Parking Meters and the Purpose of Government


On GoLocalProv, Kate Nagle conveys the concern of Providence retailers that expanded parking meter usage is driving them out of business:

“When the parking meters were installed, it became a real deterrent for my customers to shop in my area. They would much rather go to University Plaza or Providence Place Mall, where they could easily find parking [than] to battle on-street parking on Thayer and Waterman,” wrote [Donald Sommers with Advanced Communications Technologies who was a Verizon Premium Retailer]. “Then, to throw salt in the wound, they made the metered parking ridiculously difficult to figure out, which ultimately led to the downfall of my business. On a daily basis we would get people poking their head in the door just to ask how and where they would be able to get the ticket for their dashboard! When we initially moved in, we were doing approximately 65-75 phones a month. In the next couple of years we grew the business to between 150-175 phones a month but today, I’m lucky to see 50 phones a month with nothing else to attribute the loss in sales but what the customers are saying about the metered parking.”

Tellingly, not only do the meters appear to be harming businesses, but the city is effectively offloading its customer service onto those same businesses.  Of course, I use the term “customer service” in a tongue-in-cheek way.  One of the comments to Nagle’s article gets to a key point, writing that the “cradle to grave demands” of “unionized workers” still “don’t grow on trees.”  Who is serving whom?

Politicians in the state like to talk about creating jobs and having a vibrant economy, but their actions and priorities don’t match their words.  Economic development, to them, is using taxpayer dollars like a special-interest payout to lure businesses that are willing to work within the state’s fundamentally corrupt civic society.  That’s because the real first priority of Rhode Island is now the maintenance of government, its welfare clients, and its employees.

Parking meters, tolls, small-scale summer rental taxes… whatever.  The objective is to find ways to take more money from you and give a growing number of government agents more power and resources.