The Trouble with Tolls
Maryland, following Virginia's lead, auguring similar failures and inequities, is moving to put in toll lanes as it seeks to expand 270 to accommodate exurban commuters from Frederick County and further. At the same time, it is depreciating it's already depreciated commuter train service. Lexus lanes sound attractive until you study their full implications.
Lexus lanes are premised on notions that private monarchal government is somehow better than public government, “privateering” of public infrastructure. This false argument was setup in the 1880s and has been in operation since then. It is very lucrative for the Privateers, not so much for actual capitalists and workers. The results of privatization often look good in the immediate aftermath. But they rarely are sustained. This is because the capital and labor necessary to sustain private systems is often secondary in importance to profiteering.
Worse, the financial benefits of privatization are illusory for other reasons.
- The investment money is usually acquired by people, or their artificial person fictions, avoiding taxes on unearned income and often represents an opportunity cost of previous privatization.
- Investment money is often also from surpluses intended for other purposes, (derivative) and that will lead to short term spending rather than sane development. [Bubbles and Booms]
- Rental income is built into the investment. They will not invest unless they can guarantee rent from their investment. This means the profits are artificial and much higher than if the investment represented public investment.
- Ownership equals rule, and rule means that which a person owns, they can loot, junk or destroy. And so whether or not the new system is maintained solely relates to whether the new owners can extract maximum profits if they maintain it.
- Acquiring public services, where the customer has minimal or zero ability to find alternatives or refuse the products involved, usually leads to profiteering. Such as people using patent monopolies to jack up the price of insulin.
- Profiteering is built in. If a person owns the market, the tracks, the shop buildings, other infrastructure, they can live on rent from them.
- They will invest in markets and infrastructure that is lucrative, and neglect markets, i.e. neighborhoods that are short on credit.
- And since their income is derivative of our already privatized banking system, that means they will likely collapse when the economy turns.
- Privateering used to kill with broadsides, now it kills stochastically.
- Bridges collapse because they were cheaply built.
- Things manage to be costly and cheaply built at the same time.
- Bills don't get paid while the privateers walk off with the loot.
- Both inequality and inequity rise.
Those are the theoretical reason why Lexus lanes and similar privatization schemes fail. What is happening in Virginia illustrates how that plays out. Nothing like paying 60$ to use lexus lanes during rush hour times. They will claim they aren't price gouging. But does anyone believe them?