Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Letter to the President of the United States

Dear Mr. President,

I read a news article today about the owner of an Upper East Side Laundromat paying it forward, so to speak, by offering free drying cleaning to the unemployed. The sign in his window reads, “If you are unemployed and need an outfit clean for an interview, we will clean it for free.”

As you are well aware, so many of us have joined the futile search for – another job. The rest of us, the lucky ones, desperately cling to the poorly paying jobs we currently have. In the past several months, we’ve all heard one of two statements: “We are no longer in need of your position,” or, “I’m sorry, but due to the current economic situation, you will not be receiving a raise, bonus, or adjustment of any kind this year.” So, while the article concerning the Laundromat was uplifting in its own way, the following article concerning the proposed MTA fare hikes was not.

Americans must work to live their lives. And most of us depend on some sort of transportation, be it car, train, bus, or motorcycle, to get to work. According to 2005 study completed by the US Census Bureau, “About half of the nation’s public transportation commuters can be found in 10 of the nation’s 50 cities with the most workers age 16 or over. These cities account for 2.9 million of the nation’s 6.2 million users of public transportation.” As it stands today, public transportation is already eating away at our economically challenged pockets. The proposed 30% hike could mean that many of us won’t be able to afford the actual act of going to work.

As a personal aside, it’s tax season and with tax season came the realization that, on a monthly, even weekly basis, I am barely squeaking by. For me, the proposed hike raises my monthly Long Island Rail Road ticket a total of $75, for an increase of $900 per annum. This increase alone would make up 4.4% of my annual take home pay. What frightens me most about this proposition, aside from the possibility of not being able to afford traveling to work, is that I am much better off than many of my fellow Americans. On the radio this morning, I heard one woman’s lamentation on the proposed subway hike – 50 cents per ride. With a husband out of work and children to provide for, she wasn’t sure they could afford even this usually cheap and accessible mode of transportation.

So, why isn’t Albany helping the MTA and more importantly, its riders (you know, the American people)? In the wake of several unsuccessful bailouts, this one seems - too important to our economy and well being of our citizens to simply ignore. Dale Hemmerdinger, MTA chairman, told the New York Times that his message to Albany is, “How about just – ‘Help.’” I am asking you to do the same.


Concerned Citizen

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