Friday, May 21, 2010

When Economic Reality Steps In

IndyGo, Marion County's government owned and operated bus line, is not immune from dealing with fiscal reality. This is a remarkable statement when you consider that generally, IndyGo gets some 80% of its operating budget not from rider fares, but from government subsidies.

I'll give credit to IndyGo on this: With tax revenues down, and therefore their operating budget short, the bus line has decided to cut routes and hike fares. This is a sensible reaction, unless you can have a stable of unicorns pull the busses or fill the gas tank with fairy dust.

IndyGo has been holding public meetings, and the riders showed up in force to bitch. Reading the Indy Star account kind of reminds me of hearing my 4-year-old whine when I turn the TV off.

But in the end, emotion -- not figures -- seemed to rule the day.

Several riders shared stories about how they depend on the bus to get to work, school, grocery stores and doctors' offices.

"It took me an hour and a half to get from my house to Washington (Street to catch the bus)," said regular IndyGo rider Nora Wright, her voice shaking with anger. "I don't think that's right."

Another asked in amazement: "You expect us, the poor and disabled, to pay more while you actually make the service worse?"

I remind my little girl, "You just got a gift of watching some TV. You should be saying 'thank you', not stomping your feet and pouting".

The vast majority of citizens do not ride the bus, yet all pay taxes to subsidize the rides of a few. I don't think I've ever seen an example of a bus rider acknowledging the gift they get from the taxpayers. Not a gift? Pay for the full cost of your fair share of the operation, and it ceases to be a gift, when the riders pay a fare such that the operating budget requires zero tax dollars. Here's the telling quote:
They explained that the door-to-door paratransit service, known as Open Door, is far more expensive to operate than fixed-route service -- $35 per passenger versus about $4.

So, what are the fares for these rides? Per IndyGo's website:

Single ride: $1.75 (free ride of $2.25 per ride)
Half fare for those over 65, disabled, or under 18: $.85 (free ride of $3.15 per ride)
Open Door: $3.50 (free ride of $31.50 per ride!)

So, IndyGo is proposing to raise the fares? Great! It's about time. IndyGo loses money every time somebody hops aboard. Time to go the whole route towards fiscal solvency and sustainability. Pay for what you take.

Either that, or acknowledge the gift the taxpayers are giving and quit acting like 4-year-olds. This entitlement attitude is killing our country.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh, Schadenfreud, Mr. Souder!

I went through a long period of time where I did not enjoy revelling in the misery of others. Maybe I'm becoming an old man. Get off my lawn! See?

But today's news that 'Family Values' Republican Mark Souder, A US Representative from District 3 in Indiana, has me snickering. From Fox News:

Eight-term Rep. Mark Souder will announce his resignation Tuesday after it came to light that he was conducting an affair with a female aide who worked in his district office, Fox News has learned.

Multiple senior House sources indicated that the extent of the affair with the 45-year-old staffer would have landed Souder before the House Ethics Committee.

Elected as a family values conservative as part of the Republican revolution in 1994, Souder survived a tough re-election challenge in 2008 and survived a contested primary two weeks ago.

(Wait! This report came from 'Faux News'. It therefore cannot be true!!! Shouldn't we dismiss it out of hand?)

So why am I enjoying? Well, if you get elected on something I don't care for- legislating morality- you had better damn well be squeaky clean. I hate hypocrisy, from Al Gore's environmental crusade launched from a ginormous mansion via private jets, to this kind of thing. In and of itself, an affair is his personal problem, and in my opinion doesn't necessarily make one unfit to legislate. But I love the speed and finality that is apparently closing out this hypocrite's political career. It just makes me feel that there is some poetic justice in the world.

Now, if only Charlie Rangel had this kind of 'backdoor integrity'.

While the Republicans scramble to put somebody on the ballot, I'm pleased to note that Libertarian candidate Scott Wise is running. A former County Commissioner, he would serve northeast Indiana ably- and would NOT legislate morality.