Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Pay the Boatman

Attack the outsider — the first resort of the unarmed arguer.

My Townhall column praising Washington State anti-tax activist Tim Eyman raised the ire of Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat. He insinuates that it’s easy for me to like Eyman, for I never need to “catch the late boat after a Mariners game,” since I live in Virginia and Eyman’s initiatives affect the Evergreen State’s ferries.

Westneat complains that a voter-approved Eyman measure reducing car taxes took away the main source of subsidy (he doesn’t use that word) for Puget Sound’s ferry system. Turning common-sense responsibility on its head, he writes, “instead of levying a tax across a broad group (all car owners), as we did pre-Eyman to help pay for ferries, the costs now are increasingly heaped on a narrow group — the ferry riders themselves.”

Horrors! People paying for what they use!

Westneat seems to be into financial irresponsibility. “Yes, [the system] wastes money sometimes. What big organization doesn’t?” Nice dismissal of the incompetence and corruption in a state-run biz that cannot even account for its cash.

When the ferries were taken over from private business by the state, it was, he says, because of the previous owners’ “usurious 30-percent fare hikes.” Not mentioned? This followed the cessation of Seattle’s wartime shipworks, and a huge decrease in demand.

Some folks sure apply basic economic insights selectively. Dispersing costs, concentrating benefits? That they idolize. Economies of scale? Their arguments run aground.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Drik says:

    Warped since of the function of government.
    “Public utility” has become a euphamism for one group of people using the threat of force to force another group of people, who would otherwise not be inclined, to pay for things that they do not use.

  2. Susan says:

    I would not mind paying high tolls for the ferry if highway users across the state of Washington were charged in the same way for the highways they use. I do not drive on roads in Eastern WA and yet, based upon the argument presented above, am ‘forced’ to pay for their upkeep. Those of us who are ferry dependent understand that ferry routes are marine highways and should be treated just like any other highway in the state.

  3. Bob says:

    this sort of warped thinking is Typical in Wash St. The power elite believe that everybody but them is an ignoramous, so the public shouldn’t vote on issues but accept what they are told to accept. Wash St is an extremely liberal state, but we did vote for them, and we are getting what we voted for, so we must want it this way.

  4. MoreFreedom says:

    Drik – you’re right. Government is more and more being used by people to live off of others.

    Susan – you’re wrong. It’s not unreasonable to treat all roads in the state, and fund them via taxes (typically gas taxes since that’s tied to road use). You may not use roads in eastern WA, but you disproportionally use roads in western WA compared to their upkeep.

    Ferries are much more expensive to fund and operate than roads. The charge for their use should reflect their costs. Jacob is right – people should pay for what they use.

  5. Jonnie says:

    Holy Toledo, so glad I ccliekd on this site first!

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