Fighting Gridlock: A Modest Proposal

The city government here in Gotham has been wringing its hands for some time now about how to reduce traffic congestion, which is indeed very bad. The suggestions that have been aired so far have generally taken the form of small-bore monetary disincentives: a fee for driving below 96th street during the week, tolls on the East River bridges, and so forth. These have been met, in each instance, with predictable opposition from whichever group is about to get its ox gored. For example, we Brooklynites were vociferously defended earlier today by our plucky and voluble champion, borough president Marty Markowitz, against a proposed eight-dollar toll on the Brooklyn Bridge, on the grounds that it would be blatantly discriminatory. (The logic may or may not be valid, but the passion was genuine.)

If I may, I think I have the answer. All that should be necessary is to take, quite at random, a dozen or so cars each week off the streets of Manhattan, give the drivers exactly sixty seconds to remove their belongings, and then crush the vehicles into compact lozenges of scrap metal. Under such a system there would be no burdensome tolls, and nary a whiff of discrimination. Given that far more cars must surely be destroyed each week by random events such as steam-pipe explosions, building collapses, helicopter mishaps, high-speed police chases, and drug-gang quarrels, the effect would be, for the most part, purely psychological. But I’ll bet after a month or two you’d be able to hop in your car on a Friday at lunchtime and drive river to river in two minutes flat.

If you’re lucky.

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