Julian Quattlebaum 
Member since May 24, 2017

Recent Comments

Re: “Let’s talk about markets

I appreciate the point that entitlement to parking as a resident is a socialist idea. There is this notion currently in vogue that everything should be free market. That is nonsense. Public streets are a socialist notion too, but does anyone think the streets and sidewalks should be privatived and every car and pedestrian forced to pay a toll to get anywhere?

The answer is in finding the right balance and the situations where the free market makes sense and those where government-provided services make sense. A lot of it has to do with whether the government providing solutions advances everyone's interests. Obviously, for example, fire protection is one where it does. If the houses of the poor all catch fire and are allowed to burn because they can't afford to rent the fire truck and crew, the fire will spread and everyone's house will burn down. One could make the same argument about disease.

Streets and sidewalks are public because the very process of living in a society depends on them. It's no accident that society and socialism start with the same four letters. Unfortunately, socialism is caught up in the minds of many as a euphemism for communism, which is itself something that has been ingrained in our consciousness as being associated with Stalinist and Maoist totalitarianism. But socialism is not totalitarianism. Liberty and freedom can be restricted just as much in a capitalist society. Consider the lot of the slave.

To get back then to the original queston of parking, there is a role for both government-provided services and the free market. The public has already paid for the streets. Yes market forces can help allocate parking to a degree, but it is not a ture free market system, nor sjoild it be. One of the basic problems with free market theory is that not all of life is, or should be, viewed as economic activity. By treating such noneconomic concerns as "externalities" and thus irrelevant, the theory has admitted it has no claim as a policy be all and end all. It may seem unlikely that parking prices under a free market system would ever reach levels that would become prohibitive, especially since they only are incurred by people who can afford a car to begin with, but I have seen parking at rates in excess of $40 (maybe not in Savannah, I don't know), and I have seen poor people driving cars that I doubt woild be worth much more than $200. At some point, parking, if entirely left to the free market, could easily become sufficiently prohibitive to impact high school and college students' educational activities and the participation of the poor in government affairs at meetings downtown.

That is not to deny the market its place, however. One example that I recently heard of that could be particularly useful in Savannah would be to encourage lodging businesses to make their parking available at lunchtime to the general public for a fee. Doing so would provide a particularly valuable use of the market's ability to provide additional wfficiency because lunchtime demand for parking coincides with the natural period between checkout and checkin when the parking for most lodging establishments is at its minimal use.

Posted by Julian Quattlebaum on 05/24/2017 at 3:23 PM

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