Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Joy of Independence

I drove my car through some heavy traffic on I-69 this evening, in the Castleton and Fishers area. I had my radio on and I smiled.

I smiled because even though there was congestion, there was motion. When I had my fill of I-69, I exited the highway for some side streets.

I smiled because I was hearing reports of the mass transit strike in New York City. I was not taking delight in the misery of Manhattan workers struggling to return to the Bronx or to Queens. I was taking delight in the fact that while automobile traffic can be difficult at times, it is not subject to a crippling at the hands of a labor union. Link to AP report on NYC transit labor strife.

In previous posts, I stated opposition to the proposed regional light rail system for Central Indiana, on economic grounds. Now I'll state additional opposition on the grounds of independence.

New Yorkers are thoroughly dependent upon mass transit. Most New Yorkers don't even own cars. Without the trains, they are virtually immobile. Not here in Indiana. Even if I-69 were swallowed into the earth tomorrow, I would have several other ways to get where I need to be.

Let's not move towards dependence upon a commuter system. Even if everything works mechanically, the unions can still grind the system to a halt. You would think Republicans would understand that. Let's remain independent- free to move, and free from the crushing tax burden that would be a Central Indiana light rail system that Republicans support.


GadFlier said...

Let us also not move towards active government interference with anyone who might wish to develop any sort of transportation system. I'm of the opinion that, were many of the impediments against small businesses reduced or removed, including government-sponsored competition, there would be individuals who would try to make a profit at providing mass transportation.

Likewise, you're revealin a strong pro-plutocratic and anti-liberty bias in castigating "unions" willy-nilly. Just as businessmen should be free to hire as they wish and cooperate as they wish, workers should be free to cooperate with each other as they wish regarding marketing of their labor. It is not unions that are innately pernicious. It is direct government patronage of unions.

Mike Kole said...

I would be all in favor of a private company trying to make a go of it, if they chose to do so. I sure don't see any jumping forward, trying to buy up right-of-way, though. I am also in favor of removing the artificial impediments.

I believe it was the son of Commodore Vanderbilt who said, "Passenger trains are rather like the male teat. They are rather functional nor ornamental". It was his judgment back in 1910, way before cars and airplanes, that passenger rail was a money loser.

Jerry Marlette's history of the Indianapolis Traction Company is very instructive on this matter. The private company gave up in 1957, after years of losing money. A dry read, but instructive.

As for my take on unions, this one isn't willy nilly. This is sepcifically directed against the striking union in New York. They could have staged their strike in September, when the weather is a lot nicer, but obviously they chose a time that would hurt commuters- their customers. I do hold those who would hurt their customers in low regard, such as these strikers.

While the union certainly is free to withhold their services, the MTA is equally free to replace them, although I'll bet government will prevent that from happening.

Drexler said...

Damn, I long for the days of living in Tokyo when I could just hop on the train, read my newspaper, listen to my tunes, arrive where I wanted, not worry about parking, no car problems, no repairs, no gas..... *sigh*

I just wish it made good business sense and some private interest would try it. (I'd trade my 1989 Maxima sitting in the drive for a month's rail pass!)

GadFlier said...

From nosing around into the question, public transportation can make good business sense, but only if entrepreneurs are permitted to build and route where it makes good business sense! To wit, if only five bus routes would be potentially profitable in central Indiana, an entrepreneur should be permitted to only serve those routes and not required to provide additional service elsewhere.

Public transportation is not inherently and automatically unprofitable. In the right places it can turn a profit. Of course, in other places, it cannot.

That being said, I'm still waiting for appropriate punishments to be handed out for the collusion between automobile manufacturers and government in the late 1940s and the 1950s. The interstate system was not nearly so much a "defense" project as government propaganda made it out to be. It was a taxpayer-funded handout to automobile manufacturers--the government spending tax money to increase the market for automobiles. Is it the place of government to redistribute wealth in order to increase a domestic market?

Anonymous said...

Why would we want to create nests for union conspirators to own?