Sunday, November 07, 2004

Philly needs a shrink
The collective mental health of Philadelphia -- which went overwhelmingly for Kerry -- took another drubbing today when the Pittsburgh Steelers utterly demolished the formerly unbeated Philadelphia Eagles, 27-3. The city looked dazed from Wednesday to Saturday, as forlorn Democrats reluctantly dismantled their Kerry-Edwards signs and tried to pretend that they weren't in for another four years of Junior. This certainly didn't help.

Meanwhile, SEPTA, which runs all public transit in the city, announced that unless it gets a major cash infusion from the state, it will cut 1/6 of its workforce, raise fares, and end all weekend service. That's right -- all weekend service. Of course, the Pennsylvania state legislature is controlled by everyone's favorite majority party, and hence getting that money is likely to be difficult if not impossible. Any public transit service that fails to provide service on Saturday and Sunday is essentially useless, since hundreds of thousands of people work on the weekends. I'm not surprised that angry Republican lawmakers would try to strangle the cities that gave Pennsylvania to John Kerry, but still, it sucks. Especially for those of us who rely, partially or entirely, on public transit to get around Philadelphia.

This is essentially just one more way that the Republicans' strategy of starving government to death while giving you tiny, targeted tax breaks just ends up costing you much more money in the long run, as public goods are either withdrawn or underfunded, passing the cost and the misery onto the taxpayer. If SEPTA indeed raises its fares 50 cents, that could cost riders up to a dollar a day, more than wiping out that $300 rebate some of us received a few years ago. But that's all part of the strategy. As Lenin famously remarked, "The worse the better."

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