Choking on Congestion Pricing!

Mary Peters is the current US Secretary of Transportation….Norm Mineta filled
that spot before she came along – a Democrat and a former Secretary of Commerce under Bill Clinton. Norm was even Mayor of San Jose. Mary is a nice lady, very kind, most well-spoken, knowledgeably understandable, from Arizona private industry and was speaking at the Brookings Institute this morning. Mary took over, as we said from Mineta in 2006. Remember 911? Remember the creation and establishment of the Homeland Security Department? Remember Hurricane Katrina? Let’s just say…Mary had a whole bunch of stuff to clean up after Norm left for Hill & Knowlton! Remember those days of $2.50 a gallon for gasoline?

Enough background. Mary argued today that “people” – (we suppose she means citizens
of the United States) are not ready for increased “Federal Gas Taxes”. She offered
a look into the future that includes: “Convenience Fee’s” or “Congestion Pricing”
on a National Scale for Urban and Smaller Communities. Mary foresees the day when when “Vehicle Miles Traveled” will be charged via electronic sensor on the dash of
every car in America. It’s the old….start up your car in drive-way and the meter
starts to run. Mary’s main thrust however was to suggest “Express Lanes” on every
freeway. These “Express Lanes” would charge a variable rate utilizing this electronic sensor and the rate would change based upon the demand at the time…
for example: Rush hour on the 405….$2 bucks a mile! Something like that. She wants
to launch this system in Washington D.C. She wants us all to stop paying more gas
taxes…..because she says: “That system is unsustainable when it comes to providing for mass transit and environmental concerns!” Ms. Peters didn’t go all the way in or
by saying that we would be following the British, London example…..but it was very
close! She didn’t mention anything about the raft of Airline mergers but was quick to say that she “Knew nothing about the Mexico to Canada Trans America Highway!” “If there was a plan for that…I would probably know about it!” she stated. Ms. Peters also did not mention how these electronic sensors would work for yachts, lawnmowers, uninterruptable power supplies, generators for commercial buildings, the US Trucking Industry, polluting Energy Companies or for all Publicly owned government or/and Transit vehicles. Can we even imagine the Byzantine Regulations and fees that would be required to implement this stuff?

OK, the plan is to electronically monitor all of our movements in this country. The
plan is to charge us for wherever we travel in this country. The plan is to have
private industry run all our roads. The plan is to have no responsibility for making
the trains run on time. The plan is to take photographs and fingerprints of anyone that gets on Public Transportation in this country. The bigger plan is to avoid any interference in the Airline Industry at all costs and probably allow some Super International Corporation to own most of the world’s Airlines. The new “Open Skies Federal Provision” adopted earlier this year allows for more foreign ownership of
our US Airlines. Which is probably the key reason that the projected Delta/Northwest merger or the talk about another big United/Continental get together (currently off
in todays news) are either in the works or major talking points. Robert Crandall, the great former President of American Airlines is now calling for the Re-Regulation of the Airline Industry. We agree, this system needs some serious oversight. Helter-Skelter should not be considered a reasonable business plan! Suitable infrastructure technological improvements to our US Air Traffic Control System…..are more than required and needs a fast track long term funding implementation plan. The thought
that “Congestion Pricing” or “Convenience Pricing” could be utilized for the Airline
Industry, again is counter productive to competitive market forces and realities.

The facts are that all our transportation infrastructures are old, tired and need
to either be replaced or retrofitted. The Minnesota bridge failure was just a tip of the iceberg. This then begs the question: “What is the Government’s responsibility in providing roads and transportation infrastructure?” If we assume that pricing
needs to be charged for what each person uses….that will penalize innovation, hard
work and thwart any desire for creative adventures. If we Congestion Price virtually
everything we do…..only those that don’t work will be rewarded. The impact to our
society at large will be interesting to say the least. What people do not quite get
is that even Car Insurance will be impacted…by what and how much you pay for the
proposed “Pay as you go – Congestion Pricing Scheme!” Their concept to charge 8, 10
or 12 cents a mile traveled…..on a monthly basis of course! Doesn’t sound bad until you step onto one of those “Express Lanes” during rush hour by mistake!

For those that haven’t seen the movie “The Fifth Element” with Bruce Willis…it’s
a goofy Sci-Fi flick that shows “Congestion Pricing” as it will be. You might be
encouraged to rent it before you jump on the “I love Robert Poole, the Reason Foundation and Congestion Pricing – Bandwagon!” The problem the “Think Tankers”
have is trying to find “Enforcement mechanisms”….that includes technology that
will monitor us. Well, they have it…it is called “ON STAR”…and taken to its
natural conclusion….Every new car will be required to include this “Service” which
will be paid in a Public/Private Partnership….to both the owners of the vehicles
and the Governments….all of them; City, Counties, States and Feds!

So, Mary Peters will probably be replaced in 2009 when we get a new President in
place. Who will replace her? This is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, we need to contact our electeds at every level and explain to them in no uncertain terms: two things: (1) We do not want the British concept of “Congestion Pricing” and (2) All of us utilize roads, some more and some less. The Government needs to provide those safe and well kept roads for all the Citizens – even tourists that might come and visit our country. We don’t need to unwillingly “Adopt a Freeway” – that may then cost us hundreds or thousands of dollars a year. Thank you Mary Peters for your service to our country….but your legacy should be to guide and direct Re-Regulation of our Airline Industry…..oversee the failures of Mass Transit and AmTrak and further insure that Gasoline Taxes get to the potholes, road repair and the new roads that our country requires. Everyone else…at every level of government: Help her out!

To Robert Poole..the Brooking Institute and all other “Think Tank Mavens” with not such bright ideas: “Forget about it!” In the words of Jean Jacques Rousseau …
“We need a Social Contract….in this world….where government does what the people
cannot do for themselves!” OK…so part of that was John Stewart Mill….they were both right and Robert Poole…is wrong!

About Ron & Anna Winship

Independent News Producers/Writers and Directors for Parker-Longbow Productions. Independent Programming which includes a broad variety of Political, Entertainment and Professional Personalities. Cutting Edge - a talk the flagship of over 30 URL websites developed or under development. The Winships have been blogging for the Orange Juice since back when nickels had buffalos on them, and men wore onions attached to their belts, because it was the fashion back then.