Sort of like lunch, there is no such thing as a free parking space. It costs us dollars or time.
Hoping to optimize so valuable a commodity, some cities are installing parking devices that use demand and supply to price spots. The approach resembles a variable pricing model where a good becomes more expensive when less is available. Others, concerned about the time we waste have apps that instantaneously identify empty parking spaces.
Now, we can add Parking Panda.
Like any market maker, Parking Panda pairs people with parking spots and those who need them. Anyone who has a parking spot can enroll. You might own an office building with a lot that is unused over the weekend or have a home with a driveway you would like to monetize. Whatever the reason, by enrolling with Parking Panda, someone looking for parking can find you.
Our bottom Line: Isn’t it fascinating how a market, with no direction from government, can satisfy people’s needs and make a community more efficient?
Sources and Resources: Thanks to Slate where I first learned about Parking Panda. Also, here is the classic Donald Shoup paper, ”The High Cost of Free Parking,” an econlife post on San Francisco parking solutions, and a recent NY Timesarticle on their progress.
Wyoming produces oil, it refines it, and, its taxes are among the lowest in the country. Also because of good location and less regulation, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Alaska have cheap gas.
By contrast, as a non-producer and high taxer, New York has relatively expensive gas. Sharing the #1 spot, California has high gas taxes while Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia and Michigan are close behind.
Here are some handy maps to see taxes, prices, and a list of producing states.
The Economic Lesson
Typically, when the world price of a commodity is higher than the domestic price, a country prefers to be an exporter. Using Brent Crude as a benchmark, the world price is higher than domestically produced West Texas Intermediate (WTI). However, logistics make exporting WTI at a competitive price relatively tough.
Today’s prices are approximately $125 for Brent and $105 for WTI. This explanation explains oil prices further and names other types including Nigerian Bonny Light and Algerian Saharan Blend.
An Economic Question: How might the price at the pump affect retail sales?
As a prospective buyer, Daily Show reporter Jason Jones went to check out the Arizona State Capitol Building when he heard it was for sale for $735 million. Once sold, the capitol would then be leased back to the state for $60 million a year. Why sell it? Because Arizona has a $3.4 billion budget gap.The problem, though, is that the solution is short term. It is a temporary fix that leaves all fundamental spending and revenue issues untouched.
Other states facing similar crises have devised equally short term solutions. Several are trying to sell prisons. Hawaii has shortened its school week. States have postponed paying workers until the fiscal year ends to avoid recording current spending.
New York’s Lieutenant Governor Ravitch, appointed by Governor Paterson to deal with his state’s budget crisis, explained that while cities can declare bankruptcy, states cannot. Consequently, states lack a “triggering event” that would force businesses, labor, and political groups to compromise.
The result is a graph that Ravitch calls a “jaws chart”. On a “jaws chart,” a line representing state revenue is rising very gradually while the line showing state spending is much steeper. The two together look like the shark in Jaws with his mouth open.
The Economic Lesson
There is a difference between a debt and a deficit. The debt refers to the total amount owed by the municipality or the federal government. The deficit is the amount by which spending exceeds revenues during one fiscal year.