Pay more, get less, be happy

May 8, 2010

Taxes and fees are rising while services are declining, dwindling and diminishing.  Is this a good deal for any of us?  Some one will have to explain this to me as if I am a child because while I understand what is happening, and what seems inevitable, I am at a loss to comprehend how some people are trying to spin this as a positive thing in our lives?

Recently Colorado Springs announced it might turn off one-third of all its street lights to save money.  I guess this is the same logic that Toyota used in determining it would be less costly to hide defects in lieu of announcing a recall, with all that inevitable negative  publicity and notoriety.  I think that’s called calculated risk – what a few law suits would cost when weighed against the harsh negative glare.

So Colorado Springs may darken some lights… I guess the first fender bender or trip and fall will be less expensive than providing the public with the amount of light that was once determined to be in the public good.

There was an article recently in The New York Times that subway ridership was down but the cost of running the trains was rising, so the transit agency spokesmen explained fewer riders will have to pay higher fares for the privilege of using the service.  And there was a story in the San Francisco Chronicle that Bay Area transit agencies were so bloated with executive’s high salaries that they will never have sufficient ridership to pay that burden.  Instead they are cutting routes and decreasing service frequency, presumably creating a hardship for the riders, but no where in the article was there any indication the agencies were grappling with the inherent, underlying problem.

I guess their calculated risk is that no one will come to the transit agency offices with the intent of storming the gates and tar and feathering executives and those responsible.

We lost a lot when tar and feathering went out of style… just imagine…

Look – I admit I do not pretend to have the answer.  I see all this as a conundrum.  I see the coverage of these stories as little illustrations if fruitless dialogue.  The public certainly and justifiably feels screwed just as agencies and governments retreat behind barricades and bromides offering defensive assertions that mega salaries are required to assure they have best and brightest management.  The best and brightest – and this is what they have given us?  Yet another conundrum.
The over arching system feels rotted.  The supporting assumptions and beliefs seem brittle and broken.   Let’s call it for what it is – the system is broken and until those in charge step up and admit the changes required are more difficult (and personal) than simply raising taxes and fees while cutting services we will have little meaningful resolution.

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2 Responses to “Pay more, get less, be happy”

  1. Sharon Stevenson Says:

    But, mah dear Peter, you’re complaining about newspaper coverage. What should the reporters have done that they didn’t do? What should they have included in the stories that was left out? What questions should they have asked. Were the stories, news or commentary. Are you complaining about either of those types in this case?

    Perhaps you’re advocating that they be more obviously advocative? (?) Should they have called for demonstrations in the street about the lights cut? Living in a 3rd world country, I can tell you one can get along quite well with less light probably.


  2. It is not so much of what was in or what was out of the coverage, but rather the fact that these cuts are being made in what is arguably the most advanced (spoiled) nation in the world. And by these cuts – often most severely impacting those who can least afford them or manage without them (for instance MUNI transit cuts in San Francisco) that we continue to see erosion of services in spite of increased taxation and fees. It seems that we have committed to a life style that we cannot afford and yet we have no interest in giving up… Everyone seems to want cuts to affect some one else… and there appears to be little compromise or shared spirit of “suffering”.


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