Friday, December 5, 2008

Public Initiatives: Bail Out the Transit Utilities

Not at all an Ottawa (or even a Canada) -based Public Initiative, but the Bail Out the People Movement seems to be pretty big in the United States. The Huffington Post, the self-described "Internet Newspaper", had a column about the movement, which outlined the fact that the $7.7T USD bailout of the US financial sector would translate into roughly $55,000 per US citizen. As author Dale Pendell said, that amount of money would go a long way for individuals:

Some will save the money, which will solve the bank liquidity crisis. Some, of course will spend it or lose it at the racetrack. Either way, that's a great boon to business. But most will produce and invest, in themselves and in their friends. Companies will form, with the resources pooled into partnerships.
There's another way to use that money to "bail out the people", though, and that's by investing it into the public transit utilities which desperately need money -- like New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), whose recent budget includes rises in fares, layoffs uf staff, and significant service cuts. Worker's World, an independent news source dedicated to workers and oppressed peoples, suggested that the banks (including specifically American International Group [AIG]) which have benefitted from the federal bailout pass their good fortune onto transit utilities such as the MTA by offering debt relief:
Holding signs reading, “The banks should bail out the MTA,” members of the Bail Out the People Movement and transit workers held a press conference on Nov. 20 outside a public hearing where the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced the cuts. The Straphangers Campaign carried giant petitions signed by subway riders. One protester disrupted the hearing.

The media are attempting to address this public outrage by claiming that the hikes and cuts are necessary–that the financial crisis has drastically reduced the revenues
state and city governments get from corporate taxes. But the MTA’s officially stated deficit has nothing to do with state and city budgets. The MTA really owes all that money to the banks—most of it for interest payments.
Somehow I doubt many banks will run with this idea, but it sure sounds like it's got some merit.

4 comments:

David Reevely said...

To be strictly accurate, the U.S. bailouts total much less than $7.7 trillion in real life.

That amount includes loan guarantees and whatnot, very little of which will ever be used. The government doesn't have $7.7 trillion in a big pile ready to spend, with the only decision being what to spend it on.

Justin said...

The MTA does not hold Rich people's money. So who cares about the little guy?

Anonymous said...

Hey picketers, don't you guys get hungry standing around so long? I'd offer you a knuckle sandwich but I don't think you'd like my cooking.

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