SHOULD GOVERNMENTS STRIVE FOR PROFITABILITY?

Some Politicians appear to prefer governing by providing a profit, rather than having a service in mind.  But, how do you place a value on: our Military; the Smithsonian and National Zoo; National Institutes for Health; FDA’s food inspections; FAAs inspectors visiting airports, checking on safety procedures; etc?  And, how do you charge for any of that?

Many in Congress and State Houses, prefer to look for new projects to create “photo ops” or, more recently, step onto the National Mall to seemingly “sympathize” with World War II Veterans when their Monument is closed.  Kind of two-faced when you consider that some the same members of Congress forced that closure.

In fact, despite the still weak Economy, some are still looking to make additional budget cuts, in addition to the radical cuts to Food Stamps, Head Start, and the FDA, etc. that have already been made due to Sequestration.  But, in 1991, Conservative Economic Guru, Milton Friedman, suggested that Japan should “stimulate like Hell” as it entered its Lost Decade.  So, as we have been seeing in Europe, Austerity doesn’t work.  And, our Budget is improving.  But, the ideologues still persist.

Government inconsistencies are everywhere.  Build new bridges, highways and tunnels when existing ones are falling apart.  Narrow major highways, diverting commuters to already-clogged side streets, in order to build new lanes, merely increasing pollution, road rage and health problems.  Then, when the new lanes are ready–some months later–traffic will be worst than ever, perhaps warranting the call for additional road construction.  Just an endless cycle of pork barrel waste.

Wouldn’t an intelligent mass transit–running from where people live to popular work destinations make sense?  Rather than to and from politically beneficial locations?  Also, keep the fares low–even operating at a loss–in order to gain ridership.  So, rather than add more and more traffic lanes, just put an additional car or two on the train.

Perhaps the best example of “penny-wise, and pound (British term) foolish” might be New York City.  The City Fathers have been trying to reduce congestion in the Central City, along with auto exhaust fumes.  Now, many of the cars are driven by commuters from the outlying suburbs.  So, bike paths and stations are nice for City Residents, but no one rides them in from Long Island or New Jersey.  But when the Metropolitan Transit Authority needed to generate more revenue, it raised the fares on buses and subways–without increasing bridge and tunnel tolls.  Looking for a direct profit, huh?  Isn’t that counter-productive?

New York should have focused on the commuters entering the City by driving over bridges and through tunnels, and kept the intra-city fares low, or at least not raised them as much.  But, the MTA assessed the cost of what they were trying to do on the wrong people. And, when more of the commuters from the suburbs start driving in, no doubt, they will raise the fares on the mass transit riders again.  Now, doesn’t that just sound like building more lanes on the highways, rather than reduce the traffic on them?

Every level of Government has General Revenue–from income tax, sales tax, property taxes, auto license and registration fees, etc. That’s where they can make-up for revenue shortfalls in order to send the right message.  But, perhaps it’s not politically the best course of action–even thought it may very well be the most advantageous for their Constituents.

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