Should the subway be free? Most people would laugh at the concept.Primarily, because of some preconceived ideas of economics.”How would we run a subway system if it was free?”
In the same way we could ask “How could we afford abolishing the inheritance tax?”The cost of that little gem would be about $50 billion…per year.This would go towards making the rich even richer, so the money would not really circulate through the average Joe’s pocket,but it would trickle down.By the way the antonym to trickle is flow,and if we want to drink, the water should flow.
I am not an expert on economics, but I am nevertheless going to try some rough calculations.
There were at the last census in 2000 approximately 8m people in NYC and the population has been on a steady increase since the 70’s when it was around 7m.I would therefore guess that by now the population is around 9m, one third of which use the subway or the bus twice daily at $2 each trip. That means that the MTA take in about $12m per day.For those of you who have not done these fairly simple calculations you may want to ask.”What the hell do they do with all that money?”This is a fair question but since I am not an economist I really don’t have the answer.I do know the the MTA has 2 sets of books .This came out in a report from the State Controllers office of Alan Hevesi in April of 2003 and most of you know what happened to him.It was stated in the report that more than 1/2 a billion dollars were shifted into a secret account in order to create a deficit,so an increase could be implemented. So the fares were increased in 2003 despite the fact that there was a surplus of $537 million.Remember the subway strike that took place last Christmas,over wages and pensions that the mayor deemed”selfish and illegal?” I don’t know if I should laugh or cry at this point.But let’s move back to the task at hand which is economics.Our guestimated gross daily income for the subway is $12m per day and the yearly income would then be $4b give or take a million or two.To most of us that would seem like a lot of money but not perhaps to Paul Bremmer who recently dismissed culpability in his oversight of some $12b .360 tons of cash shipped from the US on pallets in military cargo planes, that just fell through the cracks in Iraq,no big deal.
We live in a universe of abundance or so some people believe.Most of those that affirm this,however, are generally pretty well heeled. I don’t believe in anything, which of course is impossible since nothing is still something. Krishnamurti said ” A cup is useful only when is is empty;and a mind that is full of beliefs is really an uncreative mind”Excuse me I digress.Let us just believe in a universe of abundance long enough to make the subway free.Then we will see an immediate infusion of $12m per day injected into the economy,we will see the smiles on the faces of all those who enter into the otherwise hated underground.Our progressive creed will spread all over the world.”NYC has a free subway system,we can do it too.” Sounds like good economics to me.
And then……..the environmental impact.Wow this will jump start America from a world of gas guzzling cars, all going their separate ways, to a community of people all moving together to seriously take on the problems of global warming.Imagine a system of trains and street cars networking throughout America on roads built for cars.Let GM and big oil pay to put back those tracks that they tore up in the early part of the last century.If we can learn to move together,we can learn to work together and together we can knock down the walls that separate us.