Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The wheels on the bus many not go 'round in Beavercreek

The Greater Dayton RTA has been trying to establish 3 bus stops in my hometown of Beaverceek, OH near the Mall at Fairfield Commons since 2010. The RTA’s proposal for the bus stops has been denied by Beavercreek’s city council for not meeting the council’s design specifications, which include having heating, air-conditioning, and security cameras. Many outlets, including this piece by ThinkProgess, think that the real cause is racism i.e. the mostly white residents of Beavercreek do not want mostly minority bus riders to come into their city. The federal government agrees and has ordered Beavercreek to work with the RTA to build the bus stops or lose federal highway funds.

While I am not sure if racism is occurring since I do not know nor have spoken with any of the current city council members, I do find it interesting that outlets like ThinkProgress and the Huffington Post get all riled up when regulations are used to potentially harm minorities in this case, but not when they are used to do a very similar thing in the cases of the minimum wage, business regulations on food trucks, taxi regulations, or hair braider regulations, to name a few.

In the same way that the Beavercreek city council says that air conditioning and heating are for the comfort of the bus riders and not to keep buses out, the proponents of these other, similar regulations acknowledge the benefits and ignore the costs. The minimum wage gives more money to some poor workers yet decreases employment for the unskilled and prices for consumers. Food truck regulations help brick and mortar stores compete, but drive some trucks out of business. A taxi medallion system might make the taxi system better, but it also would drive out many independent operators who are often minorities. And hair-braiding licenses protect consumers (and established businesses) while driving out startups or keeping them from forming altogether.

I know that a little consistency in the liberal thought process is a lot to ask, but without it it’s hard for me to take their concerns seriously. That being said it would not surprise me if some city council members are uneasy about low-income people coming into their suburban, relatively crime free area. The fact that minorities make up a disproportionate amount of low-income people is what I think leads to the cries of racism; a charge that is very serious and should be made with care, especially by people who have never met the individuals they are charging.

Changing gears away from the logical somersaults of the average liberal, it is discouraging from a federalism point of view that cities and states can be essentially blackmailed by the federal government to do things that they don’t want to do. In this case the federal government is threatening to withhold millions of dollars in highway funds if Beavercreek does not comply with their ruling to work with the RTA to build the bus stops. Cities and states that latch on to Washington’s purse strings often realize too late that it is hard to bite the hand that feeds you.

I personally don't see a problem with having a few bus stops in Beaverceek. And I am fairly certain they will end up being built considering the funding that is at stake. I also wish liberals would argue just as passionately against other harmful regulations as they do for subsidized government programs like public transportation. Maybe some of them will surprise me one day.

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