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Pompous PennPIRG prigs

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By Dimitri Vassilaros
Friday, Sept. 5, 2008

Big Nanny is alive and well in Pennsylvania. The wise ones at the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group, a very liberal-leaning, green, do-gooder group based in Philadelphia, know how your money should be spent and your life lived.

It's all in PennPIRG's just-released study, "Getting on Track: Good Investments for Pennsylvania's Public Transit System." Don't let the title fool you: The central planning involves so much more than so-called mass-transit solutions such as more rail and bus alternatives.

The first sentence of the executive summary is disingenuous. It reads, "Pennsylvania has long spent vastly more public resources on highways than on transit to meet our transportation needs."

Highways are transit. That's how the vast majority of commuters transport themselves in their own real mass-transit vehicles, you know, cars, SUVs, trucks, Harleys and Vespas. All without being dependent on anyone other than themselves. They come and go as they please without rearranging their lives around bus schedules and union work stoppages.

And "public resources" are the money that you and I earn, which the government takes. Would that some of those "public resources" be used to fill a pothole or three -- or pay for the proper inspection of bridges around here before another one collapses.

Here's a shocker: The green prigs believe that boosting transit funding for this region is a good thing because it supposedly will give commuters, sick of high fuel costs and traffic congestion, more alternatives to driving.

Apparently, the near-empty buses (operated by grossly overpaid drivers) that usually clog our streets have not been enticing enough to frustrated commuters.

Well, surely, when the North Shore Connecter reduces walking time from Downtown to the North Shore by, oh, say a minute or two, customers will be fighting one another to get on the T for a quick ride under the Allegheny River.

What fun!

Of course, the increased funding will have to come from somewhere. The guess here is that the 10 percent Onorato drink tax on poured alcoholic beverages in Allegheny County -- supposedly to provide a near blank-check income stream for the perpetually bloated and terminally mismanaged Port Authority of Allegheny County -- always will be with us.

A toast to Dan, Dan, the Tax Man for his visionary solution to ensure that the members of Local 85 of the Amalgamated Transit Union don't work against him when he runs for governor.

The PennPIRG study makes it clear that the potential of so-called transit investments cannot be realized unless Big Nanny takes full control of your life. The investments must be "paired with smart land-use planning that encourages compact, mixed-use neighborhoods oriented toward the use of transit."

Hello draconian zoning reforms, goodbye big backyards.

Would someone please explain the morality of forcing anyone to subsidize the transit of others• This driver pays for the upkeep of the roads through obscenely high state and federal taxes on each gallon of gasoline and pays tolls for the privilege of using the turnpike.

The central planners always seem to know what's best for the individual, and yet, amazingly, that never includes just allowing him to live his life.

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