Friday, March 27, 2009

More Zero-Sum Misconstruing

The NY Times-who else?-joins the list of those who see the MTA crisis in rather Manichean terms; it's either tolls or the transit riders take it up the posterior: "Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has proposed a workable compromise that avoids such huge fare increases and service cuts. It would allow $2 tolls on the remaining bridges around Manhattan that are still toll-free. There would be a tax on payrolls in the metropolitan area and a smaller rise in fares of 8 percent. It would also get the M.T.A. out of a $1.2 billion hole that will only grow deeper without a reasonable rescue package."

But the recalcitrant naysayers in the state senate are blocking this progressive vision of, once again, handing the MTA a blank check: "As the State Senate turns its back on eight million riders a day, the M.T.A. can’t just wait. They could start preparing fare machines and scheduling delays set for June — unless Albany wakes up and comes to the rescue."

But wait, it now appears that Mike Bloomberg is ready to jump in-perhaps believing that the Albany water is safe for even he to take a dip in: "Their ears must be ringing! Hordes of angry straphangers yesterday heeded Mayor Bloomberg's call to flood state lawmakers' phone lines and get "mad as hell" at Albany's inaction on staggering fare hikes."

It reminds us of how the littlest guy in the gang waits for all of his bigger buddies to leap on the bad dudes from the other gang; and, seeing the situation under control, takes the last leap onto the pile to demonstrate his courage. But the mayor fails to offer any constructive alternatives to tolling the bridges-and, after all, why should he since he has demonstrated his hostility to outer borough drivers for the past three years.

So, once again, it is left to a small band of courageous lawmakers to demonstrate that tolls aren't the sine qua non of a transit deal. As our friend Steve Barrison points out to us: "Here the vehicle owners pay about the highest rates of parking tax, parking fines, cost of operation and maintenance, fuel taxes, city and other taxes, and most of the so called tolls fall on the backs of the hard working middle class residents of the boros and small business. The "corp. fat cats" and other quasi governmental workers, and the 240,000 "official" vehicles, and the thousands of orange government E-Z passes, and exempt, or partially so, TLC, Livery and yellow cabs, leave the heavy financial weight on those few who can't carry the burden for the inept MTA!"

Perhaps, just as Joe Biden told us in the campaign, Blooomberg, Zuckerman and Michael Daly believe that it is the patriotic duty of all city motorists to pay tolls on the bridges. After all, opposition to this scheme has already been labeled, "treasonous."