By Bob Harris
It seems that often our government and its agencies do the stupidest things, which eventually hurt the economy and the people they are supposed serve.
New York City builds tennis courts and athletic facilities so people have places to play and exercise and then raised permit rates recently for fields and courts. It seems a classic blunder to bring in more revenue. The result has been that people are exercising less, and they are annoyed. Thus, instead of encouraging people to be healthy, residents are not using the facilities unless they are sneaking in.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it wants to hike fares again about 8 percent, but I read that the MTA now has more than $1.9 billion in surplus. It has taken in more revenue due to an improved economy and lower costs in energy, debt service and health insurance for employees and retirees. Fare costs have risen by 29 percent since 2007, which is twice the cost of inflation, so why is the MTA still planning to raise rates?
In the outerboroughs, the cost of parking at a meter is 25 cents for 15 minutes. It is higher in Manhattan, but that is Manhattan. The cost used to be a quarter for 20 minutes. A proposal to increase rates was made and people complained, as did the City Council members, so it was shelved about year ago. After a few months, the city raised the parking charge to what it is today and there were few or no complaints.
Well, the quarter for 15 minutes is annoying and expensive. People don’t want to pay 50 cents to run into a store, so often they just put in a quarter and then the ubiquitous meter people give them a ticket.
The cost of the meter and the threat of a ticket are probably hurting neighborhood businesses because people instead go to a large store with a free parking lot and shop there. Is the few dollars the city makes from meters and the tickets worth hurting local economies?
A recent newspaper story told of overflowing city garbage cans in Astoria. I also see them on Union Turnpike. The city saves money by reducing the number of sanitation workers and then cuts down on street garbage can pickups. This saves the city money but makes our neighborhoods disgusting.
Regretfully, shopkeepers on business strips have to form business improvements districts so trash is swept up, the overflowing city garbage cans are kept clean and customers will patronize neighborhood stores. The city is saving a few dollars, but at what expense to the small mom-and-pop stores in a community that are trying to survive?
A money-maker for the city but not the local stores is the flood of tickets given out to shopkeepers by the city Sanitation and Consumer Affairs departments. Some tickets can cost neighborhood shops hundreds, even thousands of dollars. The city is so rotten that inspectors ticket violations separately. Why can’t Consumer Affairs give a warning first?
Yes, a sidewalk should be kept clean, but a couple of papers on a clean-swept sidewalk are not always negligence by a shop keeper but the often the result of wind or a thoughtless pedestrian. The city is making too much money from our small business owners who are the backbone of our economy and our neighbors.
Then there is the corporate welfare by the state and federal governments. People complain that individuals or families get too much welfare, but the federal government gives farmers huge amounts of money to not grow crops or as subsidies for crops grown. Help farmers if there is a catastrophe, but do not give billions of dollars as corporate welfare. Our nation and economy cannot survive with this practice.
Then there are the New York state tax breaks to the horse racing industry and the film companies which make movies in New York. The government should only help those who need help, and not tax me to give free money to favored industries.