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Sunday, January 10, 2010


Capitalism kills...the planet

I've written about the mass transit death spiral before:
Mass transit is, quite obviously, an essential component in reducing not only global warming but also the depletion of the earth's resources. But in the U.S., mass transit is caught in a capitalist-inspired, profit-required death spiral - raise the rates to make a profit, ridership drops, raise the rates some more to make up for it, ridership drops, cut the number of trains or buses, thereby reducing the frequency and providing even less incentive to use it, ridership drops some more, continue until death.
Today's San Jose Mercury News alerts us to the fact that the death spiral is tightening, just as the need to deal with global climate change assumes an even higher priority:
From BART to Caltrain to the Valley Transportation Authority, every Bay Area transit agency has increased fares and reduced train and bus service to plug deep budget holes. But the changes have produced fewer riders and even less revenue — leading some to worry that the transit system has entered a death spiral.
Needless to say, the costs of properly funding mass transit pale in comparison to the costs of fighting war:
Without fundamental changes, these Bay Area transit agencies project a cumulative budget shortfall in 25 years of $8.5 billion, and a capital projects deficit of $17.2 billion.
Note how to make things sound worse, the author had to accumulate the budget shortfall over 25 (!) years; imagine if we were quoted military budgets that way! Put on a yearly basis, we're talking $1 billion total shortfall, money that the U.S. is spending on war in a fraction of a day, every day of the year.

On March 20, people will gather in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Los Angeles to say "No!" to this insanity. Yesterday in San Francisco, no fewer than 90 people representing several dozen organizations gathered to plan the event here, as an indication of the potential for this event. Spread the word! Off the computer and into the streets!

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