The Corner

Red Andrew?

Andrew Sullivan writes:

A TRAFFIC SOLUTION: Early reports suggest that London’s new approach to solving traffic jams is a huge success. The British capital recently set up monitors at all the entrance routes into central London. If you want to get into the hub at peak hours, you have to pay a fee. If you haven’t paid the fee, you pay a fine. Cameras record number plates. If you live in the central district, you get 90 percent of the fees reimbursed. The result? A return in central London to the traffic levels of the 1950s. One thing you can always depend on in Britain: everyone is cheap. But what interest me more as a matter of media coverage is that all the praise for this initiative has gone (and rightly so) to Mayor “Red” Ken. But his solution is anything but red. It’s pure market economics to achieve a good environmental result. It’s Friedmanism for a traditionally liberal cause.

– 2:48:36 AM

Hmmm. I’m not so sure. No one should be surprised that people respond to economic incentives and disincentives. Levelling fines on certain behavior to reduce that behavior doesn’t seem like “Friedmanism” to me. No “pure market” has been created. People cannot trade anything.The fact that Brits are “cheap” is irrelevant. If they were lavish, the fines might have to be higher, but they’d still be fines. Maybe it’s been a huge success, maybe it hasn’t. I generally favor efforts to close off central cities to traffic, but that’s just because I like to walk around central cities. But I don’t see how levelling fines on the legal use of private property is a huge triumph for capitalism.

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