July 22, 2011 by wcobserver
This column highlights the range of political thought in our society by presenting commentary from various ideological perspectives. Occasionally we ask a question of two commentators and print their answers, side by side. We also invite commentators to submit an essay on any topic that promotes their political philosophy. We publish them as “Voices from the Left or Right.”
The idea seemed simple enough until this week when one of our regular columnists, Milton Jones (Dollars and Sense and occasional contributor to “A Voice from the Right”), submitted an article with an attached note that read: “This started out as a piece for ‘View from the Right’… Seems more like a view from the CENTER.”
Whoooa. Where’s the fun in political polarizing diatribes if we can’t tell where the Left and Right are? Dozens of political pundits have been telling us for years that the center of political thought in America has been drifting to the right.
The Observer Opinion Page Editor read Mr. Jones article and opined it was clearly flowing from a conservative, right wing, albeit, “Reasonable Republican” point of view but found nothing in the text to indicate it was from the political “center.”
We wonder what our readers think. After you read Mr. Jones’ article about public transportation tell us your opinion on whether this article is a “Voice from the Center” or a “Voice from the Right.” You can vote “Right” or Center” by calling and leaving a message at 839-2121 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also post the article on facebook, Thursday, July 14 and you can comment there.
A Voice from the Center
Political Commentary by Milton Jones. Mr Jones is an Independent Insurance Advisor with experience dating back to 1965. He holds the professional designations of CLU, ChFC, and LUTCF.
There is a segment of our society who will never be pleased by the amount of money being spent on their favorite social program. A case in point are the recent efforts to expand Ozark Regional Transit (ORT). These ubiquitous purple busses play a vital role for the less fortunate among us who otherwise would not have reliable transportation. Of course, they do not pay their way in any sense, and would never have existed except for government grants and subsidies.
Recently, part of that Federal subsidy has dried up. The vision now seems to be that the way to save it is to expand it four-fold and support it by raising local sales taxes. The rest of the story, as I recall, is that Washington County was supportive but Benton County was not. Perhaps some of the Benton County leaders share my opinion that this is too much expansion. Indeed, a good question is “why must we expand it to save it?”
Those who favor expanded social services will cry out “well, it is to serve the need! The problem with the present system is that it’s too limited, and doesn’t meet the need for transportation for the poor.” Of course it doesn’t meet the needs, and probably if the visionaries get their way, the expanded system would still be too limited and still be broke.
Now, as I’ve stated before, I’m not on the extreme right … just a little to the right of center. I agree with the wisdom of a limited system. Some on the right would be happy to see it die; whereas those on the left will always see a need for bigger government role and, consequently, more taxpayer support. Isn’t that how we got where we are in America? Government agencies always want to get bigger, and will do so until the money runs out. If we are ever going to get government spending under control there must be limits! Perhaps many of you would agree, as long as it is not your favorite program being cut.
Only today, I read a story of a small town in East Texas that had eliminated their police force because the city is broke. It was a town about the size of West Fork. I know of no one, even a Tea Party member, who would advocate giving up our police and fire department. We all agree that some government services are needed.
But back to public trans-portation … it is axiomatic that no public transportation pays its own way from rider fares. All such systems require government subsidies. Come to think of it, most private transit systems aren’t doing so well either, even with the subsidies. Yes, everything is subsidized at one time or another. In the 19th century, railroads were subsidized with land grants. In modern times, governments spend large sums to build airports. Barges could not ply the Arkansas River had not massive sums been spent for locks and dams. Even the Greyhound buses travel on public highways. Have a nice car? You couldn’t drive it very far without public roads.
The Obama administration wants to spend large sums for high-speed rail, which will never support itself. Would I like high-speed rail? Yes, in my dreams; if money was no object. Some other visionaries see a “light rail” system between Washington & Benton counties, which would take advantage of the existing railroad. It’s probably not practical. Would I like to see a dedicated high-speed rail to XNA? Yes, in my dreams. But it isn’t the poor we are talking about in this case.
So you must admit we are stuck with some level of government ownership and funding. But what we must resist is creeping Socialism. So you believe in more government ownership or support, but at what point do you become a Socialist? Those of us who believe in the Free Enterprise system have to fight to keep it healthy, lest it be crowded out by high taxes and overly large government. For that reason growth in government must be resisted, however painful the process. We should insist that our children not be brainwashed into thinking that corporations and profits are evil and public services are noble.
In this case, the private sector is not the answer. There is no profit to be had in local transit. Will ORT grow, stay in its present form, or expire? The jury is still out, but lots of citizens are saying “enough of the big government, already.”