• 'That's right. The taxpayers have spoken.'

    The above quoted is from Field Negro, by an otherwise anonymous commenter under the name of "rfd". This was in response to the following comment:
    The main problem is how recent housing and retail developments have been built with only cars and highways in mind. That makes it much harder to implement mass transit whenever it's needed.

    That, and the fact that many states and municipalities don't like funding mass transit, and people don't like seeing their taxes raised to support it. And there are no private companies waiting in the wings to come out and create their own ideal private mass transit systems.
    I didn't mean to make a post about mass transit or voting patterns yet, but it is interesting how this guy thinks he speaks for other taxpayers.

    Speaking of taxpayers, it's interesting to notice people who actually get out and vote, and those who don't. According to the U.S. Census bureau, only 58% of Americans turn out to vote, on average. And those percentages vary in local, state and federal elections. Other nations have a 90% or more voter turn out. Then again, those places usually have compulsory voting and assign huge penalties for not casting a ballot. But getting down to brass tacks, one has to take a look at exactly who's casting ballots and why in order to understand how this nation ends up with some of the policies it has. (More after the break)

     On November 4, 2008, I put in my ballot for the U.S. presidential elections at my alma mater. And considering the historic significance of this particular election, a huge number of young black people turned up to cast their vote. Young people of other races did the same thing, which is why conservatives now have to deal with a nigg...ahem, I meant "Marxist", "Socialist", "Kenyan", "foreigner" occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Street for the time being. The lack of turnout among young people is why Barack Obama has to deal with an obstinate bunch of delusional bastards occupying most of the House and some of the Senate.

    In other elections, you don't see too many young people voting. Nor do you see many people under the age of 55, not unless they make time to vote. And that seems to be one of the biggest problems faced by the electoral system as it currently stands.

    Most local, state and even federal elections fall on a weekday and last until late in the evening. The vast majority of people who can vote are stuck at their 9-to-5 jobs, and the only way they can make time for voting is when they get off work. Between fighting traffic, running errands, getting their voter registration shit together and standing in line, it's little wonder they don't have the time or energy to exercise one of their most basic rights.

    If you're out of state or out of the country, you may be able to get your hands on a provisional ballot, but whether those will actually be counted is up to the folks handling the ballots. In some places, provisional ballots aren't counted until all the other ballots turned in by people at the polls are counted. And some places won't even accept provisional ballots for certain elections.

    Young people can be arsed to vote when they are encouraged to and, I dare say, emotionally rallied. A lot of young folk genuinely believed that after suffering 8 years of George Bush, they were making a change. In 2010, so many of these young people were disillusioned by that "change" seeming like more of the same that they didn't bother showing up at the polls. And then there were those who only show up at presidential elections, not bothering to keep up with elections on "off-years". But someone did.

    Those "someones" are the elderly. These folks are possibly the most conservative and set-in-their-ways types of voters around. But with the vast majority being retired, they have more than enough time to engage in civic functions. And they vote, early and often. Given the naturally conservative bent of the elderly, it's little wonder why they would vote down tax increases or not fund progressive causes. You can see this in action on a grander scale in most parts of Florida, where the elderly defend their interests in low taxes, regardless of how it effects other government functions. It can be said that they're just as reliable as the stereotypical "black" Democrat vote, just as long as you don't piss them off by taking away the things they hold near and dear to them.

    So how does this mesh with mass transit? Well, there's this tendency for these largely suburban residents to associate mass transit with blacks, poors and other worthless indigents. These suburban enclaves are built solely for personal vehicular transport, with bus lines and stops non-existent. If you're too poor to own a car, then chances are you're too poor to live there in the first place. These places don't want to pay for things that not only have a small chance of benefiting them, but especially if the benefit goes towards making sure the blacks and poors don't have to walk dozens of blocks or buy a makeshift $500 beater (with all the fuel, maintenance and insurance costs that go with it). For southern cities, ever since Rosa Parks got all uppity and the private transit companies went out of business, they haven't been all that inclined to fund public mass transit.

    Meanwhile, you have mass transit in the "inner city", where downtown is located. In most cases, it's a few bus lines that run for most of the day and shut down late at night. In cities like New York, public transportation is the city's lifeblood -- talking about killing that is akin to talking about getting rid of the bald eagle as America's national symbol.  Not gonna happen. Most of the big cities in the southeast have some form of public transport, if it's just a bunch of buses running fixed routes close to the downtown area. And in many of these places, the state government refuses to fund public transport, reserving the revenue gained from fuel taxes for highways and road infrastructure. Cities like Atlanta have a special 1-cent or 2-cent tax set aside for operating their transit systems. Some places don't want to pay this special tax, or any other tax that is seen going towards blacks and poors riding mass transit. This explains why many a metro area in the southeast doesn't have a genuinely metropolitan public transportation system.

    Most elderly don't actively take the bus, unless it's a special paratransit unit that makes door-to-door stops at nursing homes, hospitals and other such areas. Most suburbanites won't know a mass transit schedule if it hit them in the face. Most conservatives don't like tax increases of any kind (unless they can directly benefit from them), and most southern states don't bother with funding mass transit. Everyone else is too busy to notice when these forces go to the polls and strike down a tax increase that could go towards creating or improving mass transit. And conservatives like "rfd" crow "the taxpayers have spoken", when only 2/5ths of them have, at best.