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gwen
gwenix
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April 2011
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gwen [userpic]
*sigh*

So, I am reading up on the Stop Drink tax, and trying to get a feel for the history of alcohol taxes in general, etc, and I keep coming across this line:

The people who are purchasing poured drinks are not the same people riding the buses.

Really? The set of people who drink is different from the set of people who take public transportation? Is that so? Well, I suppose that I do not exist then -- since I am a member of the Pittsburgh Beer Society and buy beer on tap at many places frequently, AND I use public transportation almost daily (excepting weekends). Also, when I see my fellow bus patrons, they are usually of drinking age. Who is to say that none of these people are buying drinks at their local restaurant or bar?

I mean, even if you assume that the people who take the bus are poor (which is not necessarily the case), why would the assumption then be that the poor don't buy alcohol? Isn't that contrary to studies and widely held opinion? Weird. Even in a covertly bigoted statement, the bigotry is only used for convenience -- oh, well, I guess I shouldn't be surprised there.

But it makes me squeamish for another reason. See, I live in a bar district. I really love my neighborhood, except that I really hate going out at 2am. Why? Because all of the drunks come out of the bar and get into their cars and drive away. So I will twist the above statement around and point out:

WHY are the people who are purchasing poured drinks then not riding buses?

It's a rhetorical question here, I need not get into the answers to that question in this post; I am using that question to only point out that the original presumption of people who drink are not on the bus is... a very poorly thought out idea. We should not be proudly proclaiming this line in any context, because in any group of people drinking, a fair number of them absolutely should be taking the bus.

Current Mood: quixoticquixotic
Comments

I think you're taking it too literally. They aren't really saying that no bus riders drink. Or no drinkers ride buses. They're saying that the two sets are not one in the same. If you are a drinker and non-busrider, like say me, then why should you be forced to subsidize those who do ride the bus? Or at least so the argument goes... if the Man needs more money for the bus system, then he should tax the bus riders.

To take it the opposite way, the people who drink are not the people who drive on the turnpike. I drink, and I drive on the turnpike, but why should you as a busrider be responsible for subsidizing a road that you never drive on. That's what the turnpike toll is for.

Or so goes the argument anyway.

Of course, when I'm ruler, I'll be restructuring the entire system and the whole thing will be moot.

Taxing users is a zero sum game.

So many things are subsidized, I'm unsure why *this one* is so consistently a bone of contention.

Like, I'm not feeling I got much use of the army recently.
Or, heck. Those locks on the river? I don't even *have* a boat.

yep... I agree (its a zero sum game). I was just weighing in on the argument. i don't really believe it. I don't think *this one* is a bone of contention. I think that people notice the ones that affect them. People bitch about where their taxes are going constantly.

- I don't smoke. Why should I pay for socialized healthcare when smokers are creating risk?
- I don't like [hockey/football/baseball] why should I pay for the new stadium?
- I have a job. Why should I pay for welfare?

I don't think think this one is special or new. I just think its this weeks thing to bitch about.

So you're saying this is the same argument as, "I don't have children who attend public school, so I shouldn't subsidize public education."

Then perhaps it then be argued, "My house has never caught on fire, so why should I subsidize the fire department?"

While you may say that this is different, because perhaps our house might one day catch on fire... My point is, many of the people who are drinking should be taking the bus, and that affects not only those who are drinking, but those of us who are on the road when they're done drinking. So while my house has yet to catch on fire, or my car hit by a drunk driver, I would love to throw money at alleviating these problems.

nope... I'm not saying that at all. THEY are saying that. I'm just interpreting what THEY are saying into something more intelligible.

and I see your points. But I think THEY have a valid argument as well. The fact that I happen to agree a lot closer with you than THEM, doesn't mean I can't see their point.

The people who are paying income tax are not the same ones invading small countries.

Even if it's true, obviously by precedent it doesn't matter.

because in any group of people drinking, a fair number of them absolutely should be taking the bus

no, no, they're supposed to be taking cabs 'cause it's too hard to navigate a bus schedule and get on the right bus when you're drunk...

Oh, hey! You keep trying to IM me when I'm not actually around!

As a note, I've been mostly online during work this week due to the insane rehearsel schedule. However, I see all IMs sent me when I get in, so feel free to leave messages there!

The people who are purchasing poured drinks are not the same people riding the buses.

That's a pretty libertarian argument. Every tax is about taking wealth from one group and using it to fund the common good (or at least the perceived common good). Once you accept that only bus riders should fund public transportation, then you quickly have to agree that public transportation should get no public money at all; it makes more sense just to raise rates and make the bus riders pay for it all.

The statement requires that you tacitly accept that only people who use a service should pay for it. It also implies that bus service is only useful to bus riders, which I do not accept (it reduces traffic, it reduces emissions, it enables poor people to hold jobs when they might otherwise need public support). It's begging the question.

So I think your post makes sense, but wastes time refuting an argument that is already spurious.


However, as I argued in pittsburgh, I think conflating the issue should drinks be more heavily taxed? with should we bail out public transportation? is a problem. It's kind of two separate arguments.


Anyway, to address your rhetorical question: bus service for the "post-bar" crowd, after 2am, is pretty poor. That is a problem, and why I answer should we bail out public transportation? with a qualified "yes"; I also think Port Authority needs to be more accountable, they don't seem to be run very well.

There are also sociological problems; people want to barhop, or be able to go home with someone they meet at a bar, or whatever. Not knowing much about bar culture, I don't feel qualified to address these problems.

Anyway, to address your rhetorical question: bus service for the "post-bar" crowd, after 2am, is pretty poor. That is a problem, and why I answer should we bail out public transportation? with a qualified "yes"; I also think Port Authority needs to be more accountable, they don't seem to be run very well.


There are a lot of issues contributing to the problem, actually, and most are tangential to the point I was trying to make, which is why I made the question rhetorical. I should actually just open up discussion about why public transportation isn't used as much in Pittsburgh as other cities at some point, really.

But yes, one problem is that the bus service is not very good. The 54C does run out of the Southside until 2:14am towards Mt. Oliver, but only until 12:43 towards Oakland. Given that a lot of the drinkers I see are students, this is kinda useless. Combine this with the fact that taxis are not easily hailable here (though, many will in the Southside), people just feel like they need to bring a car to ensure getting home.

Another problem is that there is a very big belief among many in Pittsburgh that the only people who use the bus are the poor, so using the bus -- even for doing something smart like post-drinking -- is considered "lowering oneself".

Further, people like to come down here in large groups. It seems easier, I think, to coordinate a few cars to bring them down than trying to get everyone to a bus stop at a certain time.

Those are just a few of the big barriers I see. It is ridiculous though, driving here at 2am is just plain dangerous, and in my opinion, this is something that should really change.

On this point:

However, as I argued in pittsburgh, I think conflating the issue should drinks be more heavily taxed? with should we bail out public transportation? is a problem. It's kind of two separate arguments.

Ideally, I'd like to see the drink tax money going towards expanding the night service of buses to the bar districts. But that might be me speaking selfishly. :)

I always find it amusing when a tax is proposed as a way to deter people from doing things that have been labeled as "bad"- specifically smoking and drinking. Frankly, the government doesn't want these "bad" habits to go away - because they count on the enormous tax revenue generated AND, at least with cigarettes, they're subsidizing the farmers. Its kind of schizophrenic when you think about it - we don't want people smoking or drinking but we'll subsidize the production of these products.

As far as taxation in general, I think we should just be taxed on our consumption - a general sales tax. Just do away with all other taxes and have one single sales tax. The feds, as well as the state and local folks get their cut. You figure, its 6% in PA now, maybe add 1% for your municipality and maybe another 5% for the feds - so its 12% sales tax on everything...which seems like a lot, but if you aren't getting deductions from your paycheck you have a lot more cash. Its fair, because you pay proportionally based on what you consume as an individual. If you make more you spend more, so you'll pay more in taxes. We could do away with the IRS, as we wouldn't be filing taxes any longer - we'd just pay at the register. No more loopholes for the rich, just pay your way.

Just an idea....probably naive and oversimplified....fueled by not enough coffee.

The problem with that plan is that it penalizes spending and rewards saving. Spending is how the national economy is fueled; it's how money is provided for people's jobs. Further, the people who can afford the save the most money, and thus evade the tax more, are the rich -- the very people who should be spending to help pay for the working man's jobs.

So while that seems like a good idea, it's actually not very good in practice.

See, told ya I didn't have enough coffee!!!

Seriously though, perhaps the spending issue would be resolved by the fact that people would have more disposable income, since they wouldn't have deductions made from their paychecks....

I don't know...there just has to be a better way without screwing people.
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