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Posts Tagged ‘MTA’

End Subway Socialism in New York City – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on February 19, 2021

But most of this extra money, as the sad subway history repeats, will not be spent on better trains, but on servicing the huge amount of debt of the government agency running the system.

https://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/end-subway-socialism-in-new-york-city/

by Gregory Bresiger

The misery will continue for New York subway riders, who don’t understand how previous subway reforms have failed. State and city officials concede things will worsen.Privatization is the only road back to the days when the subways were considered an engineering marvel. The subway system could and should be handed back over the private sector.
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“There is no question our subways are in crisis after decades of underinvestment and inaction,” wrote New York City Comptroller Scott Stinger in a recent report.

“The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA),” writes New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in a report last year, “is facing its greatest challenge in decades.” Riders, he warned “are abandoning the system for other transportation alternatives.”

And the problems will continue for years.

“Citing the MTA’s low debt service coverage in the near term and its challenging funding issues, Standard & Poor’s recently downgraded the MTA’s credit rating, which could lead to higher borrowing costs. Debt service is already projected to increase by 26 percent over the next four years, reaching nearly $3.3 billion by 2022,” according to the DiNapoli report.

“Debt service,” DiNapoli wrote, “has been growing rapidly since the early 2000s.” Yet the red-ink woes of the government trains had been going on for many years before that.

Stringer, who is critical of the subways but against any privatization, says bad subway service hurts the area’s economy. Losses range “from $170 million to $389 million” a year.

And that was before the coronavirus crisis. Yet no state or city official says anything about bringing the private sector back into the subways. Its first lines were built by private companies, made lots of money, and helped clear slums in lower Manhattan as people were able to move to better neighborhoods.

Yet the government-run subways, again on the verge of disaster, will follow the same solution even though it repeatedly failed over decades: More taxpayer money.

Here’s what one subway historian wrote of the previous “give the subway more taxpayer money” plans: “If anything has emerged as a timeless and universal characterization of the New York Subway,” writes historian Brian Cudahy, “it is the endless search for some future salvation, some not realized resolution of its difficulties and cure for its ills. Plans are made, programs developed, goals established. But they never quite live up to their initial expectations, and a new cycle must begin.”

Cudahy, who was also a former federal transit official, is against privatization.

The MTA recently approved the biggest capital plan, in the agency’s history; some $51 billion. MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim, promised that “enhancements” to the system would “improve the riders’ daily experience.”

Dear riders, has your experience improved? 

But most of this extra money, as the sad subway history repeats, will not be spent on better trains, but on servicing the huge amount of debt of the government agency running the system.

For instance, how many people know that three separate Second Avenue Subway bond issues were approved over some 60 years — in the 1950s, 1960s, and recently under Gov. George Pataki — yet, in the case of the first two the money had to be spent on closing the subway deficit? As for the third bond issue, very little of the new line has been completed and who knows when this infamous Line — which was designed to replace the Second and Third Ave. els, which were taken down in the 1950s and 1960s — will ever be finished?

Yet again the state agency that runs the subways, which in the 1960s replaced the city agency that made a mess of running them, says it is deep in the hole even with more money coming.

The MTA, which already in the midst of a new cash infusion, wants the federal government to provide billions more on top of that $51 billion, with service deteriorating and MTA officials saying the red ink could possibly lead to something I can’t recall ever threatened before in previous crises: Lines discontinued!

Yet our political and media elites today have the same answer as 70 years ago: Give more money to this flawed system and ban the private sector.

Actually, I would argue that, as with so many other failing government services in so much trouble, it is no longer a philosophical debate. Privatization is inevitable, given the messes created by decades of a government-run enterprise.

Yet any privatization is verboten in New York’s increasingly socialist economy. Our leaders push various price controls. They are hostile to the privatization of anything.

Impossibilities

In the subways their opposition is based on a historical myth: “Private subways, private transportation companies, can never make money.”

I have been told this many times.

Is the private-transportation argument valid?

No.

The IRT was a private management company that had a subway-franchise contract with the city. It built the first subways, which were considered “an engineering marvel” by Robert Caro in his biography of the controversial New York bureaucrat Robert Moses.

“So superbly engineered and maintained had the system previously been that it took years for the systematic neglect to take its toll,” Caro wrote.

But in the last decade or so of the IRT, the company that built the first subways did lose money and wanted to sell to the city.

Why?

The IRT, in its nearly 37 years of existence, was never permitted to raise the fare above a nickel. That fare was quickly and frequently raised once the city, and later the state, took over the subways.

The use of price controls, along with punishing regulation, is the classic case of how socialism comes in the back door without anyone’s mentioning the word “Marx.”

However, the journalists and political elites in our city either don’t know or want to hide some painful history about the subways. In the first 25 years or so of the IRT it made money — a lot of money. (By contrast, a government-run competing system, the IND, always lost money.)

Indeed, in the IRT’s 1917 annual report, the transportation company reported net income of $23.2 million. That was an increase of about $1.5 million over the previous year. The IRT was also a good investment. It paid about some $7 million in dividends, according to the annual financial report dated June 30, 1917.

Profits and dividends through subway operations? Yes. 

And even into the 1920s, when price controls and rising costs as a result of World War I squeezed profits, when the private operators sued to raise fares, the subways still made money.

But the IRT could see problems coming. World War I had driven up costs and the nickel fare was insufficient.

In a U.S. Supreme Court decision of 1929, Gilchrist v. IRT, a decision that affirmed that the five-cent fare couldn’t be raised to seven cents, court papers documented that the IRT was doing something that the government would never do: The IRT made money.

“For the current fiscal year ended June 30, 1928, the figures for the first six months are available, and show a net surplus amounting to $3,687,000, which exceeds the surplus for the corresponding six months of the fiscal year before by $1,609,000.”

However, after the IRT was repeatedly blocked from raising fares, the price-controlled subways lost money in the 1930s. Soon, we were on the track of a perpetual government-run system: It meant then what it means today and will always mean: Lose a lot and provide rotten service.

But what if we continue down this same road of throwing more taxpayer geld down the sewer?

More cutbacks and fare and tax increases will come in the current system as riders continue to suffer.

Privatization is the only road back to the days when the subways were considered an engineering marvel. The subway system could and should be handed back over the private sector.

It doesn’t have to be this way, a way in which people despair of having to ride this state-run nightmare. In fact, there was a time when the subways were great under a private management company. The people who run the city don’t want people to ever know that. They don’t want them to ever learn the true history of markets, which consistently provide better services than the government. They will then want — perhaps even demand — a privately owned, privately run subway system.

This article was originally published in the January 2021 edition of Future of Freedom.

This post was written by: Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger, an independent business journalist who works for the Sunday New York Post business section and Financial Advisor Magazine, is the author of the book Personal Finance for People Who Hate Personal Finance.

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“Travel Papers” and the Pandemic Patriot Act 2.0 – The Organic Prepper

Posted by M. C. on March 26, 2020

What the heck are “pre-arrest” procedures, anyway? Is that the part where government investigators go and set someone up to commit a crime like all those “bombing plots” the FBI keeps saving us from?

https://www.theorganicprepper.com/travel-papers-and-the-pandemic-patriot-act-2-0/

by Daisy Luther

Did you ever think we’d reach the point in the United States where you had to have papers to freely travel from one place to another? It appears we’re at the point.

The MTA issued “travel papers” to their workers

On March 17th, a few days before New York issued a shelter in place order, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority issued “travel papers” to their employees to prepare for a potential coronavirus curfew. The NY Daily News reports:

If non-emergency travel is restricted, workers can show law enforcement officials the letter if they’re stopped on the way to work.

“This letter along with current New York CIty Transit identification identifies this individual as an essential employee who is required to travel during the curfew imposed due to the Coronavirus emergency,” states the letter, which is signed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Police Department’s acting chief Joseph McGrann. “Please give this individual due consideration during this crisis.”

MTA spokeswoman Abbey Collins said the letter was distributed on Monday to a “limited number of NYCT bus employees living in New Jersey” because the state’s Gov. Murphy suggested imposing a statewide curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. (source)

Clearly, the wheels have been in motion for several days. And it’s not just the MTA.

Your papers, please.

For everyone who thought the article about the Lockdown of America was a “hysterical overstatement” and that they could still do whatever they wanted because it wasn’t really being enforced, what are you thinking now that “travel papers” are being handed out? To me, this sounds like the lockdowns I wrote of yesterday were just the first incremental step toward a society that nobody hopes to see.

Yesterday, readers sent me photos of “travel papers” provided to them by employers so they could get to and from work. These are employees who work in industries like healthcare, pharmacies, and foodservice, as well as those who work in the production, transport, and sales of essential supplies.

One reader wrote, “We were told to show these if we got stopped on the way to or from work and that if the authorities gave us any trouble, to not argue and just go back home.”

Here are some of the papers that people sent. Identifying information has been redacted.

 

Papers that people sent were from Pennsylvania, New York, Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Kansas, New Jersey, West Virginia, Virginia, Oregon, Florida, Louisiana, and Ohio. Industries mentioned in the papers were trucking, grocery stores, medical clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, city transit workers, railroads, food production plants, pharmacies, gas stations, stores like Target and Walmart, and automotive repair facilities.

Most people were given their papers on Friday or Saturday and told they’d need them to get to and from work starting the week ahead.

I wonder who’s going to be checking your “travel papers.”  Will it be the local PD? The National Guard? The military? Maybe it’ll be all those TSA agents who are currently out of work but already accustomed to molesting innocent travelers.

What does this mean for those told they’d be able to go to the store?

We’ve been repeatedly told during task force press conferences that nobody needs to worry about buying extra supplies because the stores will remain open. We were chastised about stocking up and “hoarding” supplies. But if you need travel papers just to get to work, how will a person get to the store when they need to pick up some groceries? Will these papers only be required during certain hours?

It’s easy to prove you just went to the store when you have a bag of groceries in hand, but how do you prove you are going to the store? Will they just begin distributing the food to us as opposed to allowing people to shop for their own food?

A little clarity and less subterfuge would go a lot further toward preventing concern that we’re about to go full Wuhan here in America.

If I didn’t have supplies already, I would head to the store today and get enough for a couple of extra weeks at the very least. Here are some ideas for finding supplies amidst the picked-over inventory that remains.

So, what happens if you get caught without your papers? I’m glad you asked.

It seems like the DoJ is itching to suspend the Constitution.

At this point, the “Department of Justice” sounds like one of those other phrases the government uses to mean the complete opposite. Like the “Patriot Act” which is as far from patriotic as it gets.

And speaking of the Patriot Act, the government is now introducing what I’d like to dub the Pandemic Patriot Act 2.0.

The DoJ has secretly asked Congress to draft legislation allowing them to indefinitely detain people without due process during the coronavirus pandemic. Because who doesn’t want to add a little spice to our economic crisis with the added threat of indefinite detention?

Documents reviewed by POLITICO detail the department’s requests to lawmakers on a host of topics, including the statute of limitations, asylum and the way court hearings are conducted. POLITICO also reviewed and previously reported on documents seeking the authority to extend deadlines on merger reviews and prosecutions…

…In one of the documents, the department proposed that Congress grant the attorney general power to ask the chief judge of any district court to pause court proceedings “whenever the district court is fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience, or other emergency situation.”

The proposal would also grant those top judges broad authority to pause court proceedings during emergencies. It would apply to “any statutes or rules of procedure otherwise affecting pre-arrest, post-arrest, pre-trial, trial, and post-trial procedures in criminal and juvenile proceedings and all civil process and proceedings,” according to draft legislative language the department shared with Congress. In making the case for the change, the DOJ document wrote that individual judges can currently pause proceedings during emergencies, but that their proposal would make sure all judges in any particular district could handle emergencies “in a consistent manner.” (source)

What the heck are “pre-arrest” procedures, anyway? Is that the part where government investigators go and set someone up to commit a crime like all those “bombing plots” the FBI keeps saving us from?

I wouldn’t be surprised to see another 300-page legislation like the original Patriot Act that was rolled out just weeks after 911, giving us the TSA, indefinite detention, and all sorts of other dystopian nonsense.

Never let a serious crisis go to waste.

In the infamous words of Rahm Emmanuel, the former mayor of Chicago, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

It looks like the government is taking those words to heart with travel papers and new draconian laws.

Since I wrote the article about America locking down yesterday, more states have joined in. Now New York, California, Illinois, Connecticut, and New Jersey are all under restriction.

Is your state coming soon? Are these lockdowns being rolled out incrementally, starting out gently (sure you can walk your dog!) and then moving on to the point where you can’t leave your house without “travel papers?”

So far, 2020 has brought us an out-of-control deadly pandemic, an economic collapse, statewide lockdowns, and now travel papers and a potential new law to eradicate the Fifth Amendment.

I hesitate to ask what’s next.

 

 

 

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