TriMet, Portland’s transit agency, has made the largest cuts in its history, including reductions in bus service, fare increases, and elimination of free rail rides in downtown Portland (the free bus rides were eliminated last year). Meanwhile, it is using nearly $10 million of money supposedly dedicated to the Milwaukie light-rail line to remodel its offices.
Portland’s mayor and alleged pedophile Sam Adams considers TriMet’s subsidized passes for “youths” to be one of his “favorite program,” so he has proposed to fund it by charging TriMet $2 million for using city property for its bus shelters and benches. What an innovative financial tool!
Apparently, all that broke government entities need to do is requisition funds from other broke government entities. TriMet can build its next light-rail line by charging the state rent for taking cars off the road. The state can fund its k-12 educational programs by charging the universities for the future college students it is providing. The federal government can eliminate the national debt by charging water districts for the clean water that runs off of federal lands. Pretty soon everyone can own money to everyone else and we can all pretend that they cancel out (ignoring, of course, the original investors who will lose their shirts, but they’re probably part of the 1 percent so they deserve it).
Of course, this isn’t exactly a completely new technique. Back in the soviet days, the USSR had rigorous pollution regulations. Whenever a factory violated the rules, it was fined by Moscow planners. When the factory paid the fines, it simply added them to its operational budget, effectively requisitioning the funds from Moscow. So now, whenever an American city or transit agency runs out of money, they can simply call it a collective action problem and requisition funds from some other agency.
Meanwhile, when Portland-area residents democratically use initiative petitions to stop the waste of money on light rail, local officials claim that “They are taking away the voting rights of citizens.” How does giving people a chance to vote take away their rights to vote? According to the mayor of one of Portland’s suburbs, “People elected us to run the city as we see fit, and now they want to take that away from us.” So it is somehow undemocratic to democratically overrule decisions made by officials who you may have elected to office based on entirely different reasons.