« The Perils of Prohibition | Main | Life Imitates AntiRust: Considering What Forests Are For »

Comments

Ed Heath

Where do you want to go with this, because you can wander in a conservative or a liberal direction?

Let's say the obvious. Many of the poor who were warehoused in large skyrises did not have jobs, were living on welfare and had the kinds of issues we know about. Their future prospects were dim, the kids who lived in the building knew that and were perfectly happy to run around the place tearing it up, many residents turned to various illegal trades to supplement their incomes, making living there dangerous. In the 70’s through the 90’s law enforcement technology (cameras, etc) was not as good, and made keeping highrises safe very difficult. The more stories, the easier for criminal elements to operate freely and the harder for police to respond to problems.

Obviously some high rises in some cities like New York, Chicago or LA are very desirable places to live, because they are quite close to very well paying jobs (or for some housing market reason I don’t know about). Public housing is not going to be situated in desirable neighborhoods (see eminent domain?), and if East Liberty of the 80’s and 90’s is any example, the businesses located around public housing are not going to be attractive places to shop.

I mean, I understand the question, why are high rises bad for the poor, and on it’s face it’s a reasonable question. The point is, the poor and crime go together, and the highrises helped create a critical mass kind of problem.

The more serious questions include; could we be building horizontal slums? Absolutely. Houses built on the public dime do seem more like a faux-real life, on the cheap, but maybe these manufactured “Leaver to Beaver” neighborhoods will still fall apart and become cesspools. But the answer to your basic question about the number of stories is that it worked out that lots of stories were linked to lots of problems, so in our experience, two stories is more humane. Especially when only two years old, and maybe only for now.

Sam M

Ed,

Excellent point. And exactly the ones I was getting at.

I find it interesting that of all the things wrong with the "old way" of public housing, the one specifically beig demonized here is density. I mean, if you think that the only thing wrong was the fact that there were notmixed incomes there, you might build mixed-income high-rises. But that's not what they did. And I find that interesting, especially given the discussion we have been having here about the role that density plays in creating a "functional" city.

I think this might offer some indication of the bias people have against density. I just think they associate it with two kinds of living--very rich and very poor. Which is what people think of cities. A lot of people in America today only have one experience with density--college living. Yeah, it convenient to be in the dorms. They were close to bars and restaurants and shops and "work." But I think that people consider this somehow... I am not sure what to call it. Unserious? To Americans, serious means a mortgage and a yard and a garage for the minivan.

Which is the wrong way to lok at things. Or at least could be the wrong way to look at things.

We have spent about 60 years convincing people to move out of cities. And it is going to take a long time to get them used to the idea again. I just thought that this article was interesting, not for its parallels to the debate over high-end condos, but for the notion that a city advocate like Daly could turn so completely against high-rise living. At least in this case.

I mean Chicago is a big place. And they could probably use a lot of housing downtown. And a two-story townhouse development gets you about as few units as you can get. I am sure it's nice and all. I just wonder where this fits into the density debate.

Sam M

Part of the problem, I think, is the fact that we are "spoiled." One of the things people like about living in the suburbs is that lots space allows us to do what we want to do, and it also insulates us from people who do things we don't like. And if there is one thing that defines this tolerant society, it's intolerance. At least when it comes to smells and noises.

Check this out.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/06/realestate/06cov.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

My favorite is the former smoker who is shocked--shocked!--that someone in her buildings smokes. Can you imagine the indignation she would have displayed five years ago if someone had complained about her smoking?

In my mind, this is a pretty serious hurdle. Not so much in keeping people in the city. But in getting people back to it.

But maybe it's more dire than I think. People in NYC of all places just can't stand the notion that SOME bars might allow smoking. And people moving into Fells Point in Baltimore complain about the bars.

I guess its just a case of people, as always, wanting the best of all worlds. They want hip city living. But they want a lot of space and a place to park and they want to do whatever they want but prevent everyone else from doing anything. Perhaps we should all suck our thumbs a bit, throw a tantrum or something, then start all over.

I'm as guilty as the next guy, but density, which seems to be the order of the day, is going to throw a lot more of us into closer contact.

sheel

Can someone bring an Oak Hill perspective to this discussion - I've only recently learned about this huge successful development in Oakland/Hill District. I've heard that Allequippa Terrace was a terrible place to be but the new development with mixed income housing is a huge success- case in point, 2 MD and PhD friends of mine recently purchased a townhome there for $140k that was originally sold at project completion for $80k.

Here's a recent article in the PG
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06177/701156-192.stm

Ed Heath

Well, I wonder about the future of mixed income housing. I remember a 60 Minutes story about housing vouchers, ironically in Chicago. The African American single mom who was moved out of the ghetto to the suburbs had then found a job and her daughters were now honor's students. This because they were now in a positive (white, middle class) environment. But I think the positive environments doesn’t want the people from the ghetto in there. So the next best thing? Offer suckers “mixed income housing”. Like you said Sam, $1500 rent for you, $400 for your neighbor. Except that pretty soon it will all be $400 renters.
I don’t know, I hope Oakhill does work out well, I really do. But you know what, there isn’t a serious grocery store within, what, two, three miles?
Sam, have you driven around Whiteman Street in Squirrel Hill between Beacon and Pocussett? There is some serious Apartment living there, and in Shadyside. Some of them are in fact the flip side of dorm living; faculty living. But others are people who have passed on a yard in favor of still being able to walk to the grocery store. What’s funny about Pittsburgh is how we are still able to make apartment living look like neighborhoods, if not suburbs. I mean, the packed, English look of Bloomfield and Lawrenceville non-withstanding, there’s a bunch of trees ‘round most places, even the big apartment buildings of Shadyside and Squirrel Hill.

John Morris

Sort of don't have time to disect all the fallacies implied in this one.
Ed points out a lot of them. As usual, the best source of dope on this subject is in Jane Jacobs-- Death and Life of Great American Cities. She laid out these project disasters years ago and explained every aspect of thier disfunction.

Housing Projects of the type described were actually the products of people who hated cities and what they saw as the "uncontrolled chaos" of urban life. For the most part most of these projects are huge buildings or complexes of huge buildings surrounded by nice areas of grass ( which was the cure for all ills ) ussually plunked down in some area safely away from stores jobs etc... almost all traditional "projects" have no stores at all near them. They are set away from the street and thus create easy vacume ares for crimes to happen and they are absolutly butt ugly. Often they are placed in areas cut off by highways ( further isolating the non driving poor project residents ) In places like the South Bronx they often were built to replace neighborhoods destroyed by highyway construction.

They are best described as vertical "reservations" or dumping grounds for poor people. A lot of whom were pretty pissed off when they arived.

As was pointed out the really big buildings really have to have security ( all the luxury NY buildings have doormen.

The important point about high rise demand is that the main benefit offered by this type of area is it's potential for high convenience-- lots of stores, lots of choices and close proximity to work. Government planned projects did not offer those things. Always there was designed in some grass and some swing sets ( which were useless when the shooting started )


John Morris

One way of showing that a lot of these problems came from poor design is that similar or almost identically designed complexes wer built by private developers and pitched to the middle class. NY has a bunch of them and most are not doing well at all. The biggest one in the NY area is called Co-Op city in the northern Bronx and I think that it likely to have to be torn down. It's a huge number of towering star shaped apartment buildings isolated by masses of highways and grass with one supermarket and that's about it. I feel very deeply for the poor suckers who moved in to that place. Other similar places are Lefrak City in Rego Park, Queens.

Sam M

John,

I agree. Seriously.

I pointed this story out because I found it interesting that density was named as one of the basic flaws of these projects. Daley's comment was particularly interesting. It was basically, "Oh, my dad was against the high-rises, he really was."

But the fact that they were high-rises wasn't the problem.

But there is a problem now: The general public very often views "dense" as "crowded."

That is, those policies left a real legacy. And a real bias against close living.

I remember ninth grade history class vividly: One of the great scourges of the Industrial Revolution was the tenements. Lesson: It's a good thing so many of us moved out of the cities.

That's the wrong lesson, I think. But it's the one millions of people have learned. And it's staying learned.

Yeah, you can point to a lot of luxury high-rises. But one simple Jacob Riis photo can erase a lot of enthusiasm.

Again, I am not saying this is right. Just that it is. And not just in unthinking suburbia. Mayor Daley,who I think is probably an urban advocate (I don't know) falls into damaging language quite easily.

It's a real hurdle to overcome.

John Morris

Sam,

Yes, Sam there are tons of sprawling slums. Has anyone seen South Central LA?

John Morris

Sam,

I kind of know that you are playing the "devils advocate" here. When you mention "high rise" to most people they think of housing projects. But really if one walks through NY now there are just a ton of really cute tall things that fit well with the street and the city. The new one on the Allegheny downtown is a nice design, just a basic nice building that sort of fits in. I mean it's not super pretty but it sure isn't ugly and it fits in well.

sean mcdaniel

hey anyone read the article about the st. clair village reunion picnic in last sunday's PG? all the "alumni" of this project fondly remembered growing up there. where parents watched out for all the kids...and the kids behaved as a result. they talked about people being proud of living...and how the place was a read godsend...until the late 1960s and early 70s. same was true of the projects in mckees rocks, which were basically rowhouses.

now, as for being cutoff and all that sort of thing...look at any high density townhouse development in the suburbs...really, what's different about them from any sort of urban rowhouse project? come be honest.

as for feeling cheated because "we" might have to pay $1500/month for a place that "they" might get for $400, well, maybe you ought to tell everyone who lives in allentown or manchesters or other "targeted" parts of the city that they really don't deserve those lost interest URA loans they're using to rehab houses left to rot over the years. hell, if you can't foot the bill by yourself, you don't deserve to replace the outdated electrical system or plumbing in that house...after a subsidy is a subsidy is a subsidy...whether it's for a millionaire developer building a downtown high-rise condo, a single-mother making $40,000 a year and trying to make sure the bathtub doesn't crash through the ceiling of her 110-year-old home ...or a black family struggling to raise their families in a safe place (in the city).

as i said, the general rule of thumb here is subsidies are wrong...so fuck em all...unless they get free bus passes on county transit system that they pay no taxes too.

yeah, i know that's going to piss you off, sam. but your bus pass is a subsidy. and all subsidies are bad. hey, if i'm riding next to you on the 71A (or whatever it's called today) and i know that you're getting a free ride and I'm plunking down my $1.75, shouldn't i be pissed too? Shouldn't i? shouldn't I?

i should, but I'm not. but i get upset by the double standard, yeah, i know it's only a $45 monthly bus pass. but a free ride is a free ride...especially at the taxpayers' expense.

sure, tell my how i ride on city roads. and enjoy city police and fire protection when i'm in the city limits. but jesus, when suburbanites clog mcknight road every weekened, i don't care. or when you fancy dans from bloomfield and regent square eat at Vivo in Bellevue (and i assume you drive there as opposed to taking an hour long bus ride each way), i don't care that my taxes pay for your police and fire protection and all that bullshit that you neo-urbanists bitch about.

it's call co-existence, a peaceful one, as far as that goes. i can live with it. but you fucking elistists don't seem to be able handle that...hey, by the way, if you want to look at it...evertything east of the eastern seaboard is sprawl...cause we've been chasing greener pastures ever since we got here.

sean mcdaniel

hey, i was getting pretty riled in that last post...my point about the URA loans is that they are low interest (0-2 percent) with no income ceilings for people who own property in places like allentown and other neighborhoods "targeted" for help however they can get it. as i said, if subsidies are bad (and that really does seem to be the general viewpoint of this blog) then they're all bad. no exceptions. even for pitt grad students who get free bus passes. sorry, can't bend the rules. hell, and let's kick granny's ass of the bus, too. those goddamn senior citizens don't deserve a free ride either. can't pay, walk. can't walk, then starve...or ask the kids in the suburbs to bring the suv into town to take you to the grocery store.

do you guys ever take note of the underlying heartlessness your "reasoned opinions"? seriously, if one of your parents or grandparents was sucking up that $1,500/month apartment for onloy $400/month (if that's all they could afford), would you still be pissed off? if your elderly mother or grandma was enjoying that free ride on PAT to the doctor, would that be okay? or do your beliefs only apply to others who don't quite fit into your plan of who's worthy?

so i guess that only non-city people who aren't wrong thinking are farmers, loggers, ranchers and others who can't ply their trades in cities. is the only legitimate reason for living outside the city job related — as in i don't want that damn paper plant stinking up my neighborhood while i'm enjoying my phad thai dinner on liberty avenue.

and just what counts as suburbs...JM's remark about the south central slum sprawl refers to neighborhoods that don't look all that much different (except for the geography and palm trees) than brighton heights, where the nearly overwhelming majority of homes are single houses on nice size lots...or is that just a suburb passing for the city...honestly, is there allowed to be any space between homes or lawns or cars in your plans?

talk about intolerance. hey, sam and john, next time you need a TV or CD player or new suit, give me a call. I'll meet you at ross park mall. i won't narc on you to the border patrol.

Sam M

First,

Sean, I am going to ignore your tired bus pass tirade. Because I said I would. And I do what I say. Try it some time.

As for being an absolutists on subsidies (all subsidies are bad subsidies) when did I ever say that? Offer me a link.

I might just as well say that since you support some subsidies, you support them all. Stadiums? Sure. Condos? Sure. A few hundred thousand for hookers for the Steelers front five? Why not?

Oops. You never said you would support that last one. But since we are allowing ourselves to savage the others' position, I might as well go ahead, right?

To say that my position amounts to kicking granny out of her home or off the bus is ridiculous. And sloppy. And really quite embarrasing. If you are so god awful angry about my position, why don't you go back to the original post about the situation in Silver Spring and see what I actually wrote.

Find it yourself.

As for John--if I am playing Devil's Advocate, it was by mistake. Or just a side pursuit. Really. What I am trying to point ot with this thread is something that I think supports your basic position in all of this. Which is, I think that the Daley's of the world do a disservice to city's when they blame the troubles of the past on density. I think that is an extremely convenient thing for them to do. And something that will steer such people away from density even when density might make sense.

At the same time, I think it is also important for people to realize that people have a bias against density. And it is one that was maybe justified when that bias began to take hold. And seeing that such a bias exists (as exaggerated as it has become due to certain political realities) we have to take it into account. It deeply ingrained in the culture. Or at least large swaths of it.

Yes, as it stands you can convince the mark Cubans of the world to take up city living. But to make a lasting impact on cities, we will have to appeal to a larger demographic than that.

Some, I think, are lost forever. Young families are never going to live downtown. At least I don't think so. In cities where they can afford it, the schools and other resources are too far gone. In places where those amenities are in good shape, the average family can't afford it.

So in my mind the biggest challenge--or at least the area in which a change can make the most impact--is to convince these people to live closer than they otherwise might--and to live in communities that make sense from an infrastructure standpoint. Allow a little bit of mixed use. I don't know, fill in Braddock and Swissvale rather than continuing to push past Cranberry. Or if they are moving out, fill in places like Jeannette.

I think I am with you on this one.

Sam M

And a word on convenience: You and I think one way of living is convenient. But others have different ideas. They might be wrong. And we might. But they are certainly different versions.

For instance, is it convenient to be in walking distance of a lot of restaurants? I am now that I live in Bloomfield. But I know a lot of people who would consider this a terribly inconvenient place. Because although it is only about two blocks for a pizza, I know a TON of people who would drive it.

Moreover, a lot of people HATE local color. Pizza comes to mind again because my wife got home from work a bit late last night. Nothing terrible, but there was only about an hour left at most local shops. So we called and called. And got no answer. Eventually we settled on Vocceli, which isn't quite the corner spot, but it ain't Domino's either.

But here's the thing: People like Domino's. I don't mean they love how it tastes. Although some might. What I mean is that they love the mindlessness of it. They know it will be open. They know they will take a credit card. They know they deliver. Etc.

Mindless.

Which to many people equals convenience.

Take Chinese restaurants. I like going to weird, off the wall ones. Or trying Vietnamese. Or Thai. And i think it's nice to be able to stroll past a few choices. Well, a lot of people I know won't eat any Asian cuisine other than PF Changs now that they've had the Big Box variety of Chinese. And to be honest, I think the place is pretty good, too.

Or take hardware stores. There is one on the main drag in Bloomfield. Let's say I need a fuse or something at 3 pm on a Sunday. Do I walk down the street to see if the local place is open or drive to Home Depot? Or even to the Lowes at the Waterfront?

Most people I know would drive. They would drive all the way to Monroeville, in fact. Anything other than walk somewhere and risk it being closed. Or not having something in stock.

That's not me. But I can, in fact, see what these people see in it all. As long as you don;t mind driving, life in the suburbs is pretty convenient.

I HATE driving. So it is not convenient for me. But I think I would have about as much luck changing the minds of my suburban friends as I would have changing yours.

So...all i am saying is that over the years, for whatever reason, people have developed a lot of biases against density. And, to put it in passive voice, those biases will have to be dealt with.

sean mcdaniel

Sam: To say that my position amounts to kicking granny out of her home or off the bus is ridiculous.

okay, i'll say it again. how many grad students at pitt, duquesne, cmu and other schools get a free ride on pat...versus the waitress at the falk clinic coffee shop or the janitor at the PPG building who catches a ride on a wilkinsburg or south side bus...for full price...? seriously, what it the difference?

the granny comment was a retort to your being pissed about the guy next to you in the urban condos for $400 while you pay $1,500 a month for the same space. ("I thought the "limit" meant that I needed to make at least a certain amount to live there. Turns out I actually made "too much." So for me, the rent would have been about $1,500. The guy next door in the same exact apartment would have been paying something like $400. That would have pissed me off".) other than the price...how is is different from a free bus ride for a grad student (not you of course, but some other earnest grad student)? and if the grad student gets the free ride, why shouldn't the chancellor get a free mansion? i think those are legitimate questions...that you'll duck, of course, because it cuts way too close to home. hell, get a bike, pitt's a 10 minute ride from bloomfield. i used to work on craig and rode from an apartment from nico's. most of the year. and when i couldn't ride...oh yeah, i took a bus...and paid full price.

hey, another issue...if you happen to teach at pitt long enough for the twins to attend...my tax dollars will make up the difference for the huge tuition break they get...and that's a lot more than the cost of a free bus ride.

and sam, all that's really okay with me. i'm not complaining about you and your ilk (you might prefer cohort) getting a break. just as i'm not complaining about other getting a free ride. i just think it's terribly sanctimonious for a person to complain about a person getting a break on rent when he gets a break on his bus ride...and his future colleagues get breaks on tuition for their kids. as i said, if you're fortunate to get hired full-time at pitt ( and i know that's not a given these days), are you going to "just say no" to those kinds of (subsidized) perks? it's not as though pitt's a fortune 500 company.

subsidies for stadiums, no. condos, no. hookers for the steelers offensive line, hmmm...free bus passes for grad students and cut-rate tuition for pitt profs making $100,000 a year while grad students teach their classes, hell yeah!

as for braddock and swissvale or jeannette...they aren't the city neighborhoods (which, I think, makes them suburbs, according to JM et al), either. those communities don't support the city with their taxes and to patronize businesses within the city the residents would have to drive their SUVs through regent square and other sacred city sactums ...and if young families do chose those places over cranberry, the targets and kohl's and barnes and nobles and dicks and gymborees and the rest of cranberry's evils will follow. and if you don't think so, then you ain't paying attention. hell, if i'm not mistaken...isn't that a suburban style mall off the swissvale exit of the parkway (okay, i might have the exit wrong, but it's the first one after the tunnel heading to monroeville.) isn't that already a sign of sprawl...and hey, you'll love this, but the kmart there is one of sophie masloff's favorite places to shop...you know sophie, she's a former pittsburgh mayor (and suburban scum wannabe, i guess).

sheel

I don't know about staff, but I do know that when i was a CMU student, I had to pay for my bus pass... $40/month... whether I used it or not.

sean mcdaniel

that's my point, sheel. why shouldn't all students at pitt, cmu, wherever get a free bus pass? not just grad students, who also get paid (and not all that well, i know. but that's their choice. so don't whine.)? where is it fair to stop the perks that are paid for by tax dollars?

sheel

btw - i meant $40/semester not month

and I don't really think bus passes are all that relevant to the conversations on this site-

I think subsidizing the busses is a good move because it encourages college students to go out and explore the city - which many of them would not otherwise do

sean mcdaniel

i think the bus pass issue is relevant, because it seems that only certain subsidies are bad (i.e., the ones that don't help out the people who post here). as far the free/discounted bus passes...someone pays for them somewhere, somehow. seriously, you don't get a free ride, ever.

Sam M

Well if it'a a full accounting you want, here goes.

I thought it would be obvious that university "students" are different from "employees." I guess not. So allow me to explain.

Students pay to go to school. It's a fee known as "tuition."

And teachers, who are emplyees, get a piece of paper once a month. It is known as a "paycheck."

But the paycheck does not give a full accounting, does it? There are also the benefits. And in my case, one of those benefits happens to be a bus pass. That is, I work for my check. I work for my benefits. I work for access to the library. And I work for the bus pass.

Want to know the truth? I would rather have the money. So Sean, if you want to draft a letter asking the university to pay us the face value of the bus pass rather than the bus pass, I 'll sign on.

Splitting hairs? OK. Then perhaps you should get out a bit more. Talk to a few more grad students. And ask them about the "security and transportation" fee we all have to pay every semester. This semester it has gone up to $90. (That might be annual, but I can't remember. But let's assume it's annual. For your sake.)

See, this $90 fee is widely seen as forced payment. For the bus pass. But a bus pass for a whole year goes for a lot more than $90, right? Sure it does. So it's still a subsidy!

Only I don't need one for a whole year. Over the course of one semester, I ride the bus a grand total of 28 round trips.

And I pay $90.

Now let's look at grad students as a group. I know quite a few. And of those I know, there are probably at least 40 who never ride the bus. Ever.

But they still pay the fee. So let's throw their "subsidy" in with mine. Why not? I'll take all the blame! So carry the one... for my 28 trips, these 40 grad students plus me are paying $3,640. Getting the picture?

Why does the university offer us this "subsidy"? Perhaps it's because it allows them to say that they are "paying" teachers this thing that's worth hundreds of dollars. But how much does PAT actually charge them for each one? I don't know. But you seem quite interested. So again, do some research.

But I'll offer you my theory: I bet PAT gives them away for less than face value. Why? Because it is in PAT's interest to say that ridership is high. And one primary way to measure ridership is with the number of yearly passes in circulation.

So who gets the bigger subsidy? Me with my bus pass, for which I pay. And work.

Or you and your bike path?

John Morris

well here's the peace and love that statism brings. Throw all the money in one big pot and let's have fight to the death over it. I continue to bring this up -- isn't a taxpayer funded road a subsidy. I don't drive, so it sure looks like one to me.

Anyway isn't that the plan to blur the difference between what is earned and what isn't so much that people can't tell what is what.

John Morris

well here's the peace and love that statism brings. Throw all the money in one big pot and let's have fight to the death over it. I continue to bring this up -- isn't a taxpayer funded road a subsidy. I don't drive, so it sure looks like one to me.

Anyway isn't that the plan to blur the difference between what is earned and what isn't so much that people can't tell what is what.

sean mcdaniel

actually, i ride mostly on the roads that my taxes pay for. and i bet even those city streets are paved with some of my state tax money...and the money i spend freely and often in the city. and since state money goes into those bike paths...i'm not feeling the least bit guilty, especially since i'm not driving a car to get where i'm going (yes, sam, i ride the bike for fun...but it comes in handy for other purposes, too.) as i've said to j. morris, what i spend within the pittsburgh city limits each year probably outpaces your city taxes and what you spend at city businesses. do you get the picture?

does it bother me that you get a discounted rate to ride a county-supported bus system — especially since you're a freeloading renter who pays no county taxes and still has the nerve to ride buses and maybe enjoy county parks and other amenities at my expense? not really. but you get the picture.

as for that security and transportation fee...come on, sam, every student pays an activities fee...even if they never use them. and only god knows (and the pitt accounting office) what fees students pay for services they never use...or even know about. as you say, it's a forced payment. since we're all in the same boat, i know you get the picture.

and technically, you're still a "student," right? so i guess some students are created more equal than others. and yes i get the picture.

parse words or split hairs...the bus passes are cut-rate tickets passed out by a partially state subsidized university and were issued by a county, state and federally subsidized transportation system. and oh what a picture that is.

sam, i've said it repeatedly, i don't care that you get the bus pass, i just think there's a double standard at work here. if you get the picture.

you know, the chairman of USAirways can certainly justify that the $9 million in stock options he received was part of his pay for the job he did...no matter what the pilots' union thinks — especially since the airline posted a huge profit recently. somehow, the pilots don't get the picture.

yes, i know that $9 million is far different than a $40 bus pass. but we can all "justify" our perks as being part of the "benefit" package we receive. yes, i do get the picture...do you?

and if you do think that bus passes, free parking, a free mansion and other perks are what certain university employees "deserve" because they earn them, take a look in today's PG to see what administrators at CCAC thought they earned...at the taxpayers' expense. today, a lot of taxpayers are getting the picture.

and finally let's do that math...let's suppose that your $90 fee covers transportation and security 50/50...that means $45 for the bus ride. at $1.75 per one-way ride...your 28 round trips would cost $98 ($1.75 x 2 = $3.50 x 28 = $98) ...so you're still riding for less than 50 percent of the fare that most riders pay...do you get the picture?

and that's still a good deal...i think it was j. potts who once said that state subsidies pay for 2/3 of the actual cost of a bus ride...so that means you're paying about 1/6 of the actual (unsubsidized cost) of a bus ride. yeah, my math could be way off. but you get the picture.

and back to the point of which subsidies are good or bad...what about the transportation system? if it can't make it on its own, why not scrap it? especially since the majority of passengers are suburbanites who only ride into the city, use city services at absolutely no cost to them, and then hop on the bus to their sprawling mcmansions in cranberry? i know you get that picture.

a few last questions, if you weren't getting "paid" to be a student, with whatver perks that "pay" includes," would you/could you afford to be going after your master's now? let me ask this way, if paying for that post-bachelor's degree, would you do it? should the state even fund one penny of a graduate degree...you know, it kind of irks me that i have to pay full price for my kid's college education, only to have a grad student TA teach him, and the grad "student" gets paid to be find out if he/she makes the grade as an instructor. it's kind of like having a med student take out your gallbladder. he might be able to do the job, but you'd really want a real professional to do the work --if you get the picture.

so, if you can't afford to pay for your education (and that means anyone) should you get a stipend, scholarship, grant or low-interest loan to attend a state-subsidized (even if it's only 20 percent) school? serioulsy, sam, this relates to the silver springs question...why should any student pay less than full tuition, ever, let alone get paid? and remember, this relates to any school that receives even a dime of government money. but this is probably the picture you probably don't want me to get.

Sam M

Sean,

You have no idea how much I spend at city businesses. Do you?

Second of all, in what sense am I a "freeloader"? I guess I am. If by that you mean I am "given" a bus pass. Which I don't want. And for which I pay $90.

And again, perhaps more research is in order. I do in fact pay an activities fee... In addition to the transportation and security fee.

And if you really want to help out with paying for roads, you'll get off the bike and start paying your gas tax. Pennsylvania's is one of the highest in the country.

But alas, none of this addresses the essential shabbiness of your argument. Because as we can all see here, there is only one person pure enough to comment on taxes and subsidies. And that person is Sean.

Because just imagine what would happen if I woke up one day and decided to address the errors of my ways. How? Maybe I would drive to work. Then of course you would slam me for using roads, which are subsidized.

So I decide to walk. And you slam me for using sidewalks. Which are subsidized.

So I build a helipad and fly to work--through skies policed by government-paid air traffic controllers and regulated by the FAA.

Or I work from home--in which case I would be utilizing phone lines installed and regulated by municipal authorities.

Or if I establish my own country on an island in the South pacific, I am sure you would say... Oh, but he went to a public high school! What a welfare queen!

So basically, the way it works is, the government constructs a society in which it has its fingers in every pot. And anyone who has anything to do with the kitchen had better shut up.

I suppose it's a fun argument for people who think "gotcha" amounts to a high-minded rhetorical flourish. Reminds me of the geniuses who sit around waiting for Bill Kristol to appear on television so they can holler "chickenhawk" and snicker off into the sunset with their friends. A fantastic playground riposte, to be sure. But not exactly airtight, either.

Unless, of course, you are willing to offer me a way of life which would allow me to make the arguments I am making...

Oh, wait. I have asked you to do that something on the order of 10 times. And you have not come through.

Why is that?

The fact of the matter is, you think the city should subsidize downtown development. And anyone who disagrees gets opened up to, "Well, HE accepts subsidies when he..."

Congratulations. Really. As far as that goes. Any other rabbits in the hat?

And as for my education, I am paying for it. By teaching. Do you really not know how this works? Most of the students in the program are "unfunded." That means they pay full tuition plus all the fees. They also have all their nights and weekends free for doing whatever they want to do. Most of them work, of course. To pay for school.

I work, too. Only I work for the school. Part of my pay is a stipend. The rest is in the form of tuition remittance. Guess what they do if I stop teaching? They stop sending the checks. And bill me for tuition.

So some people tend bar to pay for grad school. Some people tap mom and dad for the money. And some people teach. This all seems pretty basic. So I don't understand the confusion.

So just to rehash: The people who are unfit to make anti-subsidy arguments include: anyone who rides a bus--even when they pay for the pass. Anyone who uses a road. Anyone who lives in the city.

As a matter of fact, as far as I can tell there is not a single person who can make such arguments. And if there is such a person, you refuse to say who it is. Interesting.

Sam M

And by the way, if you think that full professors make the best teachers because they have better credentials--and that your student/gallbladder analogy has any relation to the reality of modern university education--I suggest that you allow your kids to make their own decisions regarding college. because you get out even less than I thought.

The comments to this entry are closed.