Saturday, February 13, 2010

MTA Symptomatic of Nation’s Ills

I read a column in the Saturday, Feb. 13 edition of the Poughkeepsie Journal by John Rolfe. It was on the first page of section B and is also probably on the PJ website. You may want to read it. He made some points that I’d like to expand upon.

He said the financial problems of the New York MTA mirror the attitude of this country in general. Buy now, pay later. Take on more debt than you could possibly repay. Spend and tax (or raise prices).

We see this kind of mentality everywhere. For example:

People took out home mortgages that were impossible to repay, with banks making these loans with backing from Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae. This foolishness precipitated the near financial collapse of 2008-2009.

Consumer debt is ridiculously high, with credit card debt at a level that could jeopardize our financial system. I can see the possibility of massive defaults on consumer debt, which would precipitate another financial crisis. Consumers have run up this debt with abandon. I think some people don’t actually realize they have to pay this back to the credit card companies!

We see governments at all levels incapable of reducing spending. Outlays on pet projects and for special interests remain, so taxes go up 10-15%, adding extra burdens to people who haven’t seen a raise in years. How much can we take?

Similarly, school districts don’t know how to cut expenses either. They threaten to and actually do eliminate educational programs and lay off teachers, while keeping expensive sport and extra-curricular programs. Isn’t a school’s core mission to educate? Again, they raise school taxes rather than cut costs, and charge fees for these extra-curricular programs and sports.

Of course the MTA is the poster child for mismanagement, fraud, waste, and profligate spending. The above-cited article mentioned that two MTA mechanics made $200,000 a year in overtime in addition to their base salary! How could that be possible? I blame staff incompetence, lack of controls, poor oversight, and management that doesn’t care (but makes the big bucks plus perks).

Not only should we individuals clean up our act and act wisely, but we must demand better fiscal management by our governments at all levels and school districts. They can’t go on raising taxes like this. That why we’re having TEA (Taxed Enough Already) parties – people are fed up. Enough is enough!

I mention these because I don’t believe God created us to live beyond our means, to have to pay oppressive taxes, or to be ripped off by the MTA. When materialism becomes our god and accumulation of stuff our main goal in life, we are pretty shallow. These will not fulfill or satisfy, plus it is idolatry. Jesus came so that we could have life, and have it abundantly. That doesn’t mean material abundance, but spiritual abundance, which truly satisfies.

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