|Instead of rewarding
all citizens for carpooling to reduce congestion and pollution, the California
approach means affluent drivers can ignore those concerns, while others—referred
to lately as the 99%—must still carpool, or
face lengthy delays in the poor people’s lanes.
At airports, passengers with expensive tickets or elite status breeze through
TSA checkpoints, while others wait in lines that are often quite long. Like highways,
which are publicly owned and operated, airport security is a government operation
that supposedly guarantees equal rights for all. Why are airlines allowed to
sell premium customers the rights to faster government inspections?
Here’s some free advice for needy, greedy government agencies (although
for a fee, I’ll send any bureaucrat my Premium Column, which has my really
At public libraries, start selling gold and platinum cards in addition to
giving out the ordinary, free library cards. Elite readers can keep books for
twice as long as regular patrons, and get first crack at new titles when they
In public parks, set up Executive Lawn Space, where people pay a fee to romp
on the cleanest, greenest, carefully mowed grass, with Concierge Litter Removal.
Regular users can sit in the less desirable spots and dodge the dog droppings
at their own peril.
On public beaches, offer special areas for premium Beach Club members. For
a fee, members receive a sticker that entitles them to spread their blankets
in the best spots and be guaranteed a 10-foot spacing zone to keep away ordinary,
There’s no reason Washington can’t get in on this to solve its
money problems. Why not open a Red Carpet Club inside the Lincoln Memorial? How
about charging for the best burial spots at Arlington National Cemetery?
Of course, the private sector is way ahead of government when it comes to
segregating the classes. The best examples can be found at modern sports stadiums,
where paying a higher price for a good seat is no longer enough. Affluent fans
now park in better lots, enter separate gates, dine in different food areas,
and—best of all!—are physically barricaded in their sections so that
other fans can’t even walk through.
Is it any wonder that with construction of each new stadium, fan rowdiness
increases, causing even more segregation and thus more discontent?
Private business has the legitimate right to establish pricing by which customers
pay more to get more (although you have to wonder what sort of scrutiny regarding
fan fairness is being applied by municipalities when they authorize and help
finance sports facilities). But government is supposed to operate differently.
Highway lanes for the wealthy and speedy airport screening for the rich are
dangerous precedents. Politicians who truly oppose class warfare ought to stop
coming up with schemes that encourage it.
© Peter Funt. This column originally appeared in
The Wall Street Journal.