While I study for my 1L law school exams, I’ve recruited a guest post or two for the next few weeks. Today, Chris Carrera, better know as the East Village Idiot, offers up his take on the response to the Ravitch Plan. As a general note, if anyone reading wants to contribute to SAS, feel free to contact me.
Now that the Ravich Report is out, New York’s politicians are lashing out in defense of “the little guy.” Unfortunately, it seems that those speaking out against the recommendations aren’t clear on who “the little guy” is. Here’s a glimpse of their perception of this mysterious citizen:
“Raising annual fees for driver licenses to $50 would yield nearly $300 million.” – Micah Kellner, Assemblyman (D-Manhattan)
Kellner’s perception of the little guy: a Manhattanite in his district who never, ever drives, and sees absolutely no need for a drivers’ license. He never drives for work, he never drives when he travels, and he never drives to relocate. Everyone else, however, should be forced to pay outrageous annual fees – nearly five times what any other state’s resident pays – isn’t the little guy, and should be screwed, even though they too rely daily on the transit system that this fee would fund.
“Placing tolls along these bridges penalizes people for living in The Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and Brooklyn boroughs, especially those who don’t have the best access to subway and bus transportation.” – Bill DeBlasio, City Councilman (D-Brooklyn)
DeBlasio’s perception of the little guy: someone lives and works in the outer boroughs. If you live and work in the same outer borough, East River tolls are of no consequence to you. If you live in, say, Queens and work in the Bronx, you have to pay $10 in tolls every day during your commute (unless you severely inconvenience yourself via the Queensboro Bridge, FDR, and Harlem River bridges). If you live in, say, Brooklyn and work on Staten Island, you have to pay a $10 toll every day during your commute. Forget about those people, because the real “little guy” is the one who lives in Brooklyn or Queens and works in Manhattan, an island with quite possibly the best mass transit in the world… who doesn’t take the Queens Midtown or Brooklyn Battery Tunnel (also $10 in tolls every day).
“How can you tax people to enter Manhattan when you don’t provide them reasonable alternatives?” – Simcha Felder, City Councilman (D-Brooklyn)
Felder’s perception of the little guy: someone who lives in an outer borough and wants to get to Manhattan who lacks “reasonable alternatives.” This “little guy” does not find 23 subway lines, 38 express and local bus routes, or 5 commuter rail lines to be “reasonable alternatives.” These are all infinitely less expensive alternatives than driving to Manhattan under any circumstances now, before any tolls are instituted on East River crossings. But they’re unreasonable to this “little guy,” and are therefore not the best choice for solving the MTA’s fiscal crisis.
It’s time for opponents to the Ravich plan to fess up: They don’t have a good explanation as to why they’re against tolling the East River crossings, they don’t have a reasonable suggestion to raise the revenue needed otherwise, and they don’t really know or care that a small group of people, if any at all, will be inconvenienced by the Ravich plan, which literally millions of New Yorkers will stand to benefit from. “Just because” is not a reason to block a plan that will keep our city’s lifeline from falling into an irreparable fiscal crisis.