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Re: [NewMobilityCafe] transport and equity

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  • Pascal van den Noort
    Social democracy well defined, Simon. Equity, or social justice, is for me a force that seeks balance with economic development and environmental sanity in
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 22, 2012
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      Social democracy well defined, Simon.

      Equity, or social justice, is for me a force that seeks balance with economic development and environmental sanity in order to reach sustainability.

      Still a balance not reached, not in mobility, not in housing nor in ennergy provision.

      Long way to go.

      Pascal J.W. van den Noort
      Executive Director 
      Velo Mondial, A Micro Multi-National

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      On 22 feb. 2012, at 23:50, Simon Norton wrote:


      As Gabriel wants us to define what we mean by equity, let me say what I think I

      I think that there is confusion between two different (though related) concepts,
      which I'd call equity and equality. Both are valid and important.

      The latter means that one should try to minimise differences in wealth. I won't
      go into this in detail here, but the reason should be obvious: as people give
      greater priority to spending on their more urgent needs, a unit of currency in
      the hands of a poor person has greater value in terms of welfare than the same
      in the hands of a wealthy person.

      The former I regard as almost synonymous with justice, saying that people should
      not be penalised for extraneous reasons. For example, nowadays the use of
      toilets is mostly segregated by sex; if men can go free but women have to pay,
      or vice versa, that is inequitable.

      The rationale for a market system is that when people have freedom of choice it
      drives down prices (or drives up quality) for the benefit of all. However I
      believe that the system is being abused when the benefits do not in fact reach
      everybody but are confined to those people who have a choice. An exmaple is when
      a transnational corporation gets tax benefits by threatening to switch its
      operations to another country. Another is when people who don't have access to
      some types of payment facilities ending up paying higher prices for utilities.

      Transport is a particularly rich source of departures from equity as people
      without access to cars have fewer choices than those with access to cars. Here
      are some examples of inequity:

      1. Superstores at places which are hard to reach except by car charge lower
      prices. Especially when the lower prices are not related to lower costs (or
      where the price discrepancy is greater than can be accounted for that way) but
      are set so as to attract motorists from other shopping outlets. By contrast
      prices at conveniently located stores are kept high because most of their
      customers can't easily take their custom elsewhere.

      2. Park & Ride buses charge lower fares than conventional buses -- and in some
      cases may be subsidised in ways which the latter aren't. Effectively, instead of
      taxing motorists for the damage their vehicles do to central areas (see below),
      one is bribing them not to bring their cars in.

      3. Motorists get away without paying the full external costs of driving --
      including congestion, pollution, danger and deterrence to walking and cycling,
      and abstraction of revenue from public transport.

      The reason for the last may not be obvious, but it is linked to an idea I
      expressed in a recent posting on which I will now expand. Education is a basic
      human right (Article 26 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights
      <http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr>) and everyone should therefore share an
      obligation to help uphold a public education system whether or not they choose
      to use it. Well the same applies to mobility (Article 13), and Article 2 bars
      discrimination on the basis of "property", which should surely include access to
      a car.

      Simon Norton

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