Friday, May 29, 2009

One Law for Citizen Mules, No Law for Government Asses?

One of the revelations about government ownership happened in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. As workers walked down tens of flights of stairs, they were shocked to find that there were in total darkness, with no battery pack stairwell floodlights as one finds in the most ordinary of buildings in New York. The reason for this scandal was that the World Trade Center was built by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a regional government entity which feared no tickets from the fire department, another government agency. Until the first World Trade Center bombing turned this lack of lighting into a scandal, this problem remained unsolved. This was a government controlled real estate venture policing itself...A more recent example of what happens when the government owns an industry and its effect on consumer safety and rights was the loss of Lemon Law protection for Chrysler owners, agreed to by the bankruptcy court...When Government Runs Businesses, Consumers Lose, “Jack Kemp” (nom de plume), American Thinker, 5/28/2009

We know all about that in New York, especially New Yorkers with disabilities. Under the Federal ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), mass transit is supposed to be equally accessible to all. The MTA, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut's transit agency, told the feds a dozen years ago that they couldn't manage -- too expensive, too difficult, might cause our consultant budgets to be constrained, might have to eat at Mickey D's. Were they held responsible? Were passengers given some relief?

No. The Feds let a fellow government agency off the hook. Instead, disabled New Yorkers are given the option of Access-a-Ride, a bizarre public/private “enterprise” which, after a decade of lawsuits, revelations about its terrible service and its extravagant abuse of clients, is a barely passable alternative. As an “enterprise” it's one of those bastards created by the opportunistic marriage of public and private. How?

Access-a-Ride carriers do not pay for their equipment nor for the maintenance and insurance of the vehicles. The government of New York City does. The only cost they have to bear is the drivers, a group paid terrible wages for 80 hour weeks. The dispatching of Access-a-Ride was let to a company in Texas, which might explain the bizarre concept of traffic patterns that informs dispatching patterns have.

Compliance too expensive? It costs New York City approximately five hundred million dollars to sustain this illusion of public/private “enterprise” and yields dismal service. The amount of money spent over the past ten years would have paid for ramping all but four very deep subway stops in a system that has six hundred of them. (New York's subways are usually about six feet below the street.) Apparently “private” constituents, the carrier “owners,” mean more than meeting federal law and giving equal service to the disabled minority.

As for the suspension of the Lemon Law for Chrysler, which will probably obtain with Government Motors as well, there's yet another reason not to purchase anything domestic unless it's made by Ford. When you cheat to beat the competition, buyers know. Ask any former customer of British-Leyland. Ask any Russian who had to drive a Lada.


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