Looking for news of activism in America, I ran into a local news report on a protest planned for next Tuesday by a group called Stop the Pike Hike. These people are residents of the Boston area who are upset that tolls on local roads are being increased.
The plan for the protest is to point out just how essential these toll roads are to people, by having people take other roads instead, and congest traffic on local roads in the process. They think that they’re making a threat: If the toll authority increases tolls on roads and tunnels, then people will stop taking the toll roads, and then everyone will be sorry.
The thing is that the protest really lends support to the argument that tolls on the roads in question can be fairly increased. The idea that people are going to a great deal of extra time and trouble to express how important these roads are suggests that people will be wiling to pay the increased tolls.
Roads and tunnels are expensive to create and maintain. Somebody has to pay for them. All that the Stop The Pike Hike people are saying with their protest is that the roads they use are of great value, but someone else besides them ought to pay for them.
That’s not a principled protest. it’s just selfish. If the Stop The Pike Hike commuters really can’t afford to pay a little extra money for the use of their roads, they have some choices. They can stop commuting, and live closer to where they work. They can carpool, so that they can share the cost of fuel and tolls. They also might use mass transit, and use the time on a bus or train to get some extra reading or work done instead of just gripping a steering wheel, sitting all alone in their cars, listening to inane morning radio talk show hosts.