Wednesday, 6 February 2013

08:06 – Barbara made a flying visit home last night for dinner and a quick visit before heading over to spend the night with her dad. Her mom is no better and probably worse. She’s still in the hospital and seems likely to remain there at least through this week. There’s been no improvement in her mental condition, which may or may not be a result of the IV antibiotic they have her on for the lung infection. She’s still not eating and is sleeping only because they’ve increased the dosage of the drugs they give her in the evening. Barbara, her sister, and her dad are increasingly concerned that Sankie won’t snap out of it this time. My worry is that even if she does get back to normal and they send her home, the stress of trying to deal with Dutch’s condition will put her right back in the hospital within days.

The stress on Barbara and Frances, and of course their dad, is simply unbearable. Barbara and Frances are spelling each other, taking turns spending the night with their dad, but even that doesn’t help much. When Barbara is off-duty, she’s still spending a lot of time on the phone with Frances and the doctors, talking about what’s going on and making decisions about what’s to be done. The same is true for Frances when she’s off-duty. Neither one of them gets any real break.


09:55 – The USPS just announced that it will end Saturday delivery of first-class and lower mail starting in August. They’ll continue Saturday delivery of Express Mail and Priority Mail. Of course, Congress is supposed to have to approve such changes, but it sounds to me as though the USPS is going to do this whether Congress likes it or not.

I think this change is long overdue. USPS says it’ll save them about $2 billion a year, and few people will be adversely affected by the absence of Saturday delivery. In fact, I think it’s long past time for the USPS to tell Congress to go pound sand. USPS is, in theory, a private business, and it should start behaving like one. All of the financial problems the USPS has been having are directly attributable to Congressional meddling. USPS has hundreds if not thousands of post offices and other facilities that should have been closed long ago. They remain open because Congress won’t allow them to close them despite the fact that it make no business sense to keep them open. And Congress won’t allow USPS to close these facilities because voters object. USPS should be operating as an NGO (essentially, a non-profit), with its original goal of delivering the mail while breaking even. In fact, absent governmental meddling, that’s exactly what USPS is doing now.

40 thoughts on “Wednesday, 6 February 2013”

  1. I’m rarely obsessing over get mail on Saturday unless there’s some parcel I am excited to be getting. Though, I get fewer and fewer parcels via USPS as most of the places I buy from use UPS or FedEx and my family mostly uses UPS to send me packages. UPS and FedEx don’t deliver on Saturday unless you pay extra (which I never do) and it’s never really bothered me much.

  2. I don’t think mail has been delivered on Saturday in Australia since the Seventies. Come to think of it I think at Christmas they have occasionally had Saturday deliveries, but I’m not sure.

  3. I agree with Bob, shut down Saturday delivery and set the USPS free of any government oversight. If the USPS became Union free, increased rates becoming profitable, they would be profitable and offer better service. I rarely receive or send First Class Mail, Email has replaced mail in most instances, I pay my bills online and most packages are delivered by FedEx and UPS. The USPS in my area is staffed with people who have no business working for the USPS.

    Steve in Colorado

  4. I cannot ever remember Saturday mail delivery in Canada. I’m sure we had it at one time, but it has never been a factor in my lifetime. I can attest that live does indeed continue after Saturday postal deliveries are gone.

    Good luck getting rid of Congress’ control, or getting rid of the unions. They’re both Hyenas, and have strong jaws to hold on with.

  5. In our experience here with Saturday deliveries, it’s usually been way late in the afternoon and not much, so we won’t miss it. Then on Monday mornings we get buried. Our local post office is a three-minute walk around the corner from us and in our town we all have boxes there because there is no delivery at all to residential addresses.

    22 this morning and snowing pretty good.

  6. 22 this morning and snowing pretty good.

    66 F this morning and raining pretty good here in the Land of Sugar. My ponds are catching some water. What a wimpy winter we have had! My cocker spaniel loves walking (we walk 2.5 miles five nights a week) in 35 F blue norther with the wind blowing her ears straight horizontal to the ground (that’s a lot of wind!). We have not had that this year.

    The USPS just announced that it will end Saturday delivery of first-class and lower mail starting in August. They’ll continue Saturday delivery of Express Mail and Priority Mail. Of course, Congress is supposed to have to approve such changes, but it sounds to me as though the USPS is going to do this whether Congress likes it or not.

    This just makes too much sense. Doubtless that congress will stomp on it immediately and punish the postmaster general by giving him/her a raise.

  7. Barbara made a flying visit home last night for dinner and a quick visit before heading over to spend the night with her dad. Her mom is no better and probably worse. She’s still in the hospital and seems likely to remain there at least through this week.

    Can her Dad afford a night nurse? It sounds like time to do so. If nothing but to spell them for a night or two.

    The hospital may try to move her mom to a hospice soon. That seems to be the standard of care around here nowadays.

  8. Barbara’s mom isn’t terminally ill. At this point, the internist and psychiatrist that are responsible for her agree that her mental symptoms are most likely a result of the IV antibiotic. They have to continue that until the lung infection is completely gone, and they’re not sure how much longer that’ll be. Barbara couldn’t remember which antibiotic they’re using, so I’m not sure what the usual duration is. A normal course for most antibiotics is a week to ten days, but depending on the particular bacteria and antibiotic some of them may have to run 30 days or longer. In extreme cases, it’s sometimes up to a year or more.

  9. They’re talking about hiring someone to keep Dutch company at night, and possibly both her parents if/when Sankie returns home. Barbara says her dad can afford that, particularly since she doesn’t expect him to live much longer. Probably weeks, possibly a few months. I expect that the next time the EMTs haul Dutch to the hospital will be the last time.

    Barbara told me the last time her dad was in the hospital the staff asked him about signing a DNR. He refused to do that, but did sign something saying he didn’t want to be intubated or kept alive on a ventilator. He specifically did want them to do CPR and the paddles, which I think is a bad decision for him and his family. When my mom was in intensive care, I signed a DNR after they explained to me that CPR would almost certainly break my mom’s ribs and would simply extend her suffering. I think the same is true for Dutch, and I wish he’d signed the DNR so that Barbara wouldn’t have to do it later.

  10. While I feel for Barbara’s parents, I also hope like hell that Barbara and her sister catch a break down there soon. They’re humping the extra miles already. And of course this affects you as well.

    Best wishes and prayers from Retroville North.

  11. Thanks. It’s really no big deal for me. I just hold the fort at home and take care of Colin. It’s Barbara that’s having to deal with all the crap.

  12. You holding the fort and taking care of the mutt allows Barbara to focus on the other stuff, and meanwhile it’s all still in your head as well. May seem like no big deal but it can be.

  13. Somebody holding down the fort is terribly important for a caregiver. It gives them hope that someday all this will be over and they can go back home and have “normalcy”. And it is important to Colin.

    Most of the hospitals around here are using hospice to give non-icu care for someone who is on “maintenance”. Terminal has very little to do with it, it is a way cheaper place to be. Medicare only covers 60 ? 180 ? days in the hospital and then things get dicey unless you have supplemental insurance. Plus our hospitals around here are full to the brim. I was in the hospital for a couple of days in 2011 for my heart and they ended up throwing me into the maternity ward. That is a 400+ bed hospital.

  14. Plus our hospitals around here are full to the brim. I was in the hospital for a couple of days in 2011 for my heart and they ended up throwing me into the maternity ward. That is a 400+ bed hospital.

    Indianapolis hospitals have been full like that for years. When my dad had surgery a few years ago, they wound up keeping him in the recovery room longer than necessary because they were waiting for a room to open up.

  15. All a part of us baby-boomers pushing through the timeline. There will be empty hospitals when we are all gone, just like my high school, which was built for 1,400, and had over 2,400 when I went to school there. Now, that same building serves 500 and these days it is not just high school with that enrollment, but K-12.

  16. I’m ecstatic about the end of Saturday mail delivery. The last thing I have wanted in life is crap mail delivered on Saturday. My wife lived in Alberta in the ’70’s when they stopped Saturday mail, and—as far as I know—no one in Canada has ever missed getting mail on Saturday. At last, we follow an intelligent Canadian practice that has done no one any harm.

    My postman will be upset. He works Saturday and takes off Sunday and Monday. For some reason, he wants Monday off. It is a nightmare to schedule 6-day service with 5-day work weeks.

    I am in favor of stopping this ruse that the USPS is, or should be, a private business. It is provided for in the Constitution and says nothing about making money or paying for itself. I guess the one thing we can be grateful for, is that they do not have to build roads for the mail to travel on, anymore.

  17. BTW, there have been a lot of stories in the news around Indiana, about the increasing unaffordability of the auto as personal transportation for every man, woman, child, and dog. I have not kept track of all of the stories, but I was overnight in Lafayette a couple days ago for work, and their local news had a story about the lack of funds for road repair, and how cars were being damaged by bad roads. It also included a info on how much the per-person cost of autos is increasing—53% over 5 years ago, but they did not give the source of that figure (that figures).

    Lots of wonder about what legislators should do, but not a single mention of constructing a decent public transport system that even third-world China has.

    “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transport”.
    –Gustavo Petro, Mayor of Bogotá, Columbia

  18. At this point, the internist and psychiatrist that are responsible for her agree that her mental symptoms are most likely a result of the IV antibiotic.

    Um. The psych problems are more likely due to her being in the hospital (on top of the previous anxiety and depression) than IV antibiotics. Dementia in the elderly can kick in during a day surgery stay.

    What are they giving her? I can look it up in our PDR to see if psych symptoms are seen.

  19. Sydney seems to be different. I am quite sure that mail is delivered Saturday mornings although I don’t deal with it. It’s mostly bills and stuff for the rest of the family and the wife takes care of that.
    I’m 100% sure that the local post office is open Saturday ’til midday. They probably do most passport services on that day.

  20. My mother had the foresight to specify in her DNR orders that hydration was to be excluded. She also specified that she disliked pain and that the morphine should not be spared. That was in 1989 or 1990. Smart cookie. Had a major CVA in June, 1991 and was in hospital ~2 days before she eventually expired.

  21. Dave B wrote:

    “Indianapolis hospitals have been full like that for years. When my dad had surgery a few years ago, they wound up keeping him in the recovery room longer than necessary because they were waiting for a room to open up.”

    It’s often like that here in Oz too, they’ll put you in a corridor if they have no space. Nothing like that has happened to anyone in my family as I have an extremely pushy sister who does not take “no” for an answer.

    A lot of these problems go away if you have private insurance, as well as paying the compulsory Medicare levy, but then you can have some serious out-of-pocket expenses. I’m glad to have only been in as a day patient – much cheaper.

  22. I think that several times at Christmas when the mail used to be flooded with Christmas cards I’d get mail on Saturday at home, but I don’t think that’s happened for years now. I’m sure they had two deliveries on weekdays and one on Saturday in Oz in the Seventies, when I used to earn some pocket money as a temp postie at Christmas.

  23. Chuck wrote:

    “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transport”.
    –Gustavo Petro, Mayor of Bogotá, Columbia

    Public transport is good if you’re a tourist in a place you’re not familiar with, like London, Paris or Berlin. I use it here to get to and from work but for shopping and many other errands I use my car. Canberra is so spread out it takes forever to get from A to B unless at least one is a major centre and it’s the rush hour. I’ll never give up my car, either in Canberra or Adelaide. If I was in Berlin that would be different.

  24. Marcelo Agosti says on 6 February 2013 at 19:51
    Sydney seems to be different. I am quite sure that mail is delivered Saturday mornings although I don’t deal with it. It’s mostly bills and stuff for the rest of the family and the wife takes care of that.
    I’m 100% sure that the local post office is open Saturday ’til midday. They probably do most passport services on that day.

    Miles_Teg says on 6 February 2013 at 21:43
    I think that several times at Christmas when the mail used to be flooded with Christmas cards I’d get mail on Saturday at home, but I don’t think that’s happened for years now. I’m sure they had two deliveries on weekdays and one on Saturday in Oz in the Seventies, when I used to earn some pocket money as a temp postie at Christmas.

    Australia Post™ Offices aren’t open on weekends, with the possible exception of General Post Offices (GPO head offices) in capital cities. There used to be Saturday morning mail deliveries in some larger cities, and still are occasionally at Christmas rush periods, but otherwise not.

    Some Australia Post major mail sorting centres and associated infrastructure still work(s) over weekends, but that’s about all – not face-the-customer post offices.

    HOWEVER, what are still open are some Australia Post agencies, some still acting out of previous post office premises. They pushed for cost reductions by closing post offices and allowing bids to take them on as private business agencies for Australia Post. Provided they continued to provide a postal service, even if no longer from Australia Post offices, then they regarded their public service obligation as being met. Those agencies may be open during other retail business hours, such as Saturday mornings. In fact, there are newsagencies/paper shops/general stores which have taken on Australia Post agencies, may be open for some part of all seven days a week, and will be happy to sell you a stamp, a loaf of bread, a newspaper and a pencil, whenever they’re open.

  25. Those wishing to keep the USPS operating need to campaign to have postage rates increased to fund 100% of the operating costs, no taxes should go towards keeping the Post office open. Government run businesses never do good.

    We enjoy and pay for three vehicles here, never take public transportation anymore. The issue with public transportation as usual is it’s not fully funded by those using such conveyances. Why should I have to fund someone else’s ride is what it boils down to?

    A developed Country is one where people are free to buy, own and operate their own transportation without being forced to fund someone else’s ride.
    -me

  26. Don, you are nit-picking. I know I can do mail on Saturday and mail is a monopoly here. The sign says Australia Post.

    OK, I’ll concede that I have an Australia Post Agency at the corner “village”. I think they run as franchises. Australia Post also has a lot of mail delivery between major post office sorting centres and smaller offices and agencies done on contracts with third parties.

    Works pretty well.

  27. Saturday delivery was discontinued in Canada in the seventies as Chuck has said. Canada Post has moved to a franchise system similar to Australia. Except for parcels at Christmas, there is no Saturday delivery at all. All business with the post office is done through the franchise locations that are usually in drug stores. They will accept parcels for mailing on Saturday but usually have restricted hours. They are also where I would go to pick up parcels. To that end, Canada Post recently put parcel lockers in the lobby of our apartment building to eliminate that trip.

    I’m also old enough to remember when there were two mail deliveries a day in the downtown business area. That seems so long ago now.

  28. Who wants to go near the post office. In my zip code the po is in an old run down business district, is dirty and beat up. It’s understaffed with long lines. Even the carriers moved out and are dispatched from the next zip code office.
    Just as close is a high end liquor store with a great sandwich deli and a contract po. There are often lines there too but they hustle. If I’m going the other way there is a UPS Store that also does po contract work and they are in a center that has a couple of my favorite lunch spots. Good excuse to just get the mail business done at lunch.
    I’m sure there are many other I don’t even know about. They need to close most of the official post offices and move to the contract model.

  29. Steve in Colorado wrote: “Those wishing to keep the USPS operating need to campaign to have postage rates increased to fund 100% of the operating costs, no taxes should go towards keeping the Post office open. Government run businesses never do good.”

    According to Wikipedia: “The USPS has not directly received taxpayer-dollars since the early 1980s with the minor exception of subsidies for costs associated with the disabled and overseas voters.”

    Congress has effectively shackled the USPS into debt with The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, which forced them to pay $5.5 Billion per year into a retirement fund, instead of paying down it’s debt. A situation that caused their debt to balloon to $8 Billion, while the retirement fund had a $6.9 Billion surplus.

    Business run government is also bad, IMHO.

  30. “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transport”.
    –Gustavo Petro, Mayor of Bogotá, Columbia

    I really cannot stand the general public and I don’t want to share a bus or train with them on a daily basis. I like the personal space I get in my private vehicle. I know I am not alone in that thinking.

  31. Ah, well, the fact is that I don’t like paying for you to have that privilege. My tax dollars figure significantly in the humongous price to provide every American with personal transportation. The cost of personal transportation is not limited to the cost of the vehicles, but also the cost of a massive road system to every house, farm, business, and brothel. But enjoy it while you can, because it will ultimately be unaffordable for all but the very rich. Even then, you will probably have to drive a tank, because roads are deteriorating fast and money to repair them is in short supply. On my drive home from Lafayette yesterday, I saw a billboard encouraging drivers to call an 800 number to report roads in bad condition. It is an effort sponsored and maintained by a motorcycle advocacy group. There have been several deaths of motorcycle riders around the state, directly attributable to the cycle being forced out-of-control at road speeds by highways in bad condition. Good luck to them in getting the state, cities, and counties to spend more money on roads than their coffers possess.

    We enjoy and pay for three vehicles here, never take public transportation anymore. The issue with public transportation as usual is it’s not fully funded by those using such conveyances. Why should I have to fund someone else’s ride is what it boils down to?

    Oh? And only those using them fully fund the roads you use? No, what it boils down to, is that I am funding the roads you use, and why should I have to do that? Without question, public transport provides movement of people at a mere fraction of the cost of the super-expensive American personal transportation system via the auto.

    Now I do not mind being around people—I have to work with them nearly every weekday and shop around them every weekend,—but I never had problem 1 with public transit in Germany (except for months of the reduced S-Bahn service caused by a massive brake maintenance problem, which cost the S-Bahn chief his job); it is not at all impossible to build a comfortable, safe, efficient system. Seats on the Berlin transit were wide enough to accommodate those overweight without touching someone else, seats were upholstered and padded, stops were located conveniently, and transit was library quiet at all times except for kids after school let out between 13:00 and 15:00. And no need to fund massive fleets of school busses used only twice a day, and only 9 months of the year, because the transit system was also the school bus system.

    Those wishing to keep the USPS operating need to campaign to have postage rates increased to fund 100% of the operating costs, no taxes should go towards keeping the Post office open. Government run businesses never do good.

    Guess you are one of the many who do not like observing the Constitution. Postal service is a U.S. Constitutional requirement, including making the post office responsible for building roads to accomplish the purpose. Pretending it should be a money-making business is the first mistake.

    Nevertheless, we paid the equivalent of about US 80¢ for first-class postage in Germany; all delivery inside Germany for first-class was overnight. The US should do the same. And lacking a sure way to opt out of junk mail, its subsidy should be eliminated. You would be surprised how very, very few companies will pay for solicitations when they must ante-up the first-class rate. Junk mail is an intrusion and a rip-off use of taxpayer dollars. And just as I predicted, Tiny Town is discussing charging for trash removal by weight. The robot-armed trucks (made in Germany, BTW) Tiny Town had just bought when I returned, can be equipped with a computer weighing system, just like we had in Berlin, where trash collection by the municipality is billed by weight. When people start having have to pay to get rid of their junk mail, maybe something will finally be done.

  32. I would like this country to try a good number of the ideas illustrated by Chuck from his experiences in Germany but I doubt very much that we ever will, except regionally, maybe, when all the former dumbass choices are no longer viable. This country is WAY different than Germany and other European countries and things just ain’t gonna git done here like Over There.

    For roads and highway stuff, see Walter Block’s book on it; available free of charge as a .pdf at nearly 500 pages:

    The Privatization of Roads and Highways: Human and Economic Factors (2009)

  33. What’s that they used to say about Germany? Oh, yeah. The villages are one kiloton apart. Germany has a population density about seven times higher than the US. Of course Germany has good public transportation. It’s smaller than many US states. The US has good public transportation in places where it makes sense.

    As to the postal system, again Germany is smaller than many US states. They pay about twice as much to mail a letter and it’s delivered overnight. Big deal. In many cases, USPS also delivers overnight in a similar radius, and they do it for half the cost. As to junk mail, Chuck is confused about the subsidy. Junk mail costs the USPS less than it charges in postage; first-class mail is subsidized by junk mail, not the converse.

    As to the cost of roads, there are both federal and state roads as well as local streets, of course. The two latter are (as far as I’m aware) paid for in all cases by state and local fuel taxes, automobile taxes and license fees, and so on. Unless Indiana is a lot different than anywhere else in the country, Chuck is not paying a cent toward the cost of state and local roads and streets. The rest of us are paying to subsidize public transportation. As far as I know, there is no public transportation in the US that does not operate at a loss, made up for by the general taxpayers, most of whom don’t use public transportation.

  34. Chuck’s vision works in many cities, I wouldn’t want to drive in NYC, Chicago or Boston, for instance, or should I say I wouldn’t want to drive there again. In very dense areas, public transportation works. For me, barely at all. For me to drive from my house to downtown is a 15 drive by private car, and an hour and half long (with a transfer) bus ride.

    And Chuck, tax dollars pay for both roads and transit. What the heck do you think the buses would run on, deer tracks? If people who take public transit actually paid the entire cost, they would all buy cars.

  35. As Bob said, the population density of European cities is much higher than most USA cities. For instance, Paris is at most 30 miles by 30 miles and a population of 11 million. Houston is 100 miles wide (East to West) by 60 miles tall (North to South) and has a metropolitan population of almost 8 million. The subways in Paris are great and subways are totally non-existent in Houston. There is no way that we can afford put in trains or subways in Houston with 1/10th of the population density of Paris.

  36. What the heck do you think the buses would run on, deer tracks?

    Two words, my man: Hover bus. Hmm. No, that would be better as one word: Hoverbus. I probably oughta get out and trademark that, but I’m pretty sure I’m too lazy.

  37. Hover bus

    Hey, do you know something that we do not know? I’ve been waiting for my Jetson skycar and Marty McFly hoverboard for years. For years, I tell you!

  38. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    What’s that they used to say about Germany? Oh, yeah. The villages are one kiloton apart. Germany has a population density about seven times higher than the US. Of course Germany has good public transportation. It’s smaller than many US states. The US has good public transportation in places where it makes sense.

    Okay, let’s take this one-by-one. Public transit does not make sense only where population density is heavy; it is without question demonstrably and significantly cheaper per person everywhere. Additionally, the total fuel consumption requirements for personal transportation are massive, as are the emissions impact—for those who care about the latter.

    Now the fact is that the US had a fabulous public transit system prior to WWII, when the population density everywhere—especially of Indiana—was significantly less than it is today. My mom could travel from Tiny Town to the little town of Greencastle, Indiana via a statewide rail system called the Interurban. She could walk from Tiny House to downtown in 10 minutes, catch that train, and travel to DePauw University in Greencastle and walk another 5 minutes to her housing at the school.

    My parents’ generation could attend high school football and basketball games all over the state via that rail system. They commonly travelled from New Castle to Muncie to attend basketball games at Muncie Central. No such access exists today. If you don’t own or have access to a car, you aren’t going to Muncie for a basketball game, or to Greencastle to school—or anywhere for any reason.

    Ask somebody who lived in LA before the 1950’s about public transit there (better hurry as they are dying like flies in a freeze). You could get around that entire city by rail and/or bus.

    As to the postal system, again Germany is smaller than many US states. They pay about twice as much to mail a letter and it’s delivered overnight. Big deal. In many cases, USPS also delivers overnight in a similar radius, and they do it for half the cost.

    Apparently the USPS does not actually do it for half the cost, hence their current financial woes. DHL runs the German post office these days, and there is plenty of evidence that their doubling of rates shortly after taking over, was to rape the Germans so they could sink lots of their money into US operations to try and beat back Fed Ex. That effort has failed miserably and if the US post office is ever truly privatized, I am sure the increasingly insignificant DHL will not be in the running to take it over. Nevertheless, postal rates are higher in Germany than the actual cost to provide the service requires, IMO. That is one of the great benefits of privatization—do the same job for considerably more cost.

    Personally, I do not believe national overnight delivery is impossible, as you do, and I think it should be the norm for first-class mail in the 21st century. If that requires a hike in postal rates, so be it.

    As to junk mail, Chuck is confused about the subsidy. Junk mail costs the USPS less than it charges in postage; first-class mail is subsidized by junk mail, not the converse.

    That is certainly the position of the USPS. But there is ample dissent of that view. The USPS actually—and probably purposely—does not break down their costs usefully enough to examine on a true cost-accounting basis, whether junk mail is a cost-effective product or not. The most recent figures I have seen, show that they take in quite a bit less than half from junk mail delivery than they do from first-class delivery. Whereas, the USPS maintains that junk mail is 3 times the volume of first-class mail. Eliminating junk mail and leaving only 1/4 the workload would certainly reduce the costs by more than half, and since less than half the postage revenue comes from junk mail which constitutes 3 times the workload volume, well, there really can be no contribution that kind of business model offers to hold down first-class postage rates. We first-class rate users are subsidizing the junk mail curse, not the other way around.

    And the fact remains that while I pay full rate to send a birthday card to my kids (just finished that task for both of them this year), it is, at the least, aggravating that the guy across town who sends me an insurance solicitation several times a month—even though I have asked him to stop—pays a mere fraction to send me a heavier load of crap than the birthday cards. All he is doing is insuring I will never buy insurance from him. But I digress.

    As to the cost of roads, there are both federal and state roads as well as local streets, of course. The two latter are (as far as I’m aware) paid for in all cases by state and local fuel taxes, automobile taxes and license fees, and so on. Unless Indiana is a lot different than anywhere else in the country, Chuck is not paying a cent toward the cost of state and local roads and streets.

    Huh? I pay sales tax, state income tax, state property tax, county income tax, local school corporation tax, and state-imposed fuel tax. In Indiana, everything is collected by the state and is then doled back out to the county and local governments (which has gotten royally screwed up under the administration of the mysteriously adulated former governor who is now president of Purdue University). I most certainly do pay for all the roads I travel on via my taxes to the state. But so do you. Indiana spends about $1.5 billion of its own tax revenues on roads, and gets approximately the same, another $1.5 billion, from the Feds which comes out of my pocket and yours. Counties spend another $700 million on their roads from their tax impositions. Every county in Indiana is now mandated to impose taxes, and that was litigated all the way through the Indiana Supreme Court, as some counties refused to enact tax legislation, but were finally forced to.

    The rest of us are paying to subsidize public transportation.

    Which is as it should be. A few things are required for life in the developed world, and cheap transportation for all is one of them. Personal transportation via roads is by FAR the most expensive choice of providing that, and has the additional disadvantage that roads finally become totally clogged with no way to increase traffic volume further. This is now the sad case in Chicago and around NYC and DC. Beyond that, personal transportation via roads and cars is far, far more lethal than public transit. Fatalities in US road crashes has exceeded 30,000 for years. All the deaths from public transit accidents throughout the world are a tiny fraction of that.

    As far as I know, there is no public transportation in the US that does not operate at a loss, made up for by the general taxpayers, most of whom don’t use public transportation.

    As you said above: big deal. Providing for water reserves during periods of drought is a losing proposition, but it is necessary. Fire and police departments operate at a loss. The court system does not pay for itself. School systems do not operate at a profit. Most roads in the United States of America operate at a significant loss. What makes public transit—a far, FAR cheaper method of moving people—take a back seat to a massive, increasingly financially unsupportable road system that still requires people to have to spend tens of thousands on automobiles plus insurance and repair, dramatically increasing fuel costs, and favors the rich and elite over the poor and less financially advantaged?

    Oh, yeah. It’s the American way to screw anybody who is less than upper middle class and leave them out on the street to perish, if they are not smart, educated, or capable enough to become part of a rich elite. No transportation for them. Just for the rich. And while we are at it, let’s make transportation as absolutely costly as possible for them, too.

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