Eating for (in)Equity

October 10, 2013 at 7:09 am Leave a comment


Next up in the arguments for devil-may-care transit spending frenzy: “fairness.”

On October 19, Transit for Livable Communities is teaming up with Eat for Equity to bring you a delicious, made-from-scratch meal with craft beer and local music. We invite you to come as you are, give what you can!

As you know, transportation is a very significant expense in low-income households, sometimes even more than housing! Providing more options for getting around affordably is a pathway to a healthier, wealthier, more equitable communities. Help TLC make this a reality: join us at Eat for Equity on October 19! All are welcome, but please let us know you’re coming so we make plenty of food to go around. Suggested donation: $15-30.

Connect with and support TLC’s work to promote a safe and affordable transportation system that encourages transit, bicycling, and walking to the benefit of all Minnesota families!

First, let’s throw the flag on the “sometimes more than housing” claim.  No, housing is the single biggest expense for most households.  Can you possibly find an anecdotal household that spends more on transportation than housing?  Probably, but it would be the except to the rule, so that claim is baseless.

While you were sleeping, someone set the goal of our community to be “equitable.”  We must have missed the memo that poor people will be healthier and wealthier if only we spend billions of dollars on 19th century technologies that don’t move people where they want to go when they want to get there.  They also don’t mention how much they will have to tax the same people they claim they are trying to help to pay for construction and operation.  Transit’s supporters wanted to quadruple the regressive transit sales tax (see line 29.16).  Yep, that will help low-income households!

If TLC really wanted upward economic mobility, they would be advocates for systems that work: subsidized car ownership.  Look at the outcomes based on research in this area (page 17):

• Transportation services, particularly cars, can lead to enhanced economic outcomes (Blumenberg and Waller, 2004)
• Car owners have higher employment rates and shorter unemployment spells (Holzer et al, 1994; O’Regan & Quigley, 1999; Raphael & Rice, 2002)
• Car ownership has a positive effect on the employment of minorities (Raphael and Stoll, 2001)

In fact, studies have shown that car ownership programs lead to improvements in employment, earnings, lower absenteeism, better social relationships, increased personal time, improved air quality (take that, light rail!), and even reducing public subsidies of means tested benefits (page 51).

Our neighbor to the east runs the JumpStart Car Program, in which participants are responsible for their loan payments, maintenance and insurance.  In Maryland and Virginia, Vehicles for Change does the same thing – as a non-profit!

With results like these, the transit myths of fairness and equity are exposed as frauds.  Transit spending is the reallocation of community resources to promote societal changes, not improved economic activity.

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Entry filed under: Transportation.

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