Open letter to SP Times Ernest Hooper

Ernest –

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.

Dirty water from Tampa FloridaThrough 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?)

Realty CheckAlso, you need to revisit a rail-myth that “For every $1 invested in light rail, cities have realized an economic development return of at least $4.”

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.

Investment black holeWhen you add the costs of
1. Construction,
2. Operating expenses,
3. Maintenance and
4. Capital depreciation (things wear out and need to be replaced)

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?

black hole moneyIf light-rail REALLY returns $4 for every $1, wouldn’t it behoove the city/county/federal governments to “invest” ALL of the taxpayers’ money expecting the coffers to grow by 300% ?

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% ?

Final question:

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?

Respectfully,

–          Fred Jacobsen

2 Responses to “Open letter to SP Times Ernest Hooper”

  1. […] Open letter to SP Times Ernest Hooper (verbumsapienti.wordpress.com) […]

  2. Marilyn Smith Says:

    Could not agree more with you Fred. It would appear these folks are once again speaking from a propaganda script, ” the choo that could”.

    None of their extollings has basis in fact and any person with any math background can easily explode their TOOTH FAIRY MUTTERINGS AND MYTHS.

    Why should anyone trust these numbers, adjectives, adverbs, or hyperbole?

    Most of those involved and still pushing were the very same people who said the same wonderful idioms ABOUT THE TECO TROLLEY.

    Now let us examine the numbers: THE FARE BOX ON THE YELLOW TROLLEY HAS NEVER PAID FOR THE OPERATION OF THE LITTLE YELLOW TROLLEY.

    I believe at this time the current rate to ride the YELLOW TROLLEY is $6.00
    per person per ride. Well, even a 4 yrs old rate should have already been able to pay to the operation if the return is $1.00 invested returns $4.00…to this I say SAME OLD HOG WASH. HE HA and this is DICK GRECO’S TOY..hey we need more toys, right?

    These are the same people who lied in a purposeful manner with thousands of dollars to SELL US THE LIGHT RAIL.

    HOW GULLIBLE DO THESE SELF FULFILLING PLAYERS THINK WE ARE?

    JUST USE ALL THE BUSES, KEEP THEM ON TIME, KEEP THEM SAFE, AND MAKE THE ROUTES PENETRATE THE NEIGHBORHOODS WHERE THE PEOPLE CAN JUMP ON MORE EASILY…I THINK THEY LIKE TO USE THE TERM ACCESSIBLE.

    NOW, that is a simple answer to move people around the entire county without spending money that will ultimately just be another debt the COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR WILL NOT TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT.
    HAS NOT AND NEVER WILL

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