Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Road to Serfdom Includes the GW Bridge?

Apparently it does. Here's the scoop. The Port Authority of New York operates the George Washington bridge and Lincoln Tunnel. Its executives are very well compensated.

Many top executives at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are getting thousands of dollars in bonuses on top of six-figure salaries.

The Herald News reported the bonus plan on Tuesday. It discovered that 44 of the agency's top 100 executives made considerably more than their annual salaries in each of the last two fiscal years by getting bonuses, mostly for longevity pay and unused vacation time.

Meanwhile, commuters chafe at the $12 they pay for each trip into Manhattan. There is a loophole of course, traveling with three or more passengers in the vehicle qualifies for a $6 discount. Enter free market economics, riders and passengers are hooking up to reduce the costs of crossing. The passengers get a free ride into Manhattan and the drivers get a discount. Our love story would end there, except for the fact that this particular bridge is part of The Road to Serfdom. Enter the Port Authority and the police. From the WSJ:

. . .cat-and-mouse game being played out at the nearby George Washington Bridge leading into Manhattan. Carpoolers hoping to catch a ride were being intercepted by police—even though ride-sharing, as in other cities, is a legal way to save money. . . .
A common carpooler complaint is that the police only target vehicles picking up passengers—not those dropping them at the bus stop or even those picking up people in the non-toll-paying direction. Though Mr. Della Fave denies that is the case, Mr. Topyan says his research—consisting of hundreds of hours of observation—seems to confirm the practice.
. . .
But to those without the time or energy to walk, the crackdown on carpools smacks of a revenue-grab by the Port Authority, which has been criticized for lavish pay and benefits. With extensive overtime, some toll collectors make more than $100,000, while salaries for several officers working at the bridge topped $200,000 last year.
. . .
"In order to pad their pensions and lifestyle, they're taking bread out of our children's mouths," says Ms. Javier.

Indeed. In summary, an out of control bureaucracy is using the police to enforce revenue grabbing measures against law abiding citizens. This is the road to serfdom. Want to avoid paying a fee by legal means? The police will be stopping you, my friend. Wealthy and young, and just want to pay cash for your health care? You'll be paying a fine. Ask for the address of an EPA official? It turns out the EPA has agents with guns who will pay you a visit. (Why does the EPA need agents with guns, can't they use the FBI for such an occasion?)

And of course there are the green police:

In a growing number of cities across the U.S., local governments are placing computer chips in recycling bins to collect data on refuse disposal, and then fining residents who don't participate in recycling efforts and forcing others into educational programs meant to instill respect for the environment.

At least one man fought back.

Curious to see what would happen, Mr. Topyan recently picked up two passengers in plain sight of a police officer—and was promptly ticketed. Having researched the law, he spent six hours in traffic court and won his case.

"The prosecutor was jumping up and down in disbelief," he says. He didn't have to pay.



  1. As nuts as we are here in California, I thank God I don't live in New York.

  2. isn't this practice of targeting a specific group of people profiling?

    first, they will put chips in your trashcan. next thing you know, they'll have paid government workers rooting through your trash and issue citations for any perceived infraction OWAIT

  3. In California we have parking meters that reset when you leave, call the police immediate if your time expires, and you cannot "add time" in some instances. It is all about the money.

    See downtown La Mesa, CA. Recently Long Beach, I think, estimaated that these parking meters generate $1.7 million per year. Most of the revenue from people illegally parking elsewhere to escape the scam.