Saturday, August 28, 2004
Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through
The most disturbing of the political controversies was undoubtedly the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich games by the Palestinian group Black September. The terrorists' violence was compounded by the speech given by International Olympics Committee head Avery Brundage. Brundage declared that the games would continue—a controversial if defensible position. But in saying that the games "must go on," Brundage, who had enjoyed a warm relationship with Adolf Hitler during the '36 Munich Games, refused to plainly mention the killings. Rather, he bemoaned the fact that the Olympics had suffered "two savage attacks," a euphemistic reference to the murders and a campaign underway to expel Rhodesia, then a white-supremacist nation, from participating in the games.
Howard Cosell had it right when he said there was a time for Avery Brundage, the time of William of Orange. The obvious tie-in with currently accepted weltanschung of course hit the rounds of e-mail jokes this week:
Israeli Gal Friedman has won the Gold Medal at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.It is the first ever Olympic Gold Medal for Israel.In response to this Zionist achievement, the United Nations is considering a resolution proposed by the Arabs and the Europeans, to condemn Israel for itsvictory, and to impose sanctions on Israel for occupying the most sought-after spot on the medal podium.
Turning back to the transportation rants so rudely interrupted a few days ago, I had occasion to utilize a couple of TBTA toll facilities yesterday and noted that tolls on said facilities had increased 1600% from the original peage. Needless to say, any thinking person can understand that unless some form of endowment or sinking fund was created during the original payoff period for the facility, there will be no financial means for supporting maintenance requirements (depending on handouts from the gummint is a crapshoot, but even with tolls there is no guarantee that the money will be used effectively, witness the ongoing subsidizing of the fareboxes by motorists, and the horrid condition of some of the toll facilities). One of the great maneuvers of Robert Moses was the way he crafted the enabling legislation for the bonds that initially paid for the bridges, tunnels and roads, in such a way that in theory the issuing authority could reissue bonds in perpetuity and nothing could be done about it because of the inability of courts to intervene in a bond covenant unless there was something patently illegal about the transaction. However, as anyone who's been caught at a toll plaza during rush hour or a weekend crunch can tell you even with electronic toll taking there is a huge impact to traffic flow, especially at places like the southern end of the Jersey Turnpike. They're working around this now with E-Z Pass transponders on gantries instead of in traditional tollbooths, thus permitting traffic to flow almost at speed (the nominal limit on the Garden State Parkway's through toll lanes is 35mph).
The problem is of course that thousands of cars don't have transponders, thus causing the clogs. A simple solution, so brilliant even a four year old could think of it, why not require getting a toll transponder if you're registering a car? Let us count the potential objectors to such a policy; privacy advocates - what information are you really giving up if there is a record that your transponder paid a toll at the George Washington Bridge at 8:02am on Sunday? The only people who might have something to be concerned about in that regard are people who are cheating on their spouses or going to Washington Heights to buy drugs. Some quote unquote activists may squawk about imposing an additional "tax" on motorists, but registration of a car is a privilege and not a right, and if you can afford car insurance and a car, you can certainly cough up another fifty simoleans for the tag and an initial deposit. Obviously it would take years to implement, but consider for example what the New York Thruway did at the Spring Valley tolls, demolishing most of the plaza and leaving truck lanes only at the very edge of the northbound plaza. Consider the implications for removing most of the tollbooths at various bridges and tunnels for improvement of traffic flow (although it could reasonably be argued from a security standpoint that there should be some checkpoint established to catch bad actors; this doesn't work in the case of one-way tolls, of course).