Friday, December 05, 2008

Pike Privatization: Bad Idea All Around

Globe says go slow on pike privatization; I say go no where at all. Let's be honest: there's only two reasons why the government would want to privatize. First, they know whoever will buy it won't care about its employees, paying them less and probably reducing services by paying for as little on the roads as possible.

Second, and more important, it's a way to pass off the buck. $10 or $15 tunnel tolls? That's not the government's fault - it's those pesky people operating the tolls. Those dastardly people! Beacon Hill didn't intend for them to do that at all! Yeah, right. Oh - and when the roads are in crappy condition because private companies will be cutting all those costs? Not Beacon Hill's fault, either.

Let's get real. We need roads that work. That do what they're supposed to do. The people that tend to them should be paid well, or we risk having roads that are even in worse condition. Furthermore, since roads are a public good, we ought to have a public agency in charge of it so we have at least somewhere to go for redress when something's fracked up. A private agency is no better equipped to deal with roads than the government is; indeed, the Globe notes that there are plenty of obstacles that make running private toll companies less efficient than the government.

No, the solution isn't privatization of the roads. That's a deal we'll regret a few years from now for more than the rest of my life, and I'll be kicking around for another 60-70 years (with any luck, anyway). All for some upfront chump change? What is this, one of those cash-in commercials targeted toward law suit winners? We didn't get hit by a bus and we don't need to find the nearest ambulance chaser. That's no way to run our government.

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