The Story of InterCity and Road Neutrality

Imagine, for just a moment, that I have a private road building company. My company is called, Edge Roads, Inc. Now imagine that my company builds most of the roads that the houses in the mythical city of InterCity connect to. My company builds Elm Street, Oak Street, Maple, and Primrose lane, etc. My company’s roads eventually connect to the bigger core city boulevards, the Sunsets, Sepulvedas, and Picos that have businesses on them. Businesses like the cleaners, the movie theaters, the restaurants, the libraries, the book stores, the museums, etc.

Now imagine that I charge you a monthly toll for using my roads.

No big deal.

Everything is going along fine, the toll isn’t so bad, everyone realizes that the roads have to be paid for. I’m making a crap load of money because you have to use my roads. You don’t have a choice. You can’t move your car out of the garage and choose a different road to drive on. There is NO CHOICE. It’s kind of the nature of the beast with roads. You can move to some other part of InterCity where some other company builds the roads, but that’s not likely to happen.

Still, everything is going great. The city is growing, new businesses are appearing on the boulevards all the time, some succeed, some fail, but generally, things are great. InterCity is going like gangbusters. Edge Roads is making money, everything is wonderful.

Meanwhile, some of those businesses out on the boulevard, that you drive over my roads to get to, are starting to do really, really well. I start to look upon those businesses with envious eyes. From my perspective, they’re reaping the benefits of my having built the roads that allow you to get to them.

I realize that I own them. I realize that I own them because I own YOU. If I cut off your access to them, I control how successful their businesses will be.

So I create a limit, a milage cap, on how often you can use my roads. If you use my roads too much to get out to the boulevards, I have the ability to charge you a fine and slow your car down. My excuse for doing this is that too many of you are using my roads at the same time to go to certain boulevard businesses, and in order to maintain the best driving experience for everyone, I have to create this scarcity of driving resources. The politicians of InterCity go along with it because I bought them off a long time ago.

This has the effect of causing you to choose which businesses you spend your milage cap on, which hurts other businesses on the boulevards.

I approach the largest businesses on the boulevard and tell them that if they wish to pay me extra, even more money than they’re already paying, I am willing to give them unfettered access to you. Cool huh!  I OWN THE ROADS!

Some of the larger businesses go for it because they know their smaller competitors can’t afford to pay me extra. So it’s a win/win for me and the larger businesses. Meanwhile, Samantha’s little innovative zero carbon footprint cleaners goes out of business. She never had a chance really, and no one notices that the giant GOOGLE-CLEAN cleaners just got a bit bigger.

Meanwhile I’m also working on my own versions of some of those businesses, and when I’m ready, I announce Edge Roads Movie Theater!

I also announce that when you drive to MY movie theater it doesn’t count against your milage cap. You can use my theater as much as you want. You pay me to use the theater, just like the InterCity theaters, but with my theater there is no milage cap. Use it as much as you like.

Now InterCity Flix, the best movie theater in InterCity, is starting to feel the pinch. People are wondering if they can stay in business when competing with someone who owns the roads and his own theater, and did I mention that while no one was looking I bought up a crap load of movies as well?

This is working out so great, I have plans for my own restaurants, cleaners, etc.

Then along come these busybodies who demand I practice something called “Road Neutrality.” According to them, I shouldn’t put milage caps on MY ROADS. I shouldn’t be able to slow you down if you use MY ROADS too much. I shouldn’t do anything that interferes with your access to InterCity Flix or any other boulevard business, or do anything that unfairly favors my movie theater.

Road Neutrality?

Why it’s COMMUNIST, I declare and demand all my paid off politicians smite the idea before it spreads! I have my shareholders declare the idea blasphemy!

I tell my paid off dumb ass politicians that should this Road Neutrality idea take hold, it will interfere with my ability to widen the roads to your homes to support more cars. If I can widen my roads, then I can get rid of milage caps.

The truth is I had no intention of widening my roads. I could have if I wanted to. Instead I’m busy buying up movie content and building my own movie theaters, and I haven’t even started my restaurants and cleaners yet. The paid off politicians in turn tell you that if Road Neutrality is adopted, boulevard businesses will go out of business and InterCity will crumble.

BWA ha ha ha ha ha ha!   Not only this, but I start cooperating with fellow road builders in other parts of the city and we collectively form a sort of road cartel, enforcing artificial scarcity to keep prices high, profits high, and steal business from the boulevard enterprises. We even buy up the smaller road builders to eliminate competition.

And you?

You just take it.

  1. Because it’s all too complicated for you to bother understanding
  2. What can you do? Can’t move. Politicians are paid off.

It doesn’t appear there is much that you can do.

Maybe, however, if you just listen to all the people telling you about Road Neutrality, you can ditch some of the paid off politicians and bring in politicians that understand the dynamics of InterCity and the harm that people like me are doing to you as well as business. You just have to wake up and start making noise about it.

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