Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More on private bridges 

Chad sees the light at the end of a toll road:
It's a toll road, but one that you don't mind paying for at all. The speed limit is seventy-five, the roadway is new, and you share the road with very few cars. Six bucks to get from DIA to Boulder (the last $2 on another toll way) is a bargain by any measure.

I've now hit the E-470 four or five times and the one thing that has always floors me is the toll way operators. Without exception, they've been friendly, polite, and seem genuinely happy to be doing their jobs.
I need to renew my drivers license soon, and this will be kept in mind (though I've noted before that the license plate people are usually quite nice.)

Also worth reading is William Anderson this morning, who reflects on the incentives for road and bridge maintenance.
The owners of a privately owned bridge would have the incentive to keep it in repair because the bridge is bringing them income; loss of that piece of capital is the loss of the income that flows from it. Therefore, we see the economic calculation for privately owned capital at work.

Governments, on the other hand, operate according to a very different economic calculus. Since the bridge does not bring an income to the state, at least directly, it is much easier for politicians to want to spend on those things that provide fame, glory, and votes. In fact, in a perverse way, the bridge collapse in Minnesota provides a benefit to politicians, since they now have an excuse to confiscate even more taxes from individuals, thus expanding the power of the state.

While some seem to think a public discussion of spending priorities is a good idea, I think it would be at best a waste of time to contemplate where government's inability to rationally allocate resources and form capital would do the least harm, when private alternatives are present and proven.

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