If approved this proposal will renew the 0.59 mills levied by Macomb County in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 and allow continued support for public transportation through a contract with the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) or other public transportation authority, for the purpose of serving the elderly, handicapped and general public of Macomb County.
Shall the 0.59 mill, (59 cents per $1,000 of taxable value), increase on the limitation on the amount of taxes imposed on taxable property in Macomb County, which expired with the 2009 tax levy, be renewed for four (4) years, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, inclusive, for public transportation through a contract with the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) or other public transportation authority, for the purpose of serving the elderly, handicapped and general public of Macomb County? It is estimated that the 0.59 mills would raise approximately $16.4 million when levied in 2010.
Of course I support the proposal, but something in the wording really burns me. In both paragraphs, to wit, "for the purpose of serving the elderly, handicapped and general public of Macomb County." I'm absolutely sick of the notion that mass transit is some kind of charitable service we run for the elderly and disabled. It is for the general public, and since it's accessible to the elderly and handicapped, it's a more general public than the motoring public. Also, the general public of Macomb County? What? It is for the general public of Macomb County, but it's also to make Macomb County more accessible for work, shopping, even tourism. And it's also about making Wayne and Oakland counties more accessible to the 'general public of Macomb County.'
The mainstream cultural norms of metro Detroit, especially in the suburbs, include a tendency to look down on apartment dwellers and bus riders as either deserving poor (elderly and disabled) or undeserving poor (LOSERS). Maybe that made a little bit of sense when the auto industry was a mass employer in the area, and there was a community spirit of supporting the industry that supported the community. More recently the 'Big Three' have made it perfectly clear that they intend their future to be dramatically less labor intensive, especially when it comes to American and other 'first world' labor. Only a handful of 'Big Three' jobs have been made available to the younger generations, and even then under a system that is frankly nepotistic. The auto industry is no longer a regional jobs engine and never again will be. At this point in our history, we as a community have nothing to lose by taking our transportation business elsewhere. Quite to the contrary. If anything our car-centric infrastructure and hypersuburban land-use patterns will make us obsolete at some point in the 21st century. Already there is a suburban underclass emerging in America.