Entries Tagged 'Government' ↓

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 →

Bannon Is Gone – Or Is He?

On January 19th of this year, two days after the inauguration, among a small group of friends, I was talking about what was going on the in US. One of these friends was an immigrant who had fled to to America to escape a regime of terror that took the lives of her family members.

When I asked how she’d dealt with what was going on, she replied that she chose to not have a TV. We discussed American TV news, and I decided to refrain from watching news stations, including CSPAN for the week.

However, as a sports fan, I wasn’t about to give up watching games. Or for that matter travel shows or movies on TV.

So there I was on Direct TV late at night flipping through the channel guide in the under-100’s among our local stations to see what might be on.

There on PBS channel 32, KMPA, was a listing for “Classic Movies, Short Films”. I pushed the button to check what was playing—and found myself saying, “What the heck?”

The show opened with a small bunch of protesters trying to force their way into a small room full of people. A second later here were three guys in a room sitting around a table.

One tall thin older white guy on the left of the screen was clearly the moderator of the discussion. He seemed to be a Democrat.

The other two on the right were a youg short white guy and a young fat white guy, both in white shirts. One young guy was a libertarian; the other a conservative Republican.

They were discussing the topic that concerned me most this year—the repeal of Obamacare without an equivalent or better replacement. So I broke my vow not to watch news.

And then I noticed the banner across the bottom of the screen

“RT Left Wing Members of the Tea Party”

Mouth agape, I watched the same kind of media discussion that we’ve all watched on MSNBC, FOX and CNN, etc. But I was now looking at the Russian-government-financed TV station called RT (Russian Television). Continue reading →