Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Next Wave

For months I've been hearing about this so-called "recovery" we're in and all the while I've believed this is a premature celebration. Of course, most of the celebrating has been on Wall Street, and a few upticks in department store sales. But nothing has really screamed recovery yet.

In fact, the devastation at the state level is beginning to trickle gush down to basic essential services -- our backbone. Atlanta's MARTA is feeling it.
On Monday night, workers and officials at the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority volunteered to paint the X’s on a third of the system’s buses and trains to symbolize the 30 percent cut in service the agency is facing because of a decline in sales tax revenue and a Republican-dominated Statehouse that has been slow to help.


“We are just crawling out of a recession,” said Sam Massell, a former mayor of Atlanta, “but we will be knocked back into another one if the salespersons are not behind the store counters, if the restaurant workers are not in the kitchens, if the office staff are not behind their desks.”

About 46 percent of the more than 100,000 people who use Marta to get to work each day say they do not have access to other forms of transportation.

More than 80 percent of the nation’s transit systems are considering or have recently enacted fare increases or service cuts, including those in Kansas City, Mo., Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., according to a survey released this month by the American Public Transportation Association.

Teachers are also about to become acutely aware that the recession is far from over.
From coast to coast, public schools face the threat of tens of thousands of layoffs this year in a fiscal crunch likely to result in larger class sizes and fewer programs to help students in need.

Reports of deep staffing and service cuts are emerging in several states, including California, Illinois and New Jersey, as school officials say that finances have been stretched to the breaking point.


Education Secretary Arne Duncan estimated that education layoffs could total from 100,000 to 300,000 unless Congress acts.

"It is brutal out there, really scary," Duncan told reporters on Capitol Hill. "This is a real emergency. What we're trying to avert is an education catastrophe."

The irony here is that we are making cutbacks in areas that cannot be outsourced to India or China.

While Wall Street banks may be celebrating, millions of people at the other end of the spectrum are bracing for yet another clusterfuck.

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