All of our previous posts have been staid and fact-based.  But this analogy came to my attention and I could not resist resorting to satire.

Today at the Chamber of Commerce meeting, we learned the advantages of HOT lanes:
1) The public-private partnership (P3) model makes use of private financing and therefore minimizes public investment.
2) The P3 approach accelerates implementation.  If we had to wait for the normal public approach, it could take as long as twenty years before anything is built.
3) The managed lane concept, utilizing congestion pricing, ensures at least one lane will remain congestion-free for the life of the contract.  Even if the general purpose lanes become more congested, the HOT lanes will never become congested.
4) HOT lanes offer motorists an option for those who wish to pay to avoid congestion.

While wideni77 disagrees these are advantages at all (and with the validity of #2 in general), let’s set that aside for a moment and say, for sake of argument, we do agree.  And further, let’s say we’re so enthusiastic that we think this is a good approach to governance in general.  In fact, let’s go so far as to say we should use this approach for other critical public services… like education.

So class is now in session. The narrative goes like this:

Our schools are congested.  And even though they’ve been congested for years and we haven’t built a new school in decades and our region has a growth rate rivaling something you’d find in a petri dish, we just don’t have the money to build new schools.  We’re told, sadly but firmly, we’re not going to have any money for another twenty years.  But we have this great new idea to solve the whole problem: we’ll partner with a private company to build/finance/operate a new school.  We’ll call it P3HS.

We’d have language in the contract to make sure P3HS meets all the applicable standards for curriculum and safety and free lunches and girl’s lacrosse.  In fact, it would look just like any other public school but with one big difference: we’re going to limit enrollment so it never gets overcrowded.

How are we going to do this? We’ll charge a tuition, that’s how.  Remember, it’s a tuition- not a tax- because you can keep your kid in the gulag school for free.  And to make sure P3HS never ever becomes overcrowded, we’ll tweak that tuition based on how crammed the old school is.

We’ll use those tuition dollars to pay for the school and give the private company a little something in return for their trouble.

There’s a number of advantages to this approach vs just building a regular old school.

First, by using all that private money, we’re not going to have to put up many taxpayer dollars. Instead we can use that tax money for more important things like a $750M bridge to the Outer Banks or a $1B highway from Durham to Holly Springs.

Second, because we won’t have to wait for CMS to get around to it, P3HS will be built a whole lot sooner. How cool is that?

Third, because we’ll limit enrollment, P3HS will never be overcrowded. We’ll always have at least one school that remains congestion-free.  You see, if we had good free schools that might make folks want to move here and then the free schools would quickly get crowded all over again.

Fourth, P3HS offers a choice to parents who don’t want their kids going to a jam-packed madhouse.

And we’ll throw in a bonus advantage: P3HS will be good for attracting business to the region because those executives can drop off their kids before they hop on the HOT lane to the airport.

Okay, show of hands: all in favor?

Class dismissed.

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