Saturday, May 28, 2005

Some Vignettes from Northern Virginia

I have been in the DC area for nearly a week. Giving lectures and talks here and here. Very interesting.

Some vignettes, asides:

1. Cheesy Chinese restaurant, buffet, full of fat gringos stuffing themselves with fried meat in cheap sweet sauce. All the wait staff is Latino. Next door is Korean restaurant, no gringos anywhere, no one speaks English, menu printed in Korean with tiny, ungrammatical, and largely incomprehensible English descriptions. I ate at the Korean place, of course, and took two other entrees back for the next night (I had a fridge in the room). One was a stew, Tyler warned me not to, but...I got lucky, and it was fantastic. Amazing that those two restaurants can exist literally side by side in strip mall.

2. Vienna Metro stop: I try to use mass transit, and be a good worker bee. Come the Revolution, we'll all get to be shining, happy people and live in metal boxes and take trains to our environmentally friendly workplaces. But you can't take the Metro at Vienna if you get there at 10 am on a weeday. The reason is that....there is nowhere to park. Now, the parking problem is not that hard to solve: charge more. It costs just $3.50 to park ALL DAY. And all the spaces are filled by 9 a.m. Why not another lot, or parking deck, that charges $10, or whatever it takes? I asked one of the attendants why they didn't charge more. He said, "We want people to use the Metro!" I say, there is no where to park, that means I can't use the Metro, and I have to drive my car into the city. "Get here earlier", he said. No, the point is not ME, it is that you need to have some short-term parking, at a high enough price that there are open spaces. You need to have...."Just get here earlier!" he said. And, of course, he has a point: Vienna is zoned so that no private company could open a new parking garage, even though it would be profitable and socially useful to do so. So, as far as this employee of the nanny state was concerned, I should just go fuck myself. They were providing subsidized parking, and we taxpayers should be grateful.

3. Gordon Tullock was completely undone by seeing me. "You have long hair, which means you are a liberal. But you carry an umbrella, and a small black umbrella at that. You must be a conservative. Just what ARE you?" My hair really bugged him. It is odd looking. Grad students at Public Choice Outreach conference were tremendous. What a terrific program.