Shoupista or Sandinista – Does the Left Love Market Pricing for Parking?
I’ve had to go back to school a bit to try and understand the economic theory that is being espoused here and here. The links were sent by Don Shoup to the Cities of LA and SF (Parking Departments) and copied to me as examples of how the far left likes SF Park and LA’s Expresspark — the real life manifestations of the good professor’s theories.
The Blogger in the first case, Mike Konczal, is from Chicago and in fact, juxtaposes the Chicago Privatization with LA’s ExpressPark, which will use market based dynamic pricing to set parking rates. Its really fairly benign, He hates the privatization in Chicago since it takes all decisions out of the hands of the ‘people,’ and seems to like the LA and SF approach, since pricing is going to be based on the market, but in the last analysis, ‘control’ rests with the government.
In the second case, a college professor, Peter Frase, who it would appear has economic beliefs somewhere to the left of Lenin, seems to be more concerned about the ‘fairness’ of the pricing system:
It’s captured in the second phrase I bolded in that first passage: “people will park based on how much they’re willing to pay versus how far they are willing to walk to a destination.” In just three words, “willing to pay”, we have swept away the inequality of wealth and power that any attempt to turn market mechanisms toward planned ends must confront. Willingness to pay, of course, is also a function of ability to pay, and a market mechanism implicitly attributes worth to a person’s desires in proportion to the money they have to spend.
He ends his piece thus:
All of which is enough to make a good progressive recoil from such a thing as “the market price for street parking”. But this position is not nearly audacious enough. Rather than a rejection of market relations, this is merely a rejection of a novel form of planning, in favor of the older, more obscure, more unfair and more inefficient methods of planning the use of public space. We could say instead that what’s needed is a direct assault on the inequalities of wealth and income that subvert the functioning of prices, and thereby impede the realization of the plan.
Wow! Its been 40 years since I have had to try to wrap my thoughts around this stuff. Don thinks these folks support his concepts, I’m not so sure. In Konczal’s case, he seems to like the LA/SF approach as the lessor of two evils, as compared with full blown privatization as in Chicago.
Frase is concerned about the social impact of the theories, that is it is unfair to charge more for some things than for others, since then all people can’t equally partake of the marketplace. Poor people won’t be able to park as close as rich people and that certainly is a stigma that we cannot have in a truly ‘fair’ society. Forget everything and provide a “direct assault on the inequalities of wealth and income that subvert the functioning of prices…”
Frankly, its hard for me to tell if Frase is serious or writing satire. Based on reading his credentials, I say he is serious. And therein lies the tale.
I think Don may be reaching a bit here. He uses the term “like” and I think at best “lessor of two evils” may work for Konczal and Frase, well who can tell.