Sunday, August 15, 2010

Go to Free Parking! Do not pass go, do not collect $200

Because you already got the money in the form of free parking. Tyler Cowen in this week's NYT's Economic VIew brings up the subject of "Free Parking" that was already covered in Slate that I blogged earlier.

I'm glad to see that the New York Times is picking this up as well. Cowen's article is interesting in that he highlights the role of regulation in determining how much parking we should be assured. The relationship between regulation, taxations and market economics is very convoluted in the United States. More often skewed by rhetoric and polemic than a real analysis. In any case, it usually make hypocrites of us all if we actually adhered to our stated philosophies. (Note I am including myself in this morass). Most suburbanites who abhor taxes, probably think that this mandatory parking is a good idea. It definitely makes life easier at the big box store, even though it is an implicit tax or subsidy. Free parking further distorts the real price of driving.

Professor Cowen is also well known for a blog know as Marginal Revolution and he has a brief comment about the Islamic Center planned in Lower Manhattan near the World Trade Center. In the post he has the observations:

I fully support letting the NYC mosque proceed for reasons well articulated by Sullivan, Krugman, Yglesias, and others; if nothing else, this episode shows "politics isn't about policy" but rather about the relative status of different societal groups. We should think more seriously about how we might give Islam, and Muslims, higher status in the United States and elsewhere.

We tend to think of societal groups in terms of race and religion in the U.S. But there is another way of looking at the different societal groups and that's through a class lens. The suburban class due to its numbers has a lot of influence not just for the U.S. but for the world, They structure our society and cars make up a lot of the structure.

Before we leave thinking that autos are all about fun and games, the tragic accident in Southern California. What shocks me is how dismissive the spectators were to the risk and how close they were to the cars. As a bicyclist, I am fully aware of the risk cars pose to unshielded pedestrians. Cars have become so common place that we forget they can be dangerous. It's sad when fun and frivolity end like this, often we forget that when we play with the dragon's tail it can bite.


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