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Do it again, only HARDER!


One of the big advantages of a decentralized system of personal transportation technology (like, say, personal automobiles and public roads) is that it reduces the dependency of individuals upon the State for their daily lives.  It's hard to screw up a road, although governments certainly put a lot of effort into it! 

Generally, city governments seem to spend all their time complaining about traffic while begging for money to build extensive public transportation systems that aren't used.  Austin, for example, keeps putting silly "light rail" public transportation systems on the ballot, then scolding the public when they say no -- and nevermind that the bus system is so inefficient that it would be cheaper to buy each passenger a humvee.  (No, I didn't do that math, and I don't have a link handy to the person who did -- sorry).

Now a local news channel is complaining that Katrina evacuees who depended on public transportation in New Orleans are now stuck walking around Austin, because our public transport system sucks.  Here's one story:
Every morning and every evening, rain or shine, hot or cold, Ivy Harris walks one mile from her apartment on Decker Lane in Northeast Austin to the nearest bus stop to get to her job downtown.

"I was going to quit, but I talked to my job and they cut my hours, unfortunately, to get me home before it gets dark. Because one night I walked home and it was dark I couldn't see my hand in front of me," Harris said.

Her plan is to save up for a car and insurance so she can work more hours and fulfill her other responsibilities to her children. Right now, she must rely on cabs to get to the grocery store at a cost of $25 each way.

Here's one case where "tough love" is encouraging the right decision.  Relying on the State to provide your personal transportation may leave you without such transportation and unable to fulfill your own responsibilities.  The appropriate response, rather than quitting your job, is to take steps to become responsible for yourself.  In fact, the article closes on this note:
Some subjects interviewed for this article have since found ways to purchase vehicles, at times at the expense a tighter budget for food and other basic bills.
Heavens, you don't say that they are making cost-benefit tradeoffs!

So what's the clear subtext of this article?  "Vote for public transport to help the Katrina victims."

And that's why I titled my post "Do it again, only HARDER."  Because this news story is doing nothing less than pushing everyone to fund the exact sort of system that produced individuals dependent upon the State for their personal transportation.  The people they interviewed seem perfectly capable of learning from their mistakes and adapting to their new situation, so why is it so difficult for journalists to do so?

This entry was published 2005-12-29 22:22:58.0 by matthew@triggerfinger.org and last updated 2005-12-29 22:22:58.0. [Tweet]

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