Morning Reads for Wednesday, September 26

@JimKyle : Mitt Romney just sent my wife a fundraising letter, which means he’s either got too many dollars or not enough cents. [Tennessee State Senator Jim Kyle and  Democratic majority leader]


Here in Georgia:

National / International Stories of Interest: 

I didn’t sleep well and I woke up before alarm went off. Therefore, I don’t like any links today. 



  1. wicker says:

    Pardon me, but the headline for the privatizing MARTA oped was “MARTA hardly indispensable.” So, the CATO Institute fellow’s argument was more towards dismantling MARTA, using the savings to build more highways (which do not benefit ITP people by the way) and replacing it with a privately run bus system that would serve low-income riders. Which, of course, would leave Atlanta as the largest run metropolitan area in the developed world without a public transportation system. Many of our current employers and professionals (job-creators) would leave, and good luck drawing new ones here. The fellow talks about what a great job the 1972 Atlanta Transit Company did, totally ignoring the changes to the region, nation and economy since then.

    This fellow doesn’t want to privatize MARTA but to bury it, and is fully aware that doing so would take Atlanta along with it. Without MARTA, there would be very little incentive for employers to choose the city of Atlanta over the suburbs. And yes, that does explain a lot of the suburban anti-MARTA sentiment, which adopting the recommendations of the KPMG audit that came back yesterday won’t make go away.

  2. Max Power says:

    Wicker, when I saw your comment that the guy was from the CATO instituted I knew it had to be my old friend Randy O’Toole. O’Toole may be a bright guy but he basically hates any kind of public transportation spending that’s not for cars. And as a cyclist I’ve seen him reflexively oppose anything not car centric. The fact is MARTA can’t be privatized because public transportation isn’t about making money it’s about providing a public service. No one expects the downtown connector to make money or to be anything but an expense. MARTA should be thought of the same way. Which is not to excuse the way MARTA is ran which is an issue for another day.

    • cheapseats says:

      Well said. I’m constantly amazed at folks who want to rage against all public transportation as a “money loser” and completely ignore the fact that all that pavement that they love so well is a HUGE money loser. Roads never pay for themselves and motor fuel taxes never cover the complete cost of building and maintaining them.

      Further, people never seem to understand that pavement wears out when heavy vehicles use them repeatedly. Motorcycles, scooters, and bicycles do practically zero damage to roads. Big trucks, big heavy cars, garbage trucks, UPS trucks, and yes buses put tremendous wear and tear on asphalt. None of these users ever really pay the full cost of building and maintaining the roads so, where is their outrage against this subsidy?

      I don’t mind having transportation infrastructures of all kinds and I don’t mind paying my fair share to have these kinds of options. It just chaps my butt to hear the constant whining of the double standards applied to transportation options.

        • Stefan says:

          Doesn’t even begin to equal out though. Trucking is seriously subsidized in this country. So are trains, for that matter. Obviously, the idea is that by subsidizing the transport of cargo and lowering those costs, you make it easier to American producers to grow and prosper. Of course, now that subsidized system only serves to underwrite the foreign production of goods which are then sold to American consumers. Which is why the canned peaches you buy are from Greece and not Georgia.

          The first iteration of that, by the way, was that canned peach production went from Georgia and SC to California, but after the GATT rulings in 1996, that effectively ended domestic peach production for preservation purposes.

          So, highways and cheap gas mean loss of American jobs and American farms. Mass transit systems move people locally, not goods internationally. Just remember that when a group like Cato is pushing for interstate highways et al, over mass transit.

          • saltycracker says:

            So the interstate system is a trucking industry subsidy and trucking needs to pay more for delivery of domestic goods too ? If you oppose Walmart and friends from distribution of foreign goods at low cost why not slap a tariff on imports and tax the tar out of the supercargo shipping ? That should slow those crazied consumers down.

            • Stefan says:

              I don’t oppose distribution of foreign goods at low costs, I just think the mechanisms that subsidize that market should be made clear.

              Also, I am not in favor of protective tariffs necessarily, but I am also not in favor in the subsidizing of one means of production over another unless the benefits of doing so make sense. And here they do not.

              And in addition to the political issues of tariffs, or import duties, a protective tariff often violates WTO rules. I referenced that above regarding the 1996 rulings (though to be fair, that was both the Argentina tariff AND the Greek peach subsidies that produced that result).

              • saltycracker says:

                And how are we subsidizing trucking – interstate highways, generous length and Weight laws or easy requirements/licensing/reporting/driver controls/safety requirements, emissions laws (that make trucks emit cleaner air than they took in)……no one industry touches more people and is more competitive than trucking.

                • Stefan says:

                  well, what we are talking about today is road building. road building subsidizes trucking. and by subsidizing trucking, decreases the price of trucked goods, thus making it cheaper than it otherwise would be to make or grow something somewhere else.

                  i think we may be talking past each other here. competition within the trucking industry isn’t related to the structural economics of the industry as a whole.

                  • saltycracker says:

                    To avoid talking past the subject: To position that building interstates subsidizes trucking and “only serves to underwrite the foreign production of goods” is a bizarre twist of tinfoil.

                    Efficient distribution does keep costs down but I suspect that is not the reason for Greek peaches. Might add that legally operated trucks probably cause a lot less damage to the roads than the weather.

                    Better for you to argue that interstate and road building unfairly subsidizes the real estate & construction industry because they seem to follow them very closely.

                    • Stefan says:

                      It does those as well. But my response is to the endlessly lobbed grenade that mass transit needs to pay for itself. Roads are huge pits of cash and nobody ever brings that up. Please note, I am not making the argument that we should not do everything we can to provide for the most efficient transport of goods (safely, that is) as well as people, simply that we need to acknowledge that someone advocating for interstate highways might have interests other than improving intracity commuting and the health of any particular city – including this one.

                      Cato is using libertarian based arguments, but their market argument isn’t an honest one. There are a tremendous hidden costs that subsidize car and truck travel that should be made visible and internalized by the market.

  3. saltycracker says:

    Just a random thought: The cost of an expanding bureaucracy and the employee cost conflicts with the very expensive infrastructure. Is it possible to have publically owned infrastructure utilizing private means for the operations ? McMARTA ?

    • Charlie says:

      Here’s another thought.

      Look through the threads on the Charter School Amendment and look at the number of times opponents scream “FOR PROFIT SCHOOLS!” because the management of some schools is outsourced. These are the same people who lined up behind T-SPLOST because they don’t think MARTA has done enough outsourcing, or will use this report as a reason why MARTA shouldn’t get state help.

      And they will see no cognative dissonance whatsoever.

      • saltycracker says:

        If you mean by lined up behind T-SPLOST as being against, I’d agree.
        In most areas the school system is the largest employer, omni-present and such a part of the fabric of our lives & neighbors it is seemed to be too difficult/time consuming to get pro-active with and overhaul. Most of the issues are blamed on the state and Fed requirements, the pension programs, the overpaid administrators, the illegals, the transfered monies, processes…..

        Toss in the general lack of trust and lack of confidence in oversight with even those they elected…..This non-trust causes many on the far right to fear their elected will tilt the financial scales too much, resulting in the edu-crats punishing the public school kids to maintain their employee empires.

  4. SallyForth says:

    The Braves’ win last night put them in the play-offs, and how cool it was to see Chipper actually skip from third to home on Freeman’s two-run homer at the bottom of the 9th! I’m too happy to be torqued out about anything political today. I just hope our Braves can sally forth, ride this thing all the way and give Chipper a great send-off for his final season. GO BRAVES!!

  5. Baker says:

    If anybodys paying attention, who the heck is Robber Baron? And does he/ she get a free round at a PP Roadshow following the straight up murder of everyone else in the Pick-It League?

    • Stefan says:

      I assume you are referring the NFL pic’em league? Nobody cares about that. Everyone is more concerned with the college one. In which Robber Baron has had the high score two of the last three weeks, but is not leading overall. Yet.

Comments are closed.