Have a Koch, Walk for Miles

One of the industries that “millennials” are “killing” is the auto industry, which is being caused by two factors: 1) most are so inundated with debt that the financing is either frustrating or impossible; and 2) many are being more environmentally conscious and choosing not to drive. However, regimes are tricky and die hard. Often, they mutate and develop new strength as the same argument in a different light.The auto industry is private, which is why there are so many car dealerships, and the only motored transportation other than cars is public transportation. Simple math dictates that profit can only be gained if a good/service (transit is both) can be acquired by the masses, and private entities are informing the masses that they are not going quietly into that good night.

First and foremost, public transportation requires both political and financial social agreement. If enough people resist the concept, then there is no alternative. Smaller communities struggle with this not because there is no interest, but it is literally impossible to gain a significant social agreement within rural areas. However, segregation makes it probable that larger metropolitan areas will fail to gain the momentum for reliable public transit. It is quite powerful to tell the “good neighborhoods” that “bad people” might enter from “certain areas,” and that “their money” would be used to “subsidize freeloaders.” Even easier, people intimidate the public with the notion of who might be on the transit, further exacerbating class differences and alienating the disenfranchised.

Getting living wages requires access to a variety of jobs, and without quality public transportation, it is literally impossible to obtain anything other than the lowest paid positions in service sector. Many would argue that the same segregationists work hard to ensure that jobs are located far away from “bad neighborhoods” so that their employees can avoid “those people.” If transportation were accessible by all, most of the professional work would be done by a variety of people. Some argue that there are select private employers who transport their own workers, but those employers are anomalies, not trends.

Finally, giving people the option of how to live is critical to determining how people can manage receiving lower wages. If three hours are spent either driving or in transit every day, that determines who can work the extra hours to make more money or take a few classes to improve skills. Gas money can take the place of food money if people are too far away, and then certain workers are unable to participate in the culture of the workforce, making them more vulnerable than people who can afford to choose whether to walk, bike, take transit, or drive. Public transportation costs are quite small in comparison to the cost of vehicles, and legal requirements mean that cars can cost more in some states than others, especially based on insurance.

The final odious factor of removing public transportation from the conversation is that it demands profit just from the task of moving people around their communities. Most public transit is used by people of color, and without it, most people would be trapped and be forced to work low-wage jobs with no opportunities for upward mobility. People cannot stay home all day, and it becomes prudent to allow opportunities for marginalized communities to exist without erecting so many barriers. After all, without substantial financial resources, what are a few activists to the Koch machine?

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