A blog about world events, history, politics, technology, music, movies, and sports as well as anything else I may enjoy writing about.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Why Congestion Pricing in NYC is Bullshit

On August 14th the federal government gave New York City $350 million to reduce traffic congestion with the stipulation that the city must try to alleviate congestion via some kind of pricing mechanism. Of course this was music to Mayor Mike Bloomberg's ears. He failed in July to get the necessary support of the state legislature to move forward with his congestion pricing system that is part of the wider plan to make New York City an environmental model for American cities in the 21st century. But, a few days later, the legislature said they would create a committee to look into Bloomberg's proposal. The overall goal of improving the environment of NYC is a noble one that I fully support. It is the means being used that I disagree with. Before I go into why I think this congestion plan is 1) unfair and 2) untenable for NYC, I'm going to speculate as to why I think Bloomberg is pushing this particular plan and why the government is funding him to encourage its creation. PlaNYC is part of an overall umbrella effort by environmental organizations to clean up cities across the United States. Bloomberg is quite possibly going to run for president in '08, and he certainly is and has been plotting out a campaign for some time now. Environmental groups have a large deal of political clout, and they continue to amass it at a rapid rate as global warming picks up momentum as a political and social priority in the US and the world. So what does all this mean? Bloomberg genuinely believes in taking action to clean up our environmental and stave off the effects of global warming, and for that I applaud him. But why is he so dead set on congestion pricing? Of the many actions that can be taken to alleviate the problem, why is this one his prize pony? The environmental groups are pushing him, that's why. They want NYC, the country's most populous and prosperous city, to get the ball rolling...in a hurry. There is no interest taken in whether or not this plan is the best solution for or is in the best interest of New York City; they just want it to happen here first so they can spread it throughout the country. Global warming is a problem which is already upon us, and the longer we wait to take action, the harder we will be struck by its effects. Therefore, environmental groups want to put any plan they believe will have great effect into motion immediately. Rather than testing this plan out in a smaller city, where it would be easier to conduct research, make predictions, and then measure how well those predictions pan out upon implementation, they are pushing it on the largest city in the country in a very short time frame. Not only that, but Bloomberg tried to pass it through legislature in just a couple of months without even providing any substantial statistical predictions on what this would do to the amount of congestion or the economy of the city. While the impetus of global warming is extremely powerful and action is needed now, we still must do proper planning and not lose our heads. Rather than hastily putting a pilot project in effect in New York City, why not 1) do a thorough study of what all of its effects are likely to be on the city? and 2) put it in place in a smaller city first? Putting enormous pressure on Bloomberg, who at this point I'm officially saying is in the pocket of the new enormity "Big Enviro", may get your plan enacted and into the national spotlight quicker, but have you thought about the potential downfall of this strategy? What if, due to inadequate research and planning, this system falls flat on its face in New York? Then congestion pricing as a nationwide solution is fucked. Even if it could have worked elsewhere in the country, which I certainly believe is possible, you won't ever get another chance because once it fails in New York, and the whole country knows because you made sure everyone was watching, it will be political suicide for any American politician to utter the words "congestion pricing."


Friday, August 17, 2007

Mission Statement

I want to work hard, gain knowledge, inform people, and have my voice heard. Since graduating with a BS in computer science in December '02 I have had seven jobs and have only stayed at one longer than six months: poker player (year and a half). I went through a six week .NET bootcamp curriculum at the end of '03 and got the highest level of certification for a .NET programmer (MCAD/MCSD) a few weeks later. As far as I'm concerned, all of this is an aggregate sunk cost. I certainly learned about the world and myself from these experiences, but I don't plan to build upon this jagged path; I am bidding it farewell and charting a new course. Maybe I could change the world within the corporate business environment if I'd just ease up on my convictions for five minutes, but that's never going to happen. I just busted my ass for the last year at two separate jobs getting myself out of debt and building enough savings so that I can earn a living my own way. If the content I put up on this blog is consistently worthwhile, I will gain an audience and be able to pay my bills via the page ads. I will attempt to accomplish this end until I succeed or all of my money is gone. And if the latter should happen, I will go out and get another job, save up, and get right back at making my own way again. I'll repeat this as many times as necessary until I succeed...or die. I hope that you have found or will find incitement and/or useful information on this blog. Thank you for reading.