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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

by capper

My grandfather was born in Upper Michigan, but when he was still a baby, his family moved back to the Marche Region of Italy. When he turned 18 years old, he moved back to the United States, just in time for the Great Depression. Those years taught him to be frugal, to a fault.

One of the favorite family stories is how Grandpa bought some frozen pizzas that were on sale for 50 cents each. He was so proud about the money he saved. But after he ate the first one, he found out that they tasted terrible. He ended up going back to the store to buy mozzarella, pepperoni, and onions to put on the others, to make them tolerable. He ended up spending a lot more than if he had bought a more expensive, but better tasting pizza.

In other words, he was being penny wise and pound foolish.

This story came to mind when I read a comment from "Andy" who was expressing his opinion on one of my many posts on how Scott Walker has been ruining the transit system in Milwaukee County:
Ideally, I don't want any of my tax dollar to go to support the bus because I never use the bus system. Plus, If I ever do have a need to ride a bus, I would rather pay my fair amount that keeps the bus running at that time. I know this doesn't help those who use the bus now, but if you were in my shoes, you would understand my view.

I would also like to add my theory about why ridership is going down. I drive through the Marquette interchange every day on my way to and from work for the past 10 years. I have found that traffic flows very nicely most of the time. The only exceptions is when the weather kicks up and when there is a crash. I would have to say that rush hour in Milwaukee is better for drivers than in most other major cities. I'm also sure that it will get even better once the construction is over later this year. Combine that with the facts that a car is more comfortable, more personnel, and faster at getting you to your destination (especially if it changes for some odd reason) are good contributing factors in the drop in ridership.

Andy Homepage 03.05.08 - 7:53 am #

In other words, Andy didn't want his tax dollars go to something he doesn't use, and sees no value to him in having to sustain it. He is being penny-wise.

What Andy doesn't see, is that a healthy transit system helps get people to jobs, where they can earn a living, and not have to take government hand-outs. He also doesn't see that having a supply of workers would be attractive to a business, which would also help the local economy, and make things better, and less expensive for everyone. As in my previous post, I would refer the reader to mid coast views for a very well done explanation of how this works.

Another fine example of what can happen when a transit system isn't properly maintained and operated is laid out by Rob Henken at Milwaukee Talkie. For those who aren't familiar with his name, Mr. Henken was the director of Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services for several years. He was then promoted to Walker's inner circle as the administrative services director. After a short time, he left the County altogether and became president of the Public Policy Forum. (Rob's leaving the county puts a chill through my spine, especially if Walker were to win again. He pulled Walker's budgetary bacon out of the fire on many occasions.)

Another example would be set forth by Brew City Brawler, who compares our broken parks to the broken windows philosophy of policing. This again shows us where Walker saves a buck or two in the short term, but costs us much, much more in the long run.

Of course, Walker might very well be aware of the folly of his chosen course of action. If he is, he is probably hoping to be out of here, maybe in the Governor's Mansion, maybe in Washington D.C., if Sensenbrenner ever retires, before the fecal matter comes in contact with the air propulsion device. And then, it will be us that will have to clean up the mess, and that is a very expensive prospect.

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