A dawn thing

Yes, yes, OK, we know, traffic tickets are to make sure that parking space is efficiently used. We get it. But then there are those other values and issues and Anzac Day is one of them.

For those who don’t know the celebration isn’t, as in our own Dear Land, at 11 am – 11.11 on 11/11. It’s at dawn on 25 April – the time of those landings at Gallipoli. Perhaps one over here shouldn’t quite put it this way but it’s one of the foundational myths of the two Dominions.

It’s important that is. And Perth had the traffic wardens out giving tickets to those who turned up:

The City of Perth says it will withdraw parking fines issued to hundreds of people who attended the Anzac Day dawn service in Kings Park on Wednesday, following a deluge of criticism.

Well, yes, would hope so.

“The parking opportunities around Kings Park were obviously quite difficult and to think at four o’clock in the morning people are going to be penalised, on such a day, quite frankly I think is disgraceful,” he said.

At which point the ignorance of what economists actually say might come into play. Which is that they know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Actually, that’s accountants, not economists. For to an economist value is what people value. And sure, if parking spaces are tight then one way to deal with it, an efficient way, is to charge for it then fine people who don’t cough up.

But there is, within economics at least, an agreement that efficiency isn’t the only value.

Attendees returning from the dawn service, which drew a crowd of more than 35,000, earlier this morning found tickets of $200 for parking “during a period prohibited by a sign”.

That greater value being to wave those great big hairy dangly bits at efficiency at such important times. To the point that if people were just abandoning cars in the middle of the street for 15 minutes well, too bad for those others who wish to use the streets.

No, this is not to say that efficiency should always be abandoned for some other value, nor is it to insist that attending Anzac Day is a sufficient economic reason to do so. What is a sufficient economic reason to do so depends upon the culture within which it is being done – if a culture has higher values than efficiency then so damn be it. It is the value the economist is interested in, not what the value is.

So, on to the important question. Those who scheduled the traffic wardens to be there issuing tickets. They will be hanged, won’t they? It is still true that, as at Gallipoli, the colonial cousins are suitably more robust than we are, isn’t it?