Joseph Thompson

[Reprinted from an undated pamphlet, Simple Talks on Taxation, published by the author]

... Did I see you put two dimes in that meter?
... Yeah. Twenty cents an hour.
... Twenty cents! Why everywhere else it's only a dime.
... Everywhere else except on these two blocks on Mainway Avenue and the first five parking places on each side of each side street.
... But, how come?
... Old man Sterling. In the early days of cars, he filed an application for a "park fee area" franchise. There was no competition. He told the supervisors it would "liquefy" - I remember he said it would "liquefy" traffic."
... Liquefy?
... Yeah. Keep it moving. Supervisor Collins laughed-all the Board thought he was crazy, so they said "Sure!" Someone said it oughtn't be for more than fifty years. That got another laugh! So they made it fifty years and Grady said it would look more legal if there was a fee, a license fee, so they tacked on a twenty dollar per annum license fee.
... That's all he pays?
... He didn't pay that for the first three years. He got them to give him three years to get started.
... So how come he gets twenty cents?
... Oh, there was no figure mentioned in the franchise.
... Well, I think that's a damn outrage!
... Nobody likes it much. Except old Sterling.
... Don't die merchants belly-ache?
... Sure. But what can they do?
... Can't they sue to have the franchise annulled?
... No. It's a "vested interest" now. Sterling claims it would be confiscation.
... Isn't he confiscating that extra dime?
... Oh, most folks don't see it that way. Besides, he's got a man, name of Withers, on the Board of Supervisors now, and he pretty near runs the Merchants Association.
... So they're not doing anything?
... The storekeepers on the franchise area? No. But Wiithers is. He says he's just waked up to the possibilities and he's started on a plan to license parking franchises, all over town, to private operators.
... On a percentage basis, I hope.
... Oh, sure. The town will get Ten per cent, but will subsidise any franchise holder who is losing money.
... Why?
... Why because the franchises, like Taxi licenses, will get so valuable, people'll pay thousands of dollars for 'em. Then they might lose money on their investment, so the city'll make it up.
... An' the City on'y gets ten per cent?
... Yeah. Withers says "let's be consistent."
... Meaning what?
... Why, he says "why not have the same policy on each side of the sidewalk"? So he's talking about making the franchises "in perpetuum," like the land titles across the sidewalk.
... If Withers calls that "waking up" he should-a stood in bed. It'll be hell on the public!
... I s'pose it might be tough.
... Right now, look at you and your twenty cents. Why don't all you fellers park outside old Sterling's franchise? He'd soon have to come down!
... And we walk, maybe six blocks! Are you crazy?
... It would seem so.