Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Orange Pillars of Inefficiency

So today the state of Virginia, my home state, has shut down 18 highway rest stops across the state.  Apparently, each dump of a rest stop costs 500,000 dollars to operate annually.  I have to say, that is one well-paid janitor and landscaper per site.

If you have never been to our wonderful rest stops, you will be glad to know that they are subpar when compared with New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.  In all likelihood, though, this is probably because we do not have that many toll roads in comparison to those states, where every time you cross a bridge on I-95, you pay a toll (except the Wilson Bridge, but that is half in Virginia).  All those tolls go to the overpaid cashiers who collect the money (on the PA turnpike, they make $23/hr plus medical and dental) and to the various rest stops you find in your travels.

Congressman Frank Wolf was apparently very upset to learn that these gay bathhouses and overcrowded truck stops were closing.  I mean, after all the stimulus money he allocated to his district and then voted against it, you would think that the one on I-66 near Manassas, my home town, would remain open.

Sarcasm aside, I am a little surprised that my state did not have the good sense to just sell off those rest stops to developers and franchise owners.  The business potential in those locations is awesome.  Auctioning off those sites for development would boost the local economy, create jobs, give some money back to the state, and allow them to remain open and operate without wasting half-a-million of Virginia taxpayer dollars per stop.

But no one really considers the free market solution anymore.  So the orange pillars that will block off the rest stops will serve as a kind of gateway to the decaying temple of government incompetence.

I am going to have a talk with an acquaintance of mine who happens to be a state delegate.  He may have further insight into this mess.  But I suspect that the thought never had crossed the minds of those legislatures.  Free market solutions from government only happen when a company bribes a politician these days.  Then again, it has been that way for centuries, so why should I expect it to change now?