Happy Equal Pay Day – Pity the legislature is voting against jobs and our future

Today is Equal Pay Day, by Presidential Proclamation:

Women — who make up nearly half of our Nation’s workforce — face a pay gap that means they earn 23 percent less on average than men do. That disparity is even greater for African-American women and Latinas. On National Equal Pay Day, we recognize this injustice by marking how far into the new year women have to work just to make what men did in the previous one.

Future Equal Pay Days may be mournful mid-summer affairs if the Massachusetts legislature has its way, blocks improvements to our infrastructure, and cripples our ability to compete with San Francisco, Singapore, and Melbourne. When hard times come, who gets hit hardest? The most vulnerable: people on their way up, agents of change, newcomers to the workforce, many of them women. Prosperity, by contrast, creates opportunities and makes change easier.

There may not be a lot of prosperity in Massachusetts in the future if the state keeps heading down the road it has been to global also-ran: a patchwork of roads and bridges built decades ago held together with rust and band aids, a metro rail system that is one of the oldest in the world and looks and functions the part, and an economically crippled leadership that has somehow convinced itself that the status quo is good enough. Our prosperity was built in large measure on transportation innovations, from the T to Logan Airport to Route 128. Today, we are way behind the cities I mentioned, and falling further back with every day.

If our trains ran as fast as the Beijing-Shanghai railroad opened in 2011, it would take an hour to get to New York. If the MBTA was as well run as the Hong Kong rail system it would make $20 billion in profits each year and subway stations would be air conditioned and look like this:

Our businesses and workers can’t compete against that kind of infrastructure any more than people in Asia could compete against us when we were building state of the art infrastructure. Which we are not, now.

Voting for the past is definitionally conservative and regressive. Progressives vote for a better tomorrow.


22 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Pathetic

    If Maryland can do it so can we. If a state where the Wire took place, that has a stronger conservative movement and tea party presence can raise revenue, get wind farms, get transportation, and pass socially progressive legislation so can the Athens of America.

  2. Honestly, I've never found this stat particularly useful.

    It’s way too general to have much meaning since there are so many variables, circumstances, etc.

    • Screw It! I;m Moving to Beijing


      eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Wed 10 Apr 12:58 AM
      • No baseball there to speak of

        Here is much better. But tickets beers and hot dogs cost a pretty penny, and at the rate we ate going there won’t be many jobs about.

      • I lived in Shanghai

        There are things they do better and things they do worse. We should learn from both.

        Hint: good public transit, terrible environmental protections. Good urban density in late 20th century construction, terrible urban design in 21st century Pudong. Oh, and they could really use some decent Chinese restaurants.

        • That's the trouble with China

          You can’t get good chinese

          eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Wed 10 Apr 8:41 AM
        • How about

          the Seaport?

          terrible urban design in 21st century Pudong

          What they’re doing down there may bring in revenue, etc. But as urban design I find it appalling. Nondescript buildings, not pleasant to walk around. They keep calling it the downtown of the future, but I’d rather stick with the old downtown.

          • Seaport is Boston's Hudong

            City blocks are far too big, they’re not pre-installing the mass transportation infrastructure that they’ll wish they had 20 years from now, not enough mixed use space, etc. etc.

            • H --> P

              Yeah, the letters aren’t that close on your qwerty keyboard. On my keyboard, though, Pudong and Hudong are just a fraction of an inch away.

            • They've got some train tracks out there

              Now inactive- it seems they were once used for freight. Be cool if they could extend passenger rail from South Station or something.

              • Bah.

                It would be cool if they would simply assign the Silver Line private roadway with traffic lights that go green for it at high priority.

                Way cheaper, way easier to maintain, way more flexible, and just as fast for such a short distance.

                And, if you want to dedicate surface area to mass transit, you need to allocate it before motorists think that they “need” it — because they will most certainly not want to give it back later.

                • See Centre Street

                  And, if you want to dedicate surface area to mass transit, you need to allocate it before motorists think that they “need” it — because they will most certainly not want to give it back later.


                  • Not sure what your point is.

                    Centre St in JP only has one lane each way. The E-line tracks necessarily had to share the same lane as traffic. Dedicated trolley lane would mean no lane for cars unless you are willing to widen the road, which would require either eliminating scarce parking or moving/demolishing buildings and even eliminating parking wouldn’t make enough room for a barrier to separate the train/auto lanes.

                    The time to have made room for public transit on Centre St was when the street was developed – but that was 100 years ago.

  3. Profit?

    If the MBTA was as well run as the Hong Kong rail system it would make $20 billion in profits each year

    If that’s the case, then borrow the costs to improve the T as your $20b profit would cover expense charges. Why exactly do you need all of this new revenue if we have this potential gold mine that you espouse? Given a $34.8b annual state budge and the possibility of $20b profit from the T, why raise taxes? Looks like we could slash taxes in half given your proposed windfall.

    Might want to scale back the rhetoric a bit.

    • Hong Kong

      is a huge city by population, on par with New York. We would not be looking at $20 billion in profits here, for sure. But the Hong Kong model has been this. First, invest to build a gleaming, well-functioning network. That attracts people to use it, generating much higher revenues than if it were MBTA-esque.

      Second, bring subway service to places that didn’t have it before. This generally increases property values in an area so urban that commuting (and doing anything) by car is a pain. It happened here with Davis Square, which took off after the Red Line was extended. It could happen again if we extend the Green Line to other dense neighborhoods, though the Green Line sucks.

      What’s unique about Hong Kong is that, under a theory of giving credit where credit is due and reinvesting in public transit, they give a decent share of the increased sales, property, etc. taxes in these newly invigorated neighborhoods back into the subway system. As I understand it they took the years before the subway as a baseline, and used a formula comparing economic growth in the newly train-accessible areas to the region generally to determine what growth to ascribe, roughly, to the train’s coming there.

    • Enjoy your 45-minute Green Line commute

      The people in our competitor cities have been home for 20 minutes.

      To your strikingly uninformed comments: the existing plan isn’t just for MBTA improvements, there is no sign of any improvement to our second-rate transit system along the common-sense lines I suggest, and sure obviously if the T is profitable there will be no need for state subsidies. Incidentally, while it is true that Hong King us about twice the size of Greater Boston a lot of its profits come from management of transit holdings in other countries, which the T could do too — if anyone was interested in accessing its management expertise and it had capital to make acquisitions.

      • Not likely any time soon

        a lot of its profits come from management of transit holdings in other countries, which the T could do too — if anyone was interested in accessing its management expertise

        Paris’s RATP (which is a public entity) also makes money managing other cities’ subway systems, inside and outside France.

      • Green Line improvements

        The proposed Green Line extension can have service comparable to the Red Line from North Station outwards. That, in itself, will provide an enormous boon to the affected communities and the region around them.

        The existing portion of the Green Line desperately needs extraordinarily expensive investment. At a minimum, the underground portions need at least four tracks (rather than the existing two), modern signals, and modern equipment. The existing B, C, and E lines need to be put underground. The current antique infrastructure effectively prohibits the use of twenty-first century equipment, as witnessed by the experience of the newest Breda cars. The same reactionaries who object to the cost of payroll and benefits required to operate the current system lock themselves into those costs by refusing to consider forward-looking alternatives. We force people to ride a system built before the first flights at Kitty Hawk in order to board a 787 at Logan. I haven’t seen recent estimates of all this, though I think I remember stomv offering some thumbnails.

        As staggering as the required investment is, the results are likely to be equally profound. Kenmore Square, BU, Alston, Brighton, Chestnut Hill, Beacon Street, Northeastern, and Mission Hill are all areas ripe for improvement. They already have the commercial/residential mix that the Seaport District profoundly lacks. They already suffer from too many cars, too little parking, too much automobile traffic, too many barriers to pedestrians, too much risk to bicycles.

        We face a momentous and historic choice. We can embrace the future, or continue in the death-spiral that grips Lawrence, Detroit, and — sadly — Boston.

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