Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Where's Guido?

It's been two evenings after his alcohol-assisted Friday night display of testosterone, and he has yet to show his face again. Let's not be surprised. He's a coward, I called him on it, and as I said, such poseurs tend to rotate cars once other regulars will remember them for something embarrassing.

One of the passengers, a nice middle-aged lady I often see, wasn't on our usual train last night. When I saw her tonight, I said that "I wanted to apologize on behalf of that guy the other night, knowing he'd never apologize himself," for his uncalled-for language. She said, "Oh, that one who kept screaming," adding that she tends to just tune such people out. She didn't have to thank me, but it was nonetheless appreciated.

In Googling to see if anyone has mentioned the jerk before, I came across this, a story all too familiar with regular commuters. I've probably seen this "grown-up Erkel" before! I've also seen many who have carelessly spilled their drinks, usually morning coffee, and good lord, does that create a mess. The twits have never once appeared to care: they'll grab their things and quickly run to another car.

Cell phones have been a noted annoyance on Metro-North for nearly a decade, and though I've heard the Hudson Line has "quiet cars" forbidding cell phone usage, my particular line hasn't seen fit to follow suit. I noted that the problem is gun control creating an impolite society, but I should also point out that it also stems from the very nature of public transportation. Private property rights allow (or should) the owner and operators to define whatever standards of behavior they see fit. But when something is considered "public," then people demand their "rights."

Unfortunately, tax subsidies from Albany (and probably now D.C. via the "stimulus" garbage) make Metro-North fares artifically cheap, while at the same time government policies make private alternatives more expensive, if not impossible. A competing, fully private railroad is impossible. Not because the capital can't be raised (it would cost billions but that's perfectly within the ability of private entrepreneurs), but because New York City, Westchester and other involved counties would never allow the zoning. Driving would actually get me home faster than the train, because I have to walk a mile back to Grand Central and wait for my train to depart. However, commuting to a city job by auto is quite expensive once you factor in tolls and costly parking fees, and parking spots are artificially scarce because of city zoning.

So while government doesn't exactly twist my arm to ride Metro-North, it more than coaxes me into it by making private alternatives artificially more expensive. And so many people don't recognize that that's exactly what Obama is trying to do with health care.

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