15 Oct

1967 Seattle-area transit plan

1967 Seattle Transit Plan map image posted by afiler.

In 1968, Seattle had a chance to vote in a rapid transit system, as seen in the map here. The Forward Thrust package of propositions contained a variety of civic improvement initiatives, many of which passed (one brought us the late and not-so-lamented Kingdome), but the transit system got only 50.8% Yes votes–and required a supermajority of 60% to pass.

In 1970, it was put back in front of the voters, but failed amid “Boeing Bust”-era recession fears. The large amount of federal money ($881 million dollars) secured for the project went instead to Atlanta, where they used it to build the MARTA system.

In retrospect, of course, this was probably one of the stupidest voter decisions ever made in this region. Can you imagine how different Seattle would be today if the routes shown on the map pictured here existed? By now we could have been spending the money to expand it to Everett and Tacoma, and adding more in-city routes; instead, we are creating a minimal line, and the expansions being planned are nowhere near as useful as they ought to be. (No stops between Roosevelt and Northgate? Only one stop between downtown and the U-District? And the University station way down at Husky Stadium instead of near the Ave? We need to build this anyway, but it’s going to be decades before it’s a really good in-city system, at this rate. It’s frustrating.)

Now we have the chance to vote again to build and expand rapid transit here, and as in 1970, people fear a deepening recession. Will people vote yes, or will it fail and kill transit expansion for another 40 years? I may not live long enough to see a decent rail system here.

(Found via comments on Seattle Transit Blog.)

04 Dec

A shameful record

Found via the we move to canada blog:

On Dec. 2, we break the record for the longest period without a raise since the minimum wage was established in 1938. The prior record of nine years and three months lasted from Jan. 1, 1981 until the minimum wage increase on Apr. 1, 1990.

(That was during my minimum wage working years. I remember quite clearly. $3.35 an hour and we were supposed to be thrilled when we got a 10 cent increase after 6 months.)

The article points out that the current federal minimum wage of $5.15 is less than the 1950 minimum wage, once you convert it to 2006 dollars. (Washington state, at least, has a much higher minimum wage. And yet, the sky hasn’t fallen. Hmm.) And that it takes almost two current minimum wage workers to match the earning power of one in 1968.

And note this — “The share of national income going to wages and salaries is at the lowest level since 1929 while the share going to after-tax corporate profits is at the highest.”

It is shameful. I can’t imagine trying to live on $5.15 an hour. It was hard enough on $3.35 in 1986, but $3.35 could get you a lot more in Seattle in those days than $5.15 can now.

13 Nov

The truth about the Canadian health care system

I missed this article when it was posted on Orcinus a month and a half ago, but it is well worth reading. A “health-care-card-carrying Canadian resident and uninsured American citizen who regularly sees doctors on both sides of the border” addresses the myths and truths about Canadian-style health care. Now that we have some Democrats in office I’d love to see a push toward a single-payer system, but I don’t have much faith it can happen. But it should.

21 Apr

The Worst President in History?

In great detail, Rolling Stone discusses whether, in fact, George W. Bush is the worst president in history.
Of course, lots of us agree or disagree with that statement, for a variety of reasons. This article goes into a detailed analysis of Bush’s actions, and the result is… holy crap. When you see it all written out in one place like that, it’s kind of overwhelming. An excerpt:

“Armed with legal findings by his attorney general (and personal lawyer) Alberto Gonzales, the Bush White House has declared that the president’s powers as commander in chief in wartime are limitless. No previous wartime president has come close to making so grandiose a claim. More specifically, this administration has asserted that the president is perfectly free to violate federal laws on such matters as domestic surveillance and the torture of detainees. When Congress has passed legislation to limit those assertions, Bush has resorted to issuing constitutionally dubious ‘signing statements,’ which declare, by fiat, how he will interpret and execute the law in question, even when that interpretation flagrantly violates the will of Congress. Earlier presidents, including Jackson, raised hackles by offering their own view of the Constitution in order to justify vetoing congressional acts. Bush doesn’t bother with that: He signs the legislation (eliminating any risk that Congress will overturn a veto), and then governs how he pleases — using the signing statements as if they were line-item vetoes. In those instances when Bush’s violations of federal law have come to light, as over domestic surveillance, the White House has devised a novel solution: Stonewall any investigation into the violations and bid a compliant Congress simply to rewrite the laws.”

22 Dec

Taking Christmas away from us

A few days ago in the Stranger Slog, Dan Savage posted an interesting comment on the whole “War on Christmas” thing. The right wing Christmas warriors, he suggests, are making non-right-wing fundamentalists feel awkward about celebrating Christmas, as they’ve already made people feel awkward about celebrating July 4:

“Patriotism is their property—if you’re not a my-country-right-or-wrong, country-music-listening redneck, you’re made to feel like a hypocrite for celebrating the July 4th holiday. So most of us opt out, ignoring July 4th. We’ve ceded patriotism to the right. And now, thanks to the War on Christmas, those of us who aren’t fundies are going to feel awkward about celebrating Christmas.”

Certainly, this “War” has added a subtext to the simple greeting “Merry Christmas” that wasn’t there before. It used to be that I could happily say “Merry Christmas” to someone; now, if I do so, I wonder if they are thinking that I am a fundamentalist.

I don’t feel much Christmas spirit toward you “Christmas warriors,” that is for sure. And I do celebrate Christmas, with great vigor, thank you very much.

09 Nov

What we could have had

pro-monorail poster

Instead, we get this.

Nice work, idiots. So what are you going to use to get from West Seattle to anywhere on the west side of the city when the viaduct goes down for repair?

As I mentioned on another site earlier — the monorail board was so inept and stupid at every turn that one almost wonders if the murder of the monorail project was an inside job.

I would really, really like to live somewhere where they actually build transit projects instead of putting them up for multiple elections until they can kill them. (Five, this time. The monorail won four times. But the fifth one — which never should have happened — killed it.)

And you ex-monorail supporters? Shame on you. Maybe you thought the current plan was screwed up, and maybe it was. But by voting no, you’ve probably ensured that there will be no alternative for a very long time.

The original Seattle Center monorail opened 3 years before I was born. I was kind of hoping to see it expanded sometime before I’m too old to enjoy using it.

02 Mar

What?s Wrong with the Bankruptcy Reform Bill?

So you’ve heard about a bankruptcy reform bill being discussed these days. Think it’s a good idea? Read this. I’ve never been bankrupt, and hope never to be, but I live in fear of a medical emergency or lengthy period of unemployment turning our lives upside down. Maybe if I were Bill Gates I could think that this “reform” bill would never affect me, but I think most Americans are one serious illness away from bankruptcy — even with savings and insurance, considering how high medical costs can be, and how frequently insurers don’t cover 100%.

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