Sustainability in the Core of America's Big Apple
|By Nelson LaPlante|
|Wednesday, 13 June 2007 13:35|
New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg is involved in Sustainable Public Private Partnerships that will result in increased fees and controls on New Yorkers.
On April 20th, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed the idea to charge fees to drive through the heart of New York City. The idea comes out of the mayor’s Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability that had been studying the issue. It is based on London’s policy that charges the equivalent of about $16 to drive into London.
Bloomberg’s rationale is a classical Sustainable Development policy argument saying, “Using economics to influence public behavior is something this country is built on – it’s called capitalism. Tax policy influences you to drill here and mine there, and grow this and live here and do that.”
Bloomberg’s definition of capitalism sounds more like fascism. Many will agree that using economics to influence public behavior along with the power of the state is a fascist concept.
The policy translates into the desire is to get more people out of their cars and reduce the amount of New York drivers, forcing them onto the public transportation system. It is the use of economics through fees to limit access and mobility, primarily for the lower and middle class who will be most affected by such fees.
I visited New York and stayed on the East side of Central Park. I was witness to the amount of congestion that exists in Manhattan Island, the borough where the fees are to be enforced, The most populous U.S. city with over 8.2 million residents, more than 5 million each weekday already ride the world famous New York City Subway. It often seemed that the sidewalks and subway cars were the most congested areas and the streets seemed to be mostly a combination of taxis and limousines.
One should also note that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority linked up with MasterCard for a Paypass system that will make use of a RFID payment scheme. One wonders if this burrough has not already attained Sustainable City status due to its apparent lack of personal auto use
This idea is not completely new to the United States. Many cities across America provide the option of free or fee lanes. That is that motorists can choose the traditional, free highway lanes paid for by their tax dollars, or similar toll roads, also paid for by the very same tax dollars, plus additional user fees . The incentive to pay more is that the fee roads are generally less congested.
The key question that I have upon hearing this policy is what are the real reasons behind this? We know that historically the US government has used similar ways to condition people into accepting their plans. Often this results in the slow erosion of freedom and property rights. Is this how residents of NYC are going to be conditioned into private toll booths resulting from a sale of the bridges and tunnels that people use in entering the city? Politicians across the United States have begun selling off famous American icons paid for and owned by the taxpayers to foreign corporations such as the New Jersey Turnpike to a foreign corporation tied in with a foreign government. A 99-year lease was sold to an Australian company for Virginia’s Pocahontas Parkway.
It makes me think that perhaps it is the beginning of a fire-sale of New York City. Texas is preparing to build the NAFTA Super Highway, which will be a private toll road paid for by US tax dollars and owned by a Spanish-American partnership of investors that will be taking the profits.
 Kugler, Sara. “Fees to Drive through the Heart of New York City? Might work, Mayor Says”. Canadian Press. April 21, 2007.
Sustainability in the Core of America's Big Apple by Nelson LaPlante