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The Great Duct Tape Controversy

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

The 100th Portland Rose Festival has come and gone, but the great duct tape controversy lives on. The city is divided among those who think it’s legitimate to duct tape off your parade viewing spot days in advance, and those who think it should be first come, first served.

If sidewalks were owned by the adjacent home or business owners, this would not be an issue. But sidewalks are public property. They’re usually conflict free, but as parade day approaches, space along the four-mile route quickly becomes scarce. Too many of us want to occupy the same prime viewing spots. How do we resolve the inevitable conflicts?

We can fight for space, the strong pushing out the weak. We can rely on common courtesy. Or, we can turn to the law of supply and demand, which is all about the allocation of scarce resources.

One way to allocate those scarce parade spots would be for the city to authorize the sale of special Rose Parade duct tape at several dollars per foot. Buy your tape, mark your name on it, and reserve your spot. Proceeds could go to the Rose Festival Association.

If it’s worth your time to duct tape a space days before the parade, isn’t it worth a few dollars to ensure that the parade continues into the future?

Steve Buckstein is the Senior Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon-based think tank.

© 2007, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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