Government should remember the public

Posted: Monday, July 10, 2006

It seems that our government, from the president to the governor, has a bad habit of forgetting that the people they listen to most each day, those who lobby them this way or that, are not the public. We are the public, and it is absolutely necessary that we periodically remind them of that simple fact.

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Take the ferries. We must not meekly allow those who have a buck to be made - or who are in the pocket with the bucks - to distract us all from a few simple truths.

Here's one: Public transportation is for the public. It is not for the mining interests, not for the highway interests, not even for the statewide tourism interests. It's for the public. There is even a pretty good case to be made for those other interests helping to pay for our public transportation - but let's not go there just now.

Here's another one: Public transportation cannot be expected to pay for itself. It doesn't. It can't. That's not the idea. The public expects to pay for it, partly through fares and partly through taxes. The proper job of our government is to give us the public transportation we need, operate it efficiently and see that we get the best financial deal.

And one more: In recent decades, the highway interests have grown strong while the marine interests have weakened. Highways are not free after they're built, or even cheap. We have just gotten used to thinking of them that way. We probably already have more highways and cars than are good for us, and the fact is that this is a land of islands. The water is our highway.

We will all live to regret it if we let them distract us from these few plain facts.

Brooke Elgie

Tenakee Springs

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