Don’t Meter Me Bro

ParkingMeterThumbby RobL
The normative experience is liberalism. We’ve been so conditioned that we don’t realize adherence to Leftism has been imposed upon us. Our lack of awareness deliberately cultivated by the Left will further result in the advancement of Leftism and the erosion of our liberties, freedoms, and rights.

Municipal-metered street parking is a perfect example. Why do we allow government to force us to pay to park our car on our streets? We paid for those streets have we not? What benefit do we gain from this parking ‘tax’?

Immediate harms come to mind. First is the de facto increase in government via creating parking laws, codes, regulations, and then administrating, policing, and adjudicating them. Consider the expansion of personnel and its accompanying cost of new bureaucrats, meter maids, traffic court staff, etc. And for what, to simply insert more aggravation into people’s lives and redistribute their wealth yet again to pay for the honor?

Consider the purported benefits:

An increase in parking spaces? Not really. All metering systems actually decrease the amount of parking space available. People are competent enough to park without the aid of a meter.

Its stops illegal parking? Is that even a benefit? Illegal parkers will still park illegally. And when they get tire clamped they cannot move their car, thus ensuring the space is utilized longer than necessary and worse; the tow truck comes and blocks traffic for everyone else when towing time comes.

I’m not talking parking anarchy. I’m talking limited government. Of course there can still be some designated parking areas (i.e. handicap), no parking zones, and parking rules. But you don’t need meters to regulate a ‘no parking from 0200-0600’ area.

Imagine the increased efficiency when a limited police force can just focus on those nasty few who do park illegally. And the rest of us can be free of paying taxes so meter maids can ticket the poor schlep who placed his quarters in the meter only to realize the meter’s broke and then get a ticket for his efforts — hey the meter still says 00:00.

Listen, people are smart enough and capable enough to park on street in an orderly fashion. Smaller cars need less space and metering doesn’t allow for this. Metering will not change the behavior of the parking jerk and only punishes the meter-abiding citizen to search for the now less available spaces.

Meanwhile, increased parking challenge means less people may go to the city to shop, visit, or eat. This only hurts local business who now have less potential customers visiting their district.

Remember, we the people paid for our roads to increase access to goods, services, and freedoms. Why is the state acting to limit that access? It is not in our interest, yet we allow them to do it. Why? That ‘why’ is the crux of the matter. We actually think intrusive government is aiding us, making our lives better, providing us happiness. This is the result of pernicious Leftism that has crept into every aspect of society.

The next time government – whether federal, state, or local – offers to swoop in and help you for your own good, scream, ‘DON’T METER ME BRO!’ And if they do, you best vote for someone else next time around. • (2002 views)

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20 Responses to Don’t Meter Me Bro

  1. CCWriter CCWriter says:

    Well, here’s a counter-argument to consider: There’s a need to allocate scarce resources to optimum use, and money is a good mechanism for this, because it devolves the decision-making to the users. Usually the meters are in places in the city where the spaces are needed by shoppers, that is, these spaces are of higher value. A small charge prevents them from being taken up by, for instance, permanent parkers who don’t use their cars often and could just as well use the side streets even if it means walking a block.

    Look, the collective financing and collective ownership of street parking will tend to produce the usual tragedy of the commons situation unless there are incentives for some not to misuse the resource. I’m not saying government never abuses the system, it often does. But individuals can, too, and this has to be discouraged while still offering people options and choices. “Do I need this space enough right now to pay a quarter” is appropriate.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Usually the meters are in places in the city where the spaces are needed by shoppers, that is, these spaces are of higher value. A small charge prevents them from being taken up by, for instance, permanent parkers who don’t use their cars often and could just as well use the side streets even if it means walking a block.

      Yes, I think that’s a good point. The practical affect of parking meters can be to free up spots for shoppers. If there were no parking meters, those places will tend to be filled up by various people, but not shoppers.

      But I’m sympathetic with with what Rob is saying because we can see where all this is going, from the NSA to your humble parking ordinance. In fact, it’s generally considered very bad form for a conservative to criticize the police. And yet, at least in my state, the State Patrol is being turned into little more than a revenue collection agency as more and more speed traps are added along highways that never were a safety problem.

      It’s getting to the point, as I have quipped before, that they need to replace “To Protect and Serve” with “To Collect and Hassle.”

      For what it’s worth, the libtards in my city are right now on a binge of “improvements.” They’re blocking off many streets, removing lanes, all kinds of stupid liberal shit. If I ever do run for mayor (and my father was mayor of this town at one time), it would be on a platform of removing most of this crap so that people can drive their friggin’ cars around. The first thing to go would be these nanny-state speed bumps. Good god, they’re stupid.

      So I don’t mind Rob rethinking this stuff, getting back to first principles, if you will, even though I think it’s obvious that if you removed parking meters that the spaces would be taken up in an instant for purposes other than shopping. I think it’s more than okay for a city to want to promote trade.

      • CCWriter CCWriter says:

        Oh, agreed. I’m quite concerned that cities these days will do anything for revenue whether or not it’s fair and just, because they’ve wasted what they’ve been given. They particularly abuse the red-light cameras. Even street-cleaning is a “gotcha” game. I think of City Hall as one big pirate ship. Any day now I expect them to start fining people who don’t own cars, on the grounds that by not having one they escape having to pay license fees and being subject to parking tickets.

        I don’t like government favoring particular businesses at the expense of others, as laws restricting food trucks tend to do. On the other hand metered parking for an entire business district does seem an impartial way to solve a rationing problem–and again, choice is the method.

        I am worried about cars speeding through my side street, gabbing on the phone, treating stop signs as optional. Other blocks have “traffic-calming” devices, mine doesn’t. I can kind of see both sides of that issue. I sure don’t like the implication that by driving at all, you’re being bad and deserve to be interfered with. Not all drivers are irresponsible. Responsibility used to be the expectation. Now control is being taken away from everyone, responsible or not. That’s very bad for society.

        By the way, the cops in my city have a distinctly conservative streak, at least going by a well-known blog. Like the blue-collar traditional Dems who are still a factor here, they know the difference between a law-abiding citizen and the other kind. They have little patience for how the upscale liberals have exacerbated the social pathology and yet tie their hands when they try their best to protect everyone.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          On the other hand metered parking for an entire business district does seem an impartial way to solve a rationing problem–and again, choice is the method.

          Agreed. But to support Rob’s point (and perhaps yours as well), it’s a common practice for merchants (perhaps in cooperation with the city) to advertise free parking for certain events or times of the year in order to induce shoppers. So maybe some of those meters aren’t much more than yet another scheme for revenue — on facilities we have arguably already paid for.

    • RobL_V2 RobL_V2 says:

      All good points CC but you’ve falling for the liberal trap. You assume its a given only government can ‘allocate scarce resources’ and prevent ‘tragedy of the commons’.

      I’ll admit the government can do it but do they do it wisely, offering the best service free from waste and abuse? I can tell you this, I have a signs on my block that says no parking. we are not allowed to park on our own street but neighbors one block away can. Why? Some fire code or something but there is plenty of room for a fire truck?

      I’m not writing to expel sour grapes but to exemplify my daily reminder of obedience to arcane and arbitrary government parking regulations in the locale I know the most about. Why should I think they are managing things better anywhere else?

      Why cannot businesses coordinate a parking policy on the streets adjacent to their storefronts. All cities have small business associations and they work out a myriad of challenges and difficulties and ironically its usually the government that comes up with regulations to squash their entrepreneurial solutions. Usually the private locally organized managed system is vastly more efficient then the governmental version.

      But to even offer this in casual conversation is the get rolling eyeballs as people think, what are you crazy, its the governments job… why should we do that. Yet these same people are hassled by governments role in our life. There are other options, my baseline assumption is they are better then the governmental solution until proven otherwise (and if proven ‘otherwise, they have more flexibility to correct their mistake). I’m offering this should be our normative not the reverse.

      • faba calculo says:

        “You assume its a given only government can ‘allocate scarce resources’ and prevent ‘tragedy of the commons’.”

        The way to prevent tragedy of the commons is to not create a commons. If parking’s free of enforced restrictions, it’s a commons. Your idea of a community association of business owners isn’t going to work unless they can force you not to park somewhere. Not ask you not to park there, not glare at you angrily for parking there, but actually FORCE you not to park there.

        “I have a signs on my block that says no parking. we are not allowed to park on our own street but neighbors one block away can. Why? Some fire code or something but there is plenty of room for a fire truck?”

        How many lanes in each direction is your street?

        “I’m not writing to expel sour grapes”

        Ooooo! Yuck, Rob! Man, I could have gone all week without having that image put in my head! 😉

      • CCWriter CCWriter says:

        I would be in favor of letting the business owners come up with a parking policy for the adjacent streets. Unfortunately they do not own the streets so the city gets to do the policies and usually it is not done in the smartest way but according to favoritism. I would be in favor of privatizing streets in some manner so that the people most affected could take over the policymaking.

        • RobL_V2 RobL_V2 says:

          Interesting thought. Privatization, why not? Sure the businesses don’t own the street but neither does the government. We own it and the government provides stewardship but apparently they cannot do that very well, thus they ask for the people to take care of the roads, giving us KKK road sponsorship. Well if they will give it up to the KKK, why not those who are highly interested in proper road management in front of their businesses

          Privatizing is a brainstorm the more I think of it, kind of like when Margaret Thatcher privatized council houses to enormous good effect.

          I’d offer they should next privatize health care (wait a minute…)

          and after that border security.

          • CCWriter CCWriter says:

            In general I’m for devolving decisionmaking down to the lowest practical level, and this can mean privatization, especially when it allows checks and balances to operate. In the parking instance, the local merchants’ association would have to be conscious of customer demand and make sure it worked for their convenience. If they failed to operate it to satisfy the customers and the neighborhood in general (overlap there of course) they’d get some immediate pushback, including lost business.

            In this sense the street would be quasi-privatized, since it would really be in the hands of a group with the virtues (one hopes) of group decisionmaking, not a single entity that doesn’t have to do its best to harmonize various legitimate aims, primarily those of the actual users.

            We have seen instances of abuse of privatization, yet it seems they occur when control is given over to large, monopolistic entities through some questionable process and there is no mechanism (including individual choice and pricing and the prospect of competition if they don’t get it right) to make them answerable to stakeholders.

  2. faba calculo says:

    Gotta go with CCWriter.

    To defend free (OK, zero marginal cost) parking is to defend the government “giving” us something for nothing. It is to defend subsidizing some businesses (those with street frontage) but not others (mall stores, assuming the mall pays for its parking lots). It is to favor subsidizing some forms of transportation (cars) over others (bus, walking, etc.). And, finally, as CCWriter pointed out, it is to subsidize inefficient space and time usage.

    Now, of course, bus traffic gets subsidized in other ways (fare subsidies), and IF you can’t get rid of those, it may make more sense to subsidize other forms as well, thereby bringing things back onto a level playing field (what economists call The Theory of the Second Best). But what we should be aiming for as conservatives (I think) is less “free” provision of government goods and services, as much as possible, except where the good in question is a true public good (i.e., where me consuming it does nothing to prevent you from consuming it, such law enforcement, justice, national defense). That means parking is metered, roads are toll roads (opening the way for congestion pricing), and so forth.

    • RobL_V2 RobL_V2 says:

      Yes but faba you already paid for that road, why do you now have to pay for the privilege of parking on it. Its like buying a house and then paying rent to the government if we want to live there (oh wait a minute, we already do that…)

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Yeah, don’t get pst4usa talking about property taxes. Or, maybe we should. 🙂

        • faba calculo says:

          No, don’t get me talking about the property tax, or any wealth tax. It’s a complete assault on the concept of private property. I can live with the government taking a bite out of my apples as they come, but once they’ve had their bite, what’s mine is mine.

          I lived in Seattle back when the Californians starting moving up and driving up the housing costs, especially along Lake Washington. No problem there: there’s a finite supply of lake front property, supply and demand and all that, etc. But then people started losing their houses because they couldn’t pay the property tax on them anymore. Then and there, I came to believe that any tax that disconnected ability to pay from obligation to pay was an unjust tax!

      • faba calculo says:

        See above…I share your hatred of the property tax. But if the road’s initial construction was already paid for, then the toll is only needed to pay the upkeep, which obviously hasn’t been paid for yet. Thus, we shouldn’t see double paying result.

        It is regrettable that the road was originally financed in such a way as to create the problems I listed above, but that doesn’t mean that we have to pay for upkeeping it it in a way that perpetuates them.

  3. Kung Fu Zu says:

    Have any of you seen the toll charge discontinued for a toll road?

    I have only seen it once in my life and the government types involved fought to keep the toll but they lost. Somehow, when the toll road was built, the bond issue or law that approved construction had a clause in it that required the toll booths to be removed and charges to be discontinued once the bond had been paid off. At least that is how I recall it happened.

    That was over thirty years ago and I am still waiting for the next one.

    • faba calculo says:

      The 520 floating bridge in Seattle was built as a toll bridge. Once it was paid for, the tolls went away. That was around 1975. Now it’s going back to being one to pay for the new floating bridge that is going to replace it. (Two lanes was enough to get people from the east side go Seattle 40-ish years ago, but not anymore.)

      But keep in mind something. Even if the TOLLS never go away, the TAXES can vanish the next day. Tolls are user fees, not taxes. You only pay them if you use that road, and the more you use that road, the more you pay. Try telling your state that, because you never use this or that freeway, you’re not going to pay your share of the taxes that support it and see how well that works!

      • RobL_V2 RobL_V2 says:

        I do not have an issue with tolls, assuming its toll revenue that pays for its construction and management.

        • Kung Fu Zu says:

          I agree, but how often is the toll discontinued after the construction of a project has been paid for?

          If I recall correctly, there is a toll bridge in NYC which was paid off decades ago and all the money taken in go to the general fund. I think it is the George Washington Bridge.

          I am curious if the toll charged on the Golden Gate Bridge is to pay off the bridge or something else.

          The floating bridge in Seattle appears to be one of those occasions when the toll was discontinued.

          • faba calculo says:

            It would appear the Golden Gate Bridge tolls are used to fund the bridge and the ferry and bus system that are used to keep congestion on the bridge low (lacking the busses and the ferry, it’s estimated that peak congestion on the bridge would be 1/3 higher).


            So it sounds like there is some subsidizing going on but not nearly as much if the over-payment of the tolls are going into the general fund.

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