Friday, March 24, 2006

The Road to Hell -- or is it From Hell?

(63) The Road To Hell

There was a little problem on the Jersey Turnpike the other year. That was about cops who routinely stopped Black and Hispanic drivers in nice cars, figuring they had to be drug runners.

Sometimes they were and sometimes they weren’t. But the head of the cops got up and said something like “well, we do that because these are the people who run most of the drugs.”

He lost his job the next day.

“Driving while Black,” or Hispanic or whatever.

The practice, of course, hasn’t stopped. It’s just gone a little more subtle.

But leave it to the free market to solve the problem, and it looks like it has.

They’re about to privatize the ‘pike.

Yes, they want to sell off part of the road or the running of the road or somesuch to private industry.

One of two things will result: either the private cops who will patrol the newly-private highway will decline to stop minorities suspected of drug running out of fear of lawsuits and EEOC violations, or they will have a separate but equal lane for all such drivers. Private road, after all.

Of course, the REAL drug runners are a few steps ahead of both the cops and the road segregationists.

Ask yourself this: if you were a cocaine exporter from, say, Colombia or Mexico or Lithuania, would you use local young men and women in Beemers as mules?

You’d have to be an idiot.

You’d use two kinds of older people. Who would suspect a business type, riding in the back of a Bentley or a couple of blue haired women driving a K-car?

You might even use a couple of guys in suits driving a Crown Victoria bristling with antennas. No cop’s going to stop a couple of other cops in a black four-door Ford with mesh grating between the driver and the back seat.

Back to Pike Privatizing for a moment.

What do you suppose they are going to call the newly acquired road? If the naming rights to stadiums and the naming of merged or acquired companies is any indication, you’ll likely find Route 95 will become Northrop New Jersey Turnpike. The Time-Warner Turnpike? The Altria Turnpike? The Pfizer Pike (It IS New Jersey, afterall.)

The new owners could make even more money by selling naming rights to the rest stops and other parts of the road. The Ortho Overpass. The Nets Scenic Overlook. The ExxonMobil rest stop.

Then, there’s a question of the speed limit. Most of the road, it’s 55. Some spots, 65. But why have a speed limit? After all, private property. Owners can do what they want on it.

A free market in velocity. What a concept.

Just be careful of those blue haired women drug runners in K Cars. Heavy footed on the accelerator, and they don’t see so well.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

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