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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Uncomfortable bedfellows?

I mentioned Gabriel Roth and his early ideas on parking policy in a recent post (the one on requiring potential parking space rather than parking itself).

Citing Roth approvingly might alarm some readers who dislike neoliberal ideology (also known as 'economic rationalism', 'economic liberalism' or 'economic libertarianism' among others).

Parking for the Market.Roth was actually a key intellectual forerunner of Donald Shoup's thinking on parking. But it may be hard for some of you to think about this with an open mind since Roth was and is quite right-wing in his ideas on transport. He is better known for his later advocacy of public transport privatization and deregulation and for his ideas on private roads.

I don't share many of his views on those issues but I do think Roth's parking policy ideas were promising. Sadly they were largely ignored (as far as I know) until the recent upsurge in interest in Donald Shoup's proposals.

For anyone on the left of the political spectrum it may be very hard to keep an open mind to ideas that came from someone like Roth and were published by an outfit like the Institute of Economic Affairs, which is a UK 'free market' think tank. It played an important role in the rise of neoliberal policy ideas in the 1970s.

By the way, my Transport Reviews paper on parking (journal paywall version;  earlier pre-print version PDFexpressed surprise that a neoliberal thinker like Roth actually stopped short of advocating complete parking supply deregulation, as Shoup does.

I do hope you will keep an open mind to market-oriented thinking on parking regardless of your politics. After all, you have to be very far left these days to believe that markets have NO place at all in society. And you don't have to be right-wing to be open to the idea of using market-based policy tools, such as cap-and-trade for pollution problems. 

By the way, I wonder what Roth himself thinks of Donald Shoup's ideas? Does anyone know?