Tuesday, June 16, 2009

India - The case for free public transport

....If governments can spend billions of dollars bailing out corporations, they can surely spend a few million dollars on taking steps to drastically reduce the number of private vehicles on the roads, as that would sharply reduce global warming which is pushing the world towards catastrophic conditions. In fact, the need of the hour is to make public transport entirely free. The benefits are huge. Leave aside the consequent drastic improvement in quality of life due to improved air quality, no congestion, huge open spaces even in cities which can then be converted into gardens, peace of mind due to drastic reduction in risk of accidents, all of which cannot be measured in monetary terms; for a country like India, this is also a very viable proposition commercially. For, the foreign exchange savings, savings in oil consumption, and savings in medical bills from improved air quality and reduced accidents will be far more than the cost of providing this free transport.... Lokayat

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Oil price is the fly in the recovery ointment

In the U.S., government stimulus money is being used to bail out years of misguided investment in unsustainable autosprawl -- spread out buildings accessible only by motor vehicle. USD Billions in printed/borrowed money are being invested -- risking hyperinflation. But instead of investing in public transport and rail, most of the money is for autos, banks, and roads, propping up the same system that has failed. The plan is to have a recovery without inflation, but fossil-fuel prices stand in the way, and the dependence is being made worse. The U.S. government desperately wants to control the price of fossil-fuels, but even after massive military effort, it cannot.

Economist Abheek Barua lays it out:

...The upshot is that for most commodities there is a fundamental tendency for prices to rise. The fact that they tend to be traded as assets exaggerates this tendency and causes prices to flare up more than the simple arithmetic of demand and supply would suggest.
Thus the prospect of oil prices returning to $100 a barrel seems real. Could it derail the nascent recovery in the global economy that seems under way? Some (including Krugman perhaps) would argue that central banks should focus entirely on ‘core’ inflation and not try and fight price pressures in commodities by tightening money. A spurt in oil or other commodities would tend to be ephemeral and would not ‘embed’ itself into the economy unless real demand conditions picked up.
That, for any central bank, is a difficult call to take. It is certainly not one that the bond markets would buy into. They would tend to take cues more from headline inflation numbers rather than core inflation trends. Thus rising commodity price inflation is likely to translate into higher bond yields and higher interest rates in general...

--Abheek Barua chief economist, HDFC Bank, his "personal" views as published in the Business Standard

Monday, June 8, 2009

Auckland, NZ - Greens propose FPT for Students

Green Party Co-Leader Dr Russel Norman has today unveiled a bold plan to cut traffic congestion, reduce air pollution and help the economy.
“Our new Green Party policy will provide free public transport for all school students during school times and a 50 percent discount at other times. We would introduce the policy for a one-year trial, then review it.
“Our policy is particularly relevant to our biggest city Auckland. Any Aucklander will tell you that road congestion dramatically reduces during school holidays, when children aren’t being driven to school.” Scoop

Friday, June 5, 2009

"Build roads, drop bombs" policy - so stupid it's funny

The U.S. Government, enslaved to fossil-fuels and the autosprawl system, is ready to chop social services rather than give up its hopeless energy wars. With the annual federal deficit projected at $1.84 trillion, the U.S. Treasury secretary is laughed at by college students in China. The students can see how stupid is this chosen path. Now the chattering classes in the U.S. are ready to throw grandmothers on the street rather than give up their precious trips to the beef window in their gas guzzlers.

Simple solution - make all public transit free. Gradually eliminate all subsidy for oil, coal, and auto. Stop the energy wars. Gradually move back to walkable towns. Give the suburbs to the organic farmers.