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Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

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Monday, August 4, 2008

In US, gas prices mean more riders, fewer buses


This story raises a number of important issues:

1. What this proves is that we have public and government officials creating agencies which have no concept of the needs of working people.

2. If they did have any understanding of people’s needs and really grasped the implications of global warming they would be increasing electric mass transit and upgrading their systems with mass purchases of hybrid buses.

3. To be fair, fares would be drastically reduced and even made free during the primary hours of mass transit use--- thereby encouraging greater use of mass transit, which, in the longer term would amount to a massive collective savings to society, and reduce our collective carbon footprint.

Instead, like everything else under capitalism only the most short-term “solutions” are considered which do not serve working people or our living environment.

The capitalists and their sooth-sayers promoting the neoliberal agenda which includes reducing the wages while dangerously increasing the hours of mass transit workers as fares are increased while reducing services--- of which Al Gore and Maurice Strong are a classic example of the embodiment of both capitalists and capitalist sooth-sayers--- would have us believe changing out light bulbs with Wal-mart profiting is a substitute for: cheap/free public mass transit and a massive increase in mass transit subsidies transferred from cuts to the military budget along with a specially ear-marked tax on oil company profits designated for public mass transit.

By expanding mass transit systems and encouraging increased mass transit use through lower fares, wages of mass transit workers can be increased as their hours are reduced which would result in unemployed workers being hired.

All of this would go a long ways towards reducing our collective carbon footprint as we reduce use of automobiles.

Closing auto and truck plants, like the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, could be revitalized, retooled and given new life under public ownership in creating the necessary components of this public mass transit system.

This article begs the need for consideration of nationalization of the oil and energy industries because left to the control and ownership of those looking out for the interests of the Wall Street coupon clippers who will never understand the concept of producing and operating for the benefit of all of society we will be pushed towards destruction of human society and environmental disaster.

The real question this article begs an answer to is can we survive under capitalism; the time has come for working people to consider the cooperative alternative of socialism.

There is a reason capitalism is the bankers’ system and socialism is the workers’ system and if this article doesn’t convince people of this I don’t know what it will take… perhaps a crisis in health care or a complete collapse of the economy or more imperialist wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan or drastically increasing food prices coupled with sharp increases in unemployment as the corporations continuing investing the wealth created by American workers in areas of cheap resources and labor overseas.

Perhaps dumb donkeys like Jim Oberstar and Al Franken and the Democrats joined by dumb clucks like Norm Coleman will encourage the opening of a few more smoke-filled casinos--- their idea of “good jobs,” for those losing their jobs at the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and Northwest Airlines--- Mayors R.T. and Coleman can get together with the Transit Authority and sell the casino operators the unused buses at garage sale prices as they have been doing to shuttle people between casinos on roads maintained at public expense as people are suckered into believing all their economic woes can be resolved by that one pull of the one-armed bandit.

Lots of seniors, to the delight of those looking for solutions to Social Security funding are riding out their twilight years on free buses to smoke-filled casinos as the rest of us are on a thrilling roller coaster ride with capitalism on the skids to oblivion as we experience the twilight of world capitalism; do we really want to find out how thrilling this experience will be?

I have always found it amazing that free bus service can be offered by casinos when it comes to transporting people to take their money; but, workers can’t be transported to work by bus for free to create the real wealth.

I am sure we will be reading about how bus and light-rail fares have to be increased to pay for the new contract with transit workers. I wonder why we never hear that fares are being increased to subsidize corporate profits.

All of this kind of makes one wonder if politicians understand the difference between “fare” and “fair;” maybe the time has come to give the politicians dictionaries instead of our votes.

Upon the first quick read of this article, without thinking, one can easily conclude that public officials have caught a case of mass stupidity in considering fare increases and cuts to mass transit under the circumstances; however, logic, and plain old common sense, tell us that such massive stupidity just isn’t possible--- the real problem is we have people employed by public agencies working under the guise of being public officials who are really sabotaging public mass transit in this country, because, while we pay their wages, they work for corporate interests… kind of like the politicians who appoint them.

Watch for more articles in the corporate dominated main stream media on mass transit as politicians and the public officials they have appointed to the Transit Authority attempt to use negotiations with transit workers to explain away the increase in fares… and reduction of services as if this wouldn’t have happened even if transit workers would agree to work as volunteers.

Yes, you are paying that greedy bus driver you see every day who thinks she/he has the right to be able to feed their family and put a roof over their family’s head--- I don’t know whatever would possess any worker, especially a bus driver who just gets to sit and ride around all day taking in the sights made available by the art’s commission to think they have such rights; never mind what the CEO’s of Exxon/Mobil are raking in or how much politicians are being paid to run our country this way… and, whatever you do don’t bother looking in the Wall Street Journal to see how the Wall Street coupon clippers are faring… and don’t question if all of this is F-A-I-R.

Anyways, not to worry about any of this, Barack Obama will take care of everything.

Transit workers, in defending their livelihoods, are struggling for all of us; we should support them, too.

Something to think about around the dinner table.

Read on…

In US, gas prices mean more riders, fewer buses

By IVAN MORENO, Associated Press Writer

DENVER - High gas prices almost killed the lifeline to the city for a group of mountain commuters.

Park County bus riders recently had to plead with city officials to keep their route running, arguing that a daily 80-mile car trip would hurt riders financially.

"For many of our mountain commuters, it is the only form of transportation that these people have," said Pam Beckhorn, who leads a group dedicated to preserving the route along Highway 285.

Like their counterparts across the country, cash-strapped Colorado officials face a paradox: People are using public transportation more than ever, but higher fuel costs — and lower sales tax revenues — are forcing municipalities to trim routes.

According to a May survey by the American Public Transportation Association, about one in five of the nation's transit agencies have cut service over the past year.

They include Cleveland; Corpus Christi, Texas; and San Diego, which has seen one of the largest increases in bus ridership in the country.

The cutbacks come at a time of increasing interest in public buses and trains: The transportation association says people took 2.6 billion trips on public transportation nationwide in the first three months of 2008 — almost 88 million more than last year.

The highest ridership increases came in light rail and commuter rail. In light rail, Baltimore, Minneapolis, St. Louis and San Francisco all saw double-digit percentage increases over the first quarter of 2007.

Double-digit percentage increases for commuter rail were posted in Oakland, Calif.; Harrisburg, Pa.; and Philadelphia, among others. Seattle's increase was almost 28 percent, APTA said.

Bonnie Arnold, with the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, said the commuter rail system there saw a 46.7 percent more passengers in June than in June 2007.

"It's just been mind-boggling," she said.

Transit authorities are feeling the pinch of higher gas prices on both the expenditure and revenue sides of their budgets. They're paying more to fuel their buses and trains. At the same time, they're taking in fewer sales tax dollars — an income source for many transit agencies — because people are spending more at the pump and less on other items.

The Denver-area's transit system, which serves eight counties with a population of about 2.6 million, is on pace to carry 100 million passengers this year, a record in its 35-year history, said spokesman Scott Reed.

But the system will be about $6 million over budget this year on fuel. It budgeted for $2.62 per gallon but is paying $3.20, Reed said.

Fuel costs also make building materials needed to expand infrastructure more expensive, said Clarence W. Marsella, general manager and CEO of the Regional Transportation District.

"Everything that we do is being undermined by the fuel crisis," Marsella said. "It's really diabolical. The tentacles are everywhere."

Anticipating rising fuel costs, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority cut 5 percent of its bus lines in December. The district's fuel spending will surpass $20 million this year, compared to $12 million in 2007, said a spokesman.

One option being considered is adding a fuel surcharge to fares. If approved, any changes would be implemented in early October, the spokesman said.

In Corpus Christi, the Regional Transportation Authority is running fewer buses, said spokeswoman Kristi Pena. In New York City, there is talk of subway and bus fare hikes.

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System has reduced service, raised fares and laid off workers, said spokesman Rob Schupp. High fuel costs account for about $2 million of its $6.5 million deficit.

Denver's system is bracing for $5-a-gallon diesel prices in 2009. So the district has to cut or reduce service on its underperforming routes. That led to lobbying for the endangered route along Highway 285 during a recent meeting of the Regional Transportation District.

"You would put a lot of people out of work if you took their bus away from them," said engineer Martin Wirth, one of about 40 people at the meeting fighting to save the route.

Group members wore and gave board members T-shirts that read, "Go Green. Ride The Drive." They pleaded with the board to give them a chance to increase ridership.

In the end, the board voted to keep Route U, despite its $375,000 yearly cost. Supporters posed on a stairway for a celebratory picture.

"We are the little mouse that roared," Beckhorn said.

Here is something else to consider:


Something to think about: Fewer buses means fewer jobs… on the Iron Range, in the factories and behind the wheel.

Don’t expect many politicians to think in these terms as long as you keep voting for them without insisting on accountability… isn’t it time to start electing class conscious, socialist-minded workers to political office?

Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell phone: 651-587-5541
E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

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