Presidential candidate Mitt Romney got himself into a lot of trouble last year by making disparaging remarks about the so-called “47 percent” of Americans who rely on the government for their needs. Actually, that number is much higher, and without a lot of those government programs, you may as well move the country to Botswana or someplace like that, which also doesn’t have indoor plumbing.
Regardless of who you are or what your economic level is, we all get a lot of things from the government that we take for granted. Whether you live in the city or the suburbs of New York state, mass transit is a big deal. Many of the high rollers who run hedge funds as well as the blue-collar employees of Wall Street rely on the Long Island Rail Road or Metro North to get to work each day. Without the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, there wouldn’t be any mass transit.
Long Island residents like to brag about their quality of life and boast about the best parks and beaches. Last time I looked, those much-cherished facilities belonged to the government, and without taxpayer support and subsidies from the government, they wouldn’t exist. If you think that the commuter railroads and subways are just paid for out of the fare box, you’re very mistaken. Without federal subsidies, none of the trains and buses would be running.
Which brings me to the issue of the U.S. Postal Service. The people who run our mail system are threatening to do away with Saturday delivery starting this August. The postal system lost almost $16 billion last year, and it has to do something to stop the bleeding. Cutting out Saturday service would save at least $2 billion, which isn’t small change. There is no doubt that emails and such services as FedEx and UPS have taken a lot of business away from our postal system. Oddly enough, the cost of these overnight delivery services would probably be doubled or tripled if there weren’t a postal service to keep the rates down.