Posts tagged ‘NAACP’

Is The Media Actually Waking Up to How Rail is Sinking Public Transit?

Readers will know that this is one of my favorite topics on this blog, how huge investments in showy rail projects that amp up the prestige of government officials tend to cannibalize lower cost bus service and, at the end of the day, actually reduce total transit ridership.  The LA Times almost sortof recognizes this, and Randal O'Toole is on the case:

“Billions spent, but fewer people are using public transportation,” declares the Los Angeles Times. The headline might have been more accurate if it read, “Billions spent, so thereforefewer are using public transit,” as the billions were spent on the wrong things.

The L.A. Times article focuses on Los Angeles’ Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), though the same story could be written for many other cities. In Los Angeles, ridership peaked in 1985, fell to 1995, then grew again, and now is falling again. Unmentioned in the story, 1985 is just before Los Angeles transit shifted emphasis from providing low-cost bus service to building expensive rail lines, while 1995 is just before an NAACP lawsuit led to a court order to restore bus service lost since 1985 for ten years.


Transit ridership is very sensitive to transit vehicle revenue miles. Metro’s predecessor, the Southern California Rapid Transit District, ran buses for 92.6 million revenue miles in 1985. By 1995, to help pay for rail cost overruns, this had fallen to 78.9 million. Thanks to the court order in the NAACP case, this climbed back up to 92.9 million in 2006. But after the court order lapsed, it declined to 75.7 million in 2014. The riders gained on the multi-billion-dollar rail lines don’t come close to making up for this loss in bus service.


Los Angeles ridership trends are not unusual: transit agencies building expensive rail infrastructure often can’t afford to keep running the buses that carry the bulk of their riders, so ridership declines.

  • Ridership in Houston peaked at 102.5 million trips in 2006, falling to 85.9 million in 2014 thanks to cuts in bus service necessitated by the high cost of light rail;
  • Despite huge job growth, Washington ridership peaked at 494.2 million in 2009 and has since fallen to 470.4 million due at least in part to Metro’s inability to maintain the rail lines;
  • Atlanta ridership peaked at 170.0 million trips in 2000 and has since fallen nearly 20 percent to 137.5 million and per capita ridership has fallen by two thirds since 1985;
  • San Francisco Bay Area ridership reached 490.9 million in 1982, but was only 457.0 million in 2014 as BART expansions forced cutbacks in bus service, a one-third decline in per capita ridership;
  • Pittsburgh transit regularly carried more than 85 million riders per year in the 1980s but is now down to some 65 million;
  • Austin transit carried 38 million riders in 2000, but after opening a rail line in 2010, ridership is now down to 34 million.

I will add that total transit ridership has been totally flat in Phoenix after construction of a major light rail project.  The project's total cost is approaching $2 billion as they slowly add on short extensions, but this amount did nothing but cannibalize bus ridership.  In fact, the situation is worse than this, since before light rail was built, Phoenix transit ridership was growing rapidly every single year, so in fact light rail actually likely reduced ridership by about 14 million.  The whole story is here.  (I will have an update in a moment but they have updated the chart from that article and ridership fell yet again in 2015).

I Am Sure We Will Be Seeing These Civil Rights Suits Any Day Now

I try not to get into the voting rules arguments between Republicans and Democrats because at their heart, most of these are totally political.  However, I am fascinated by the claim by Democrats that producing an ID to vote discriminates against blacks, presumably because obtaining such ID puts an undue asymmetric burden on African-Americans vs. whites.

This seems like a crock to me -- I am not sure why obtaining an ID is harder for blacks than whites, though I will observe that the highest profile black man in the country had trouble producing his birth certificate so maybe there is some racial thing here I don't understand.

But if we take the claim at face value, why aren't the TSA and airports being sued by the NAACP?  After all, there is an ID entry requirement and if that is discriminatory for voting, isn't it also discriminatory for flying.  Why isn't the DMV, or the highway department being sued of its ID requirement?  Ditto the federal government, which required ID to enter a federal building.

Update: James Taranto has similar thoughts.  He thought of several I missed, including requirements to show ID (part of the I-9 form) in order to get a job.

A Few Other Thoughts on Danish Cartoons

I am running a three-day off-site for my managers this week, so I am pretty tied up.  I do, however,  want to take a second to observe that the NY Times should be embarrassed by their stance on these cartoons.  Their lame-ass explanation that the immediate cause for a wave of world-wide violence and rioting is not really newsworthy is so transparently bullshit as to be unbelievable. 

And to argue that the cartoons are somehow too inflammatory is just pathetic.  As I posted earlier, these cartoons are nothing.  Hell, check out stuff like this, syndicated by the NY Times.  Clearly the cartoon shown is inflammatory against the US military (as is their right under the 1st amendment), so the issue of being inflammatory is a dodge too.  Hell, the NY Times has run multi-part series designed specifically to inflame people against the rich and successful, or more recently to inflame people against oil companies.  To to say they avoid being inflammatory as a policy is a bald-faced lie.  The fact is that there is an unwritten code today among the intelligentsia as to who it is "OK" to be inflammatory against and who it is not.  It is OK under the code accepted by the NY Times to be inflammatory against rich and successful people, white males, women and minorities who are not Democrats, Christians, the military, and the US in general.  It is not OK to be inflammatory against Muslims, suicide bombers, women's groups, most academics, advocacy groups, or the leader of the NAACP.  In the case of the cartoons above, it is OK to blame Islamic terrorism on the US military, but not OK to blame Islamic terrorism on the teachings of Islam.

This is a symptom of the same disease that inhabits politically correct speech codes at universities.  Specifically, institutions are increasingly banning speech that is "insulting" or "degrading" or "offensive", and then allowing some (but not all groups) of listeners to set the definition of when they consider themselves offended.  Muslims argue that these cartoons are hateful - so the Times reaction is "oh, we are so sorry, we won't publish them."   Can you imagine the NY Times giving executives at Exxon the same ability to define certain speech as insulting to them and therefore out of bounds of publication?  Sure.

I got several emails to my first post that boiled down to the following, "Coyote, what you don't understand is that we in America may not think there is anything out of bounds with those cartoons, but Muslims really are offended by them."  This is exactly my point - what other groups do we allow to effectively get a veto on the press coverage they receive?  Do we give the military the right to say "gee, that cartoon is hurtful to us, don't publish it".  No, and in fact this was just proved recently with the Tom Toles cartoon.  We give military leaders the right to say the first part, that they think is wrong for such and such reason, but we don't give them a veto over publication.  Nor, of course, should we give such a veto to anyone.  So why do we make an exception for people whose idea of political discourse is to burn down some embassies, kill a few priests, and set off a few bombs?  I would love to see the WaPo explain why it published (I think rightly) the Toles cartoon in the face of vociferous objects from the Pentagon and American veterans, but won't publish the Danish cartoons in the face of vociferous objections from violent Islamic totalitarian extremists.  Especially when the Muslim reaction to the cartoons is only serving to demonstrate exactly those qualities of Islam that the cartoons were meant to highlight.

At the end of the day, this whole episode I think will be very useful, in finally putting to the forefront the bizarre speech code many of America's intelligentsia have explicitly adopted, a code that absurdly defines exactly the same speech as alternately "healthy" or "offensive" depending on what specific groups are the target of such criticism. 

Earth to Muslims:  Grow up.
Earth to the NY Times:  The time is long overdue for a serious self-awareness episode.

Postscript: Another bit of irony:  The media often criticizes the administration as being the enemy of free speech, when the very fact of the frequent publication of this criticism without any government intervention tends to blunt the force of the argument.  On the other hand, when the group being criticized actually does respond with violence meant to suppress publication, the media decides that the targeted group is not really worthy of criticism.

Update: Here is a compiled excuse page from major US newspapers as to why they are not publishing.  Read it to enjoy the spectacle of supposedly smart and principled people twisting themselves into ethical pretzels.

Update #2:  Those of you who mainly rely on the TV and print media for news probably haven't seen the actual cartoons.  Here they are.  Internet to the rescue again, printing the news that the NY Times deems not fit to print.

Reparations for Slavery

Groups like the NAACP are actively pursuing claims for compensation from both corporations and governments for slavery in the United States 140 or more years ago (that's 7+ generations in the past).  The particular article linked is on seeking reparations from corporations, but many efforts exist to extract compensation from taxpayers, e.g. you and I.

Lets forget for a minute why I owe money for what my great-great-great-great-great grandfather did to your great-great-great-great-great grandfather.  Lets even forget that my great-great grandparents and all preceding generations of my family did not even live in this country.  Forget even about whether a statute of limitations has been exceeded by waiting 140+ years and seven or more generations to file a claim.

Lets however ask the question of what damages are incurred by the current generation of African-Americans who are decedents of American slaves.  Clearly the slaves themselves were irreparably harmed by slavery, but lets talk about the people who are actually bringing the suit.

If it were not for slavery, then many African-Americans today would be ... in Africa.  And in Africa, they would very, very likely be in horrible mind-numbing poverty (see Live8).  Its hard to pin down a number, but estimates of average incomes in Sub-Saharan Africa are between $600 per year and $1,770 per year.  By comparison, the average income of an African American was $14,397 in 1999 and is certainly higher today, since black incomes are growing rapidly in this country and actually falling in Africa.  And African American life expectancies, which still have some catching up to do with whites in the US, are nevertheless 10-25 years longer than their counterparts in the old country.  Everything from AIDS survival rates to education levels to VCR ownership and Internet access are far superior for American blacks than blacks in Africa.  So in this context, how does one demonstrate economic damages from slavery?

If I were an African American, I would give thanks every day that my ancestors endured the torture and humiliation and horror of slavery so that today my family could live, despite frustrations that sill exist for blacks, in relative wealth and prosperity and good health instead of some sub-Saharan shit-hole.

One Note:  I have certainly gotten some interesting emails on this one, including at least one "you will roast in hell" offering.  One comment I have gotten several times is "But there is no statute of limitations on murder, so how can there be on slavery?"   To which I answer - yes, there is not statute of limitations on murder, BUT, if we fail to catch a murderer in his lifetime, we don't throw his kids or grandkids in jail in his stead, nor do we ask his grandkids to pay reparations for his murders.  If we suddenly could absolutely prove the identity of Jack the Ripper, would we track down all his descendants and sue them for his actions? 

The second comment I get, presumably from African-Americans by the pronouns "I" and "we" used in the emails, is "we had our heritage ripped away".  I will confess that I may have a blind spot on this loss-of-heritage issue.  My great-grandparents were forcibly exiled from Germany about a century ago, and I don't shed any tears for my lost heritage, particularly given Germany's atrocious actions during the twentieth century.  I am thrilled to be an American and reject or at least ignore my German heritage.  I am not at all saddened my disconnectedness from the Kaiser or Hitler, and am not sure in turn that if I was black I would feel a loss from not being closer to Robert Mugabe or any of a zillion other repressive African regimes. 

By the way, in terms of being disconnected from one's heritage,  I have no way to prove it or get the numbers, but I would be willing to be that there are more college students right now studying black and/or African history in the US than in the whole of Africa.