Census Bureau reports that, "For the nation as a whole, the average daily commute to work lasted about 24.3 minutes in 2003." The nation's worst commute is in NYC (38.3 minutes) because of heavy transit use.

What can one say? 1) In spite of the absence of efficient pricing, we do pretty well (while people spend as much time complaining as they do commuting [to paraphrase a wise colleague]); and 2) We dismiss pricing and, instead, go for awful second-best policies, contriving and relying on strange logic streams, as the one cited above.