Entries Tagged 'Economics and Investing' ↓

An Equitable Regional Public Transportation

Back when I lived in Spartanburg South Carolina in the seventies, I shared a car with my husband. One nice day while he was at work, I decided to go downtown to shop for clothes.

I walked the eight blocks downtown in the morning and bought some clothes. When I took them to the counter to pay, I was refused a credit card by the biggest department store in town unless my husband signed for it.

Disgusted by the store policy and reluctant to walk home in 100 degree heat, I boarded a bus.

The bus started by going in the opposite direction away from our apartment. As we wound for a hour through the outlying suburban areas the bus eventually filled up with African-American men and women. I looked around – startled to realize I was the only white person on the bus.

Spartanburg’s public transit served only black maids and gardeners hired by wealthy white people. Given this purpose it was the most efficient public transit system I’ve ever ridden.

All each worker had to do was walk straight out of their employer’s house or yard to the street where the bus stopped to pick each one up and drop them off in front of their home. However, it didn’t serve me, a consumer. because it took me an hour to get six blocks to my home.

Most urban public transit systems in this country aren’t equitable. They primarily exist to serve workers who don’t want to drive long distances or hunt for parking spaces, students, and poorer people. Continue reading →

Gas Taxes – Held Up Without a Gun

A decade or so ago, the hue and cry over SUVs (“urban assault vehicles”) finally forced Ford and other auto companies who buried their patents for electric vehicles in their vaults in the early 20th century to pull them out.

Competition from foreign electric vehicle makers impelled American automakers to start manufacturing hybrid and electric vehicles. Now there are even hybrid buses on city streets.

But while this trend may reduce greenhouse gases and global warming, what about more obvious problems related to cars, such as traffic congestion, accidents, and the disparate gas tax-rate impact on different socio-economic groups of Americans?

Let’s start with federal gasoline taxes

In 2015 The [San Jose] Mercury News wrote that in California, the lead state in creating lower pollution vehicles, that about 85 percent of federal gas tax goes to highways and 15 percent percent for public transit.

The state got around $5 billion and spent 57 percent on highways, 36 percent on roads, and 7 percent on public transportation.

Nevertheless potholes are the number one problem in this rainy season state. The cost in blown tires, suspension systems and our backs to car owners comes out of our own pockets.

In addition, government subsidies out of local and federal taxpayer monies go to businesses such as Whole Foods when they do not pay employees enough to be able to live near the place where they work.

This impels workers to commute (currently in older gas powered vehicles) long distances—up to as many as two or more hours each way to get to work.

Not only do these long commutes by more and more cars create more pollution, they also tear up highways and streets. And each year traffic congestion grows worse.

The Mercury News even advised long-distance commuters to avoid the slow lanes on federal Highway 580 where “trucks have chewed up the freeway”. Continue reading →

Fire and Water—How Can We Cope?

Sitting outside on the back patio of my condo in late October, shivering under the weight of two sweaters and a jacket trying to finish work for a client on my computer, in the waning afternoon on a Friday I decided I had to leave the home I’d saved years to buy.

My partner and I had been sleeping on floors and mattresses of friends and family, housesitting, and finally tent camping in the East Bay California hills.

In the campground where we slept each night after finishing work at home, trees grew more barren and the ground grew colder. Each morning, car after car pulled out of the park, leaving only a caravan of gypsies, and two men in a truck who arrived at two a.m. every night after work to sleep for a few hours.

There was no alternative left. I called our homeowner insurance company and let them know we wanted to take them up on their offer of three months rent for a temporary place to live. I was quickly issued a bank card at Wells Fargo bank to use for expenses. Continue reading →