(Note: Though the following is seemingly a local story, it is nationally relevant as yet another example of how the 2008 economic collapse and the ongoing Great Recession is being used to destroy government services at a rate and magnitude unprecedented in U.S. history. Surely it is no coincidence the resultant destruction is providing the Right with irreversible victory in its 70-year war on any such service that does not contribute directly to Big Business profits: indeed here may be the real reason -- or so I am increasingly convinced -- Wall Street slashed the throat of its golden-egg goose.)
Washington state's voters, who loudly and vociferously claim to be the most environmentally enlightened electorate in the nation, have again demonstrated their hypocritical hatred of public transport by voting 51-49 to cripple (and thereby effectively destroy) the already meager bus system that serves Bellingham and Whatcom County.
In an unusually high special-election turnout of 46 percent, 26,463 voted against the system, while 25,528 voted to preserve it.
The outcome is all the more significant because it strongly suggests the similar tax increase essential to preserve Pierce Transit, the bus system that serves Tacoma and Pierce County, is likewise doomed.
Without a voter-approved tax increase of 3/10ths of a cent -- a mere three pennies on a $10 bill -- Pierce Transit will have to cut its service by 57 percent. Transit authority officials say this will wipe out all suburban bus routes and reduce inside-the-city operations to a Third World level: once per hour during the work week, no service on evenings or weekends.
The proposed tax increase that was rejected by the Bellingham and Whatcom County voters would have been only 2/10ths of a cent: two pennies on a $10 bill.
Big Automotive and Big Oil oppose the tax increases and favor the transit cutbacks because they will force the populations of the afflicted areas back into near-100-percent dependence on privately owned automobiles.
Bellingham is the northern end of the Puget Sound metropolitan area -- Pugetopolis -- which despite its self-proclaimed environmental consciousness and a dependably liberal/Democratic majority is the most notoriously anti-transit population in the United States.
No other urban Americans -- the total Pugetopolis population is 4.1 million (nearly twice that of Chicago) -- are so stubbornly wedded to their ecocidal gas-guzzlers.
As a result Pugetopolis has the worst mass transit of any comparable metropolitan area, certainly in the nation, probably in the world.
Since 1968 it has defeated five of seven regional transit measures and similarly rejected an untold number of local proposals. Even the region's defenders admit it's public transport is 40 years behind that of the rest of the United States.
This wrenchingly dismal record -- and the xenophobia, bigotry and anti-Jewish malice at its source -- is described in much greater detail in "The Breathtaking Hypocrisy Of The Anti-Transit Evergreen State," my blog post of 29 April and its associated links.
Ironically, I began writing that post on the 27th -- the very day Whatcom voters were proving my point.
This was unbeknownst to me until this weekend, and even then I only happened on the story by accident. (The lack of coverage by local dailies here is beyond frustrating: indeed these papers deliberately cover matters of interest only to readers with substantial disposable incomes -- the most advertiser-directed and therefore socioeconomically discriminatory mode of journalism I have ever seen anywhere.)
On the radical downsizing of the already minimal Whatcom County bus system:
On the bigotry and xenophobia behind the region's glaring hostility to mass transit:
(Scroll down for my immediate reply to an anti-transit screed published in a local "liberal" journal; then go a few comments further for my detailed response. This material is also linked through "The Breathtaking Hypocrisy Of The Anti-Transit Evergreen State.")
LB/10 May 2010