If Government Shutdown Halts DC Parking Enforcement, That’ll Be Bad Just Like The Rest

Something about automobile parking seems to drive otherwise good people bonkers. For example, James Fallows amidst a sensible post about a government shutdown echoes a desire I’ve heard from a lot of people for DC to stop enforcing parking laws:

I have relatives who live in Saudi Arabia. A large group of high schoolers, including their son, from an international school in Riyadh is excited about their upcoming spring trip to Washington, which begins this weekend. For many it will be their first view of the United States. And they will find: Smithsonian museums closed. National Zoo closed. DC trash collectors furloughed. No parking-law enforcement (well, there’s a bright side). The kinds of things one associates with … the third world.

The case for enforcing parking laws is exactly the same as the case for enforcing all laws. Any individual driver might reasonably prefer a world in which he can get away with breaking the rules, but if you stop enforcing the rules then everyone is going to break them. That doesn’t ultimately help anyone. It seems to me that everyone would ultimately gain a lot of relief if we just faced up to the fact that space in crowded urban centers is finite and valuable, and therefore ought to be fairly expensive. Then we’d have less effort to allocate via rationing, and less temptation to break the rationing rules.