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OpenMarket: Marc Scribner

  • California: Leading the Way in Failure

    May 25, 2010

    As one might expect of California, successful transportation public-private partnerships (P3s) face many government hurdles. In the early 1990s, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) initiated three pilot P3 projects in Southern California and one in Northern California. Only two of the four went forward: State Route (SR) 91 Express Lanes in Orange County and SR-125 in San Diego County.

    The SR-91 toll lanes in Orange County were built in just over a year, with Caltrans estimating that they would have taken at least until 2001 to compete were the private sector not involved. A consortium of private investors secured a 35-year concession to operate the tollway, and the consortium financed the entire $135 million project...

  • The Increasing Role of Road Concessions

    May 21, 2010

  • D.C. Rail Fetishists Propose "Free" Trolleys

    May 6, 2010
    If you believe the "city of northern charm and southern efficiency" is geared solely toward imposing stupid, expensive directives on the rest of the country, think again--local D.C. government makes the feds look reasonable, measured, and intelligent in comparison. I mean, Marion Barry still serves on the city council.

    Washington is also a town home to more glassy-eyed rail fanatics per capita than any other. The Washington Metro, the rail transit system that was presumably designed to serve wealthy suburban condo owners, is a notorious fiscal black hole. But the Metro system is controlled by the...
  • ObamaRail: Great for Railfans, Bad for Transportation

    May 3, 2010
    In 2000, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment (the "Monorail Initiative") authorizing the creation of a high-speed intercity rail network. However, as the economy slowed down shortly thereafter, expected tax revenue never materialized, and further analysis painted a less-than-rosy picture of the long-term prospects for high-speed inter-modal rail, nearly two-thirds of voters opted to repeal the amendment's pro-rail language only a few years later.

    Enter President Obama, a guy who seems to have a "thing for trains." Not only did he stuff...
  • "A lie told often enough becomes the truth."

    April 22, 2010
    In [dis]honor of the 140th anniversary since pinko pin-up Vladimir Ilyich Lenin spawned, I'd like to present the Lenin Prize for the Reification of Destructive Ideologies to ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis. Ms. Lewis has taken a lot of heat since the ACORN-appearing-to-aid-and-abet-child-prostitution scandal broke, but remains incredibly committed to her organization--one based on a particularly vile and inane form of bureaucratic socialism. As the leader of a group...
  • The Private Provision of Surface Transportation Infrastructure in the United States

    April 20, 2010
    Private sector involvement in surface transportation infrastructure is not new. Public and private turnpikes—roads that require the payment of a toll for passage—have existed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.  In the United States, turnpikes enjoyed limited success in the 18th century into the 19th century, before being virtually eliminated at the beginning of the 20th century.  Renewed interest in tolls occurred just prior to the Second World War and continued until the passage of the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act in 1956.  Only in the last couple decades have toll roads again become politically palatable, with many taxpayers now preferring tolls to...
  • The Case Against Subsidized High-Speed Rail

    April 1, 2010
    President Obama's stimulus package set aside $8 billion in subsidies for high-speed rail projects in the United States (known as the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) Program). Vice President Biden, the administration's most vocal passenger rail supporter, apparently believes countries should be judged based on the amount of money their governments spend on infrastructure boondoggles.

    Amtrak has been a fiscal black hole since its creation, and these moves will likely exacerbate an already costly problem. Meanwhile, the intercity bus market has grown, with vibrant competition keeping fares low and improving the quality of service. Megabus, a subsidiary of the U.K.'s Stagecoach Group, launched in 2006 and now has routes...
  • The Social Evolution of Markets

    March 23, 2010
    Socialists and other collectivists frequently argue that markets are inherently "inhumane" and "unjust," among other things. Free-market advocates generally dismiss these claims on their face as inconsistent with reality and human nature. Collectivists then often respond by making ridiculous appeals to tribalism and defunct ancient societies. (ED: Why did these societies fail?) Repeat, repeat, repeat.

    A new study (subscription required) published in Science aims to shed light on this issue, and the authors come to a surprising (for some) conclusion: human society evolved to foster the sort of anonymous trust characterizing market interactions, and that this in turn enforces a standard of equity. Until about 10,000 years ago, human beings were organized in familial units or tribal societies where members...
  • Property Rights Under Siege

    March 9, 2010
    Since the Supreme Court's poorly-reasoned majority opinion in 2005's Kelo case, Americans have been aware of the grave threats facing their homes, businesses, and property. This awareness--while driving some meaningful reform--has unfortunately not translated into iron-clad property rights protections for most Americans. Municipal planners and rent-seeking private developers still engage in the back room ...
  • How I Was Not Al Gored Into Submission

    February 18, 2010
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