Le Plus Ca Change ..... ("The more things change...")
".... [under the British government's] Transport plan Motorists may have to pay to use roads according to how congested they are under proposals floated by the government. The transport secretary, Alistair Darling, told the Commons a national road-pricing scheme was not yet feasible. But he said local schemes could be viable and the Government would press ahead with examining this with councils..."
The issue of The Economist for Feb 18 to 24, 1989 had a cover of central London's traffic congestion with a big fat headline reading:
Make Them Pay.
There are various debates going on on babble on how the NDP should position itself in the next election. I think the above quote is an interesting policy example and also indicative of how social democrats seem to always adapt to changing ideological currents. Often enough they end up with the same positions other parties further to the right hold. Take Tony Bliar's government's plan of charging motorists for using the commons (i.e. the roads).
As an ecologically minded person I applaud measures leading to a decrease in automobile traffic in cities. As a person with concerns about social equity I have reservations about charging people to use the road. (I know to some extent that is happening already because of license fees and gas taxes. But the above scheme would do it explicitly.) Rich people will find it much easier to pay than the night janitor who needs his car to commute because there are no buses when he finishes work at 3 am. Corporate executives might use taxis and charge it to their expense accounts. Or corporate limousines.
So I have two questions to others here:
What do you make out of my contention that 'often enough social democrats ("the left"?) end up with right wing positions. Is it because of changing external circumstances? Is it 'opportunism', i.e. the desire to win votes? (I know charging for the use of roads isn't going to win anybody many votes but I am asking with respect to a more general picture.)
What's your position with respect to reducing car traffic in cities through such schemes (or others, such as getting people to use public transport more often)?
[ 21 July 2004: Message edited by: Sir George Williams ]