Open letter to SP Times Ernest Hooper
Re: Your South Shore & Brandon Times article
“Tampa’s well-being has a hand in our own“
I have always respected your opinions and usually agree with them. But not today.
If you need an example of The City of Tampa not caring about the residents of unincorporated Hillsborough county, just ask the folks who live in Palm River.
Through some weird city/county contract, people living in Palm River pay the city to provide drinking water. The water that comes out of their taps is so bad that any of them could get arrested for animal cruelty if they gave it to their pets.
The County is prevented from hooking them up to better water, while the City refuses to spend the money to hook them up. Some of these people live mere yards from new pipelines.
Commissioner Miller has a jar of this water (tightly sealed) sitting on his desk if you want a photo opportunity. Every City Council member and the Mayor should also have a jar on their desks, and be made to drink it.
Downtown Tampa business people are first concerned with downtown Tampa business. Enough is never enough for most of them. (Do I sound like a Socialist?)
First, an “investment” by definition, returns something to the investor. A for-profit company would expect all of their investment back plus a reasonable profit.
Non-profit organizations however do well if they break even on their investments. What they do get back has to be more valuable than what they could have gotten back from “investing” the money in a different way.
If there is no return, it is an expense, not an investment.
For the city/county/federal governments to put taxpayer money into any project, that money is then not otherwise available to fund other projects.
The question always has to be “What is the highest and best use of limited available money?” Is it an investment, or an expense?
Taxpayers do not get $4 back. Since the days of John Pierpont (J.P.) Morgan, no passenger rail system outside of DisneyWorld has ever returned a profit to investors without taxpayer subsidies.
The total is vastly more than passenger revenues can cover.
This would be a very poor investment indeed, especially since ADDITIONAL taxpayer subsidies beyond that first $1 must be paid year after year for the cost beyond the initial construction costs.
For a city/county, “free money” from federal taxpayers (us) makes the costs seem more reasonable, but it is still not a investment with reasonable returns.
But you say, what about the $4 of new construction that will show up near the train stations?
ALL of that new construction comes from private, for-profit companies who expect a return of that $4 plus a reasonable profit.
Profit from rents; profit from the labor of others; profit from the sale of goods and services, profit from selling those buildings.
The only return on that $1 expended by taxpayers would be from new taxes that would be paid as a direct result of the $4 private enterprise investment.
People with new jobs, if they buy homes will pay taxes back to the city/county and income taxes to the federal government. If they all use light-rail, no new gasoline taxes will be paid.
Business will be on the hook for only those property taxes that aren’t “exempted” by some city/county incentive program. Business would be on the hook to the federal government (not much for the state) for income taxes on net profits.
So, let’s do the math:
$1 comes from taxpayers.
How much of that comes back to the taxpayers (after operating expenses, maintenance & capital depreciation), and from what source, as a direct result of that “investment”? Or, is it an expense that cannot be used to fund health, education, general welfare, or real jobs programs?
$4 comes from private industry.
How much do very savvy business investment capitalists and lawyers expect to get back? How about ALL of it and with a profit, while paying as little in taxes as possible?
If light-rail REALLY returns $4 for every $1, wouldn’t it behoove private investors to beg, borrow or steal every dollar they could get to invest in something that returns 300% ?
If light-rail is such a good “investment”, why do taxpayers ALWAYS have to pay for it and continue to subsidize it forever, while others rake in profits?
– Fred Jacobsen
- How buses and ferries and light rail have made it cool to live in New Jersey [VIDEO] (grist.org)
- Ford proposes private-sector subway funding (cbc.ca)
- Florida Gov. Rick Scott rejects funding for high-speed rail (consumertraveler.com)
- Flight info for light-rail riders (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Florida Congresscritters Look to End-Run Rick Scott on High Speed Rail (news.firedoglake.com)