Log in

No account? Create an account
14 July 2009 @ 01:40 pm
Although, I know that flame wars don't advance a complex conversation at all, and yet it is so satisfying to see some idiotic nincompoop shredded to itty bitty pieces every now and then.

This moment of schadenfreude brought to me by comments on this extremely interesting post about congestion pricing and externalities in NYC.
I'm feeling: amusedamused
funner'n a sack a weaselsmoominmolly on July 14th, 2009 05:51 pm (UTC)
Holy shit that post is interesting.
ruthless compassion: happyaroraborealis on July 14th, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC)
Isn't it? I really love it when smart people think about this sort of thing in complex ways.
Blue Gargantuabluegargantua on July 14th, 2009 06:07 pm (UTC)

Reading this article, I could only think of the book The Pushcart War, wherein lowly pushcart owners must defend their lives and livelihood against massive traffic congestion caused mainly by trucks.

There's a traffic equation near the end of the book where they show that by cutting the number of trucks in half, congestion time is reduced by half. The truck makes two trips to make up the lost freight. One of the pushcart owners notes that if you keep cutting trucks back the congestion time continues to reduce and if you eliminated all the trucks there would be no congestion at all and everything would be delivered as soon as you wanted it. :)

David Policardpolicar on July 14th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the comments were fun.
And the article is very cool.
evolution, and some other stuffjacflash on July 14th, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
1. Felix -- whose regular beat intersects with my professional world -- is excellent. Even when he's wrong he's wrong in interesting, well-thought-out ways.

2. I started scrolling through the comments but stopped when I caught the first whiffs of Libertarian Disease (seeing "fundamentally immoral" and "government coercion" in the same sentence was enough, really.) :-)
Ashrising_moon on July 14th, 2009 08:29 pm (UTC)
I kept reading past jacflash and was pleased to hear the argument's complexities drawn out.

"Subsidizing public transport provides a host of benefits even for those not using the subsidy."

Substitute any number of public goods for "transport", like, say, "parks", "schools", "sidewalks", and "trees", and suddenly you've got an attractive community that interesting people want to live in. Sign me up.

Komanoff's spreadsheet is the BOMB.
Will O'the Wispwotw on July 14th, 2009 09:11 pm (UTC)
I haven't read the comments, but the main article seems at
least somewhat incoherent. On the one hand, his main point
is that prices should reflect costs; on the other hand, he
wants buses to be free. It's hard for me to imagine that the
marginal cost of a bus ride is zero.

Katefenicedautun on July 15th, 2009 02:10 pm (UTC)
I think his point is that if you make buses free enough people while charging congestion charges you can cause people to switch from driving to bussing, as well as saving time/manpower checking tickets. The marginal cost is not $0, but the cost is still less than having another car on the road.
Will O'the Wispwotw on July 15th, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
If you get the congestion charge right, you won't want to
distort the price of the bus. If he's *not* planning to get
the congestion charge right, then what's the point of all
those calculations?
Katefenicedautun on July 15th, 2009 02:27 pm (UTC)
But there's also the cost of having somebody/machines to check the tickets/issue the tickets/audit the tickets/etc. At that point, the cost of the bus might rise beyond the point that is socially acceptable (assume that bussing is a socially desirable mode of transport for any number of reasons). Therefore a price of $0 with lower costs may be more financially prudent than a cost of $0.50 or $1, but the economically correct cost (balancing supply and demand) may be $5, which is seen as suboptimal in terms of promoting bus usage.

[all numbers except $0 pulled entirely out of a hat for purpose of example]
Will O'the Wispwotw on July 15th, 2009 02:39 pm (UTC)
Ummm...This is exactly *why* the marginal cost of a bus ride
is unlikely to be zero. Surely if your goal is for prices
to reflect costs, then you'd want the costs of issuing
and checking tickets to be reflected in the bus price (just as
you'd want congestion costs to be reflected in the price
of driving). If your goal is *not* for prices to reflect
costs then I can't begin to imagine what all those numbers
are supposed to mean.
Katefenicedautun on July 15th, 2009 02:42 pm (UTC)
That's where I was saying that the marginal cost if the price was $0 might be $0.50 (obviously a contradiction, but work with me here), but the marginal cost if the price is above $0 is $5. The city finds a price of $5 to be unacceptable for social reasons, and finds it more acceptable to subsidise the $0.50 per person than to charge $5. Obviously not economically perfect, but politics and economics rarely meet.
Will O'the Wispwotw on July 15th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC)
Oh! Indeed! I missed your point entirely, which was that
if the price is zero dollars, we don't need to do all
that ticket-issuing and ticket-checking. Mea culpa for
not thinking before posting.
sarahshevettsarahshevett on July 15th, 2009 06:29 pm (UTC)
Love it when those who consider themselves "liberal" and are interested in "diversity" and "acceptance" and "tolerance" calls anyone whose views are different than theirs "nincompoops" and "idiots".

That's a liberal. Yep.