Starving transit is just one part of a broader attack on the public sector, thus on middle-class society, and ultimately on democracy itself.
The anti-union charter school movement, is a shot at the heart of democracy: public schools. There is also an internal attack on them by computer companies pushing both hardware and software, often in the guise of standardized testing.
Expansion of religious control over health care threatens separation of church and state, as well as our health. Medicaid, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act were examples of rolling back the power of Big Medicine, but those advances did not come easily and are not irreversible.
Broad surveillance, both governmental and corporate, violates our constitutional right to privacy and thus impairs democracy itself. Consolidation of broadcast power is a kindred invasion. Postal service and prisons are being privatized.
The conservative movement has a big appetite; they would repeal the First Amendment; they would rescind The Enlightenment. We have only slight, indirect influence on any of those fronts, but something that we can do here and now to stop them is save Metro Transit.
Damage from massive cuts in bus service would dwarf damage from the proposed tax increases. We should not let hamstringing of bus service be collateral damage in the quest for the holy grail of ultra-progressive taxes. There is no effective, relatively painless way to avert the cuts.
When viewed broadly, the impending 17-percent cuts to Metro Transit should not be compared with current service levels, but rather with levels that would have existed had other recent cuts not been imposed. As it is today, buses on many routes are standing room only, not only at commuter times, but through the day and evening. From that perspective, the cuts are much larger than 17 percent.
The assault on public transportation unleashed by the Republican coalition in the state senate is just part of their anti-transit, anti-union, anti-urban program. Fighting rail on the 520 bridge and defeating the Columbia River bridge because rail was planned for it are other recent examples.
There is one way that we can fight back this spring against the right-wing juggernaut: accept its minor tax increases and vote for Proposition 1. The increases are minor because they are not nearly as regressive as usually painted. The sales tax is the most heavily targeted “regressive tax,” and it is regressive, but only when it’s applied.
Major necessities of life are exempt – housing, groceries, medical and dental care, prescription drugs – as are library books, public transportation, and city parks. Restaurant meals, a luxury by comparison with the grocery store, are subject to the sales tax.
The proposed increase comes to a penny on $10 dollars.