Trains.com

Noam Chomsky on Mass Transportation

14716 views
87 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    September 2011
  • 6,015 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 7:14 PM

wanswheel

...

The track did not look active.  I see by the SPV Railroad Atlas that the line thru Lexington is abandoned.  MBTA's current commuter rail map also shows no Lexington line.  Maybe that is why Mr Chomsky is miffed.

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 19,378 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Monday, May 12, 2014 9:21 AM

The Harvard-Dudley bus route is a combination of two streetcar routes, Harvard - Massachusettts Station in Massachusetts Avenue and the Harvard Bridge (at MIT, not Harvard!), and the Massachussttes Station - Dudley via Massachusetts Avenue, Northhampton Street, and Washngton Street (under el on the latter from Northhampton to Dudley.)   Both went to part-time bus operation before WWII, then restored to full-time streetcar operation during WWII, then to part-time bus after WWII.   Then the day I reported as a new student at MIT in September 1949, Harverd Brridge was closed for reconstruction, and streetcar service began full time between a pancake crossover on Massachusetts Avenue near Memorial Drive in front of MIT and Harvard Square.  This lasted one week until Cambridge repaved Massachusettes Avenue between Central Square and Harvard Sq. without tracks.  So the Central Square -Memorial Drive section was grafted on to the Central Square Watertown trolley line, with Type 4's running full time, the only line then runniing onlyi Type 4's exclusively.  This eliminated PCC weekend service on this line, which was restored when the Harvard Bridge reopened in January with Massachusetts Station - Harvard Square buses, and Watertown cars again looping at the Green Street loop off Cenetral Square.   Harvard-Mass.Sta. went trolley-bus with Brill trolleybusses in April, and this lasted about 15 years before reverting to bus and being combined with line to Dudley that had been converted to bus during this period.   Watertown - Central Square was the last trolleybus line installation in the Boston area and one of the first to be converted back to bus.

  • Member since
    August 2010
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,955 posts
Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, May 11, 2014 3:09 PM

On that Lexington station Colonial Revival's putting it mildly.  It looks like Kilham, Hopkins and Greely were heavily influenced by George Washington's Mount Vernon.

www.dhr.virginia.gov/registers/Counties/Fairfax/MountVernon_photos.htm

See what I mean?

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 19,378 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, May 11, 2014 2:23 PM

Getting a bit rusty, I guess.   After last post I realized that the rigiht place to transfer from the Red Line, whether coming from Alwife terminal and parking lot or from commuter rail at North Cambridge, to the Harvard - Dudley bus is at Central Square, the station between Harvard Sq. aand Kendall-MIT.    Bus between Harvard and Central S, 6-14 minutes dependant on traffic, Red Line 2 miniutes.

  • Member since
    November 2005
  • 4,190 posts
Posted by wanswheel on Saturday, May 10, 2014 7:32 PM

"The Lexington & West Cambridge Railroad, incorporated by the legislature in 1845, was built to link Lexington and Arlington (then called West Cambridge) with the new line of the Fitchburg Railroad in North Cambridge. The line was completed in 1846, and the first train to use the line, on August 24th, chanced also to be the first train to enter the Fitchburg's depot on Causeway Street in Boston. But as an independent line without right to haul its own traffic on the main line, it could attract little freight, and the company soon petitioned the Fitchburg to purchase the road outright. This the Fitchburg declined to do. Instead, the Boston & Lowell Railroad, reaching after suburban traffic, discovered in the branch a possible feeder and bought control of the road, building a short strip of track from its line at Somerville Junction to Lake Street in Arlington. Renamed the Middlesex Central Branch, the line was extended to Concord in 1874. The Lexington station, probably built about 1846, is the only known survivor of a railroad station form that in the 1840s and 50s was very common, incorporating beneath the station roof, track space for the engine and cars. Although damaged by fire in 1918, the station retains the original elliptical trainshed opening. Along the outer rail, the roof is supported by a row of eleven boxed columns. In the early 1920s, the Boston architectural firm of Kilham, Hopkins & Greeley gave the building its present Colonial Revival details including cupola, roof balustrade, and colonnade along the front of the station. The interior has recently been renovated for use as a bank." (Library of Congress)

http://images.ta-clearinghouse.info/3-Rail-Trails/Minuteman-BikewayMassachusetts/

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 19,378 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, May 10, 2014 3:35 PM

Norman Chomsky has four mass transporation choices:   He can drive to the Lexington commuter station, take a train to North Cambridge - Porter Square and ride the Red Line to Kendall, near MIT East Campus and walk about a half mile to his office.  Or he can go by bus, trackless trolley, or Red Line (form Porter Sq.) one stop, to Harvard Square  and ride the Dudley bus almost directly across the street at the MIT main entrance stop on Massachusetts Avenue.  Or he can drive to the large park-and-ride Alwife terminal of the Red Line with the choice of getting of at Kendall or changing to the Dudley bus Havard Square as above.

Either way he has to use his car for the start of the trip.  Or bicycle or walk.. 

  • Member since
    November 2005
  • 4,190 posts
Posted by wanswheel on Saturday, May 10, 2014 1:49 AM

Chomsky resides in Lexington.  Walking to the bus stop might be a hardship.  He is 85.

http://www.mbta.com/uploadedFiles/Documents/Schedules_and_Maps/Bus/route06276.pdf

Here’s a video of the entire interview. He says, “Take mass transportation…” at about 19:30.

http://televisionnetwork.co/video/1mb-74eiLBE/Noam-Chomsky-Ecology-Ethics-and-Anarchism-28-March-2014.html

Transcript

http://chomsky.info/interviews/20140402.htm

  • Member since
    August 2012
  • 3,727 posts
Posted by John WR on Friday, May 9, 2014 7:54 PM

Mike,   

What really strikes me about Noam Chomsky is that he teaches in a city, Boston, with an extensive subway system and a more extensive bus system that reaches way out into the suburbs and there is a subway stop at MIT where he works.   So exactly what is the guy talking about?   If he cannot use public transit from his home it is because he lives in some exurb that is far beyond the city.   I have no problem with where he may choose to live but for him to say public transit is not available to him because of the American free market system is simply incorrect.   If he is trying to make a more general statement about the lack of public transit in many parts of America he really should be clear about that.  But given the area he lives in and the place where he works his statement does not make much sense to me.   

  • Member since
    August 2012
  • 3,727 posts
Posted by John WR on Friday, May 9, 2014 7:43 PM

Wayne,   

Somehow I doubt Noam Chomsky spends much time with Roget's Thesaurus.  I don't know about Das Kapital.   Recently I've been thinking about how ordinary lives of most famous people are.   As far as Professor Chomsky and mass transit see my next post.

John

  • Member since
    January 2001
  • From: Atlanta
  • 11,813 posts
Posted by oltmannd on Friday, May 9, 2014 1:59 PM

Paul of Covington

Phoebe Vet

People who deal in absolutes are generally wrong.  In this example: Free Market=good, government supported=bad.

   Amen.   I deleted the rest of my comments to avoid stirring up political unrest.

I tend to agree.  A the end of the day, there are no free markets, just market forces acting within the arena they are allow to play in.

In the case of mass transit, if the subsidies to build and operate are less than fares PLUS the overall good derived from having it, then it's justified.  

It's only when one thinks there is some sort of God-breathed, inherent goodness in the way we construct the institutions that govern the market "playing field" that things go awry.  

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Friday, May 9, 2014 12:35 AM

Sounds great Dave, and obviously was a wise decision when you emigrated.   Sometimes I wish it were so easy with health in Germany; if it were, I'd spend longer visits here.

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 19,378 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, May 8, 2014 10:06 PM

You are correct.  It is a great deal.  But I pay directly to the Kupot Holim (Sick Fund) Miyuhedet, not to the government.   I also could collect a government pension, even though I did not pay taxes working in Israel, since even when i worked in Israel I was working for a USA company, paying USA taxes, and was not then an Israeli citizen.  (Now I have dual citizenship.   So I can vote in elections in both countries which means I take the responsibilities of a good citizen of both.)  I do not collect this pension at the present time, feeling it is not morally responsible to do so as long as Social Security meets my financial needs, in part thanks to the real generosity of the Yeshiva where I study and eat and spend Sabbath and holiday nights.

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Thursday, May 8, 2014 7:34 AM

According to the Israel foreign office, all individual pay in over their life based on income, but this is separate from the income tax.  The government supposedly collects and distributes to your HMO.  The monthly fee is lower, since you are retired.  it's a great deal for you, since neither you nor your employer paid in earlier , obviously, when you worked in US.

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 19,378 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, May 8, 2014 2:29 AM

Israeli income tax is progressive, like the USA.  But the fee for Kupat Holim is paid directly to the specific Kupat Holim and is not part of the income tax.   And unless one is completely indigent, it is not progressive but the same for all clients.   If one is completely indigent, one applies to the Government for its welfair department to pay the fee.  

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 2:19 PM

Always welcome, Dave.  Since the individual tax is progressive based on income ("from each according to his means"), that percentage would vary widely.   Up on the North German Baltic coast for the month, BTW.

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 19,378 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 1:55 PM

Thanks for the research.   For the time being we can assume Government 40%, employers 30%, employees 30%

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 11:50 AM

(from Israel foreign ministry):  "Sources for funding of health costs include progressive health insurance premiums paid by each resident, employers' health tax payments, National Insurance Institute funds, funds from the Ministry of Health budget and consumer participation payments. The insurance premiums are collected by the National Insurance Institute...employers' participation constitutes approximately 30% of total national expenditures for health."   I was unable to find the government percentage, but all the funding goes through the government, whether the individual, progressive tax or the employer health tax.

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 8:34 AM

Doctors often complain.   The biggest complaint of all of us providers is with the insurance companies.   One major opponent was Teddy Kennedy,who later regretted that to his death.

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    March 2016
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 13,017 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 1:56 PM

Keep in mind that the AMA was strongly opposed to Medicare when it was first established in the mid-1960's.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 19,378 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 1:53 PM

Did the Nixon plan fail to get votes because of insurance company opposition?   Or did doctors feel they would be too regimented/?

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 19,378 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 1:44 PM

Hats off to you for knowing more than I do about this.  Do you have the figures at hand on what the proportion of government contribution and fee contribution is?   Remember that Natanyahu during his first period of Prime Minster did steer Israel's economy away from Soicalism, and may have had an impact on health care to some extent.  If you don't know the current ratio, i will try to find out.

Arab Jerusalem residents who choose not to hold Israeli citizenship but are permanent Jerusalem residents can join the system and nearly all do, under the same terms as citizens.  I mentioned students and foreigners.  For Hebrew University foreign students, it is compulsary.  I think this is true of Ben Gurion (Beir Sheva), Tel Aviv U., Haifa U., Technion, and the one in the West Bank (blocking on its name at the moment).

I think that the big differences between Israel and Obamacare, are (1) the "Sick Funds" are both the insurance agencies and the health care providers.  (2) They are run by doctors, not by economists or beaurocrats or politicians.   (3) There is competition.   A very different form of "socialism" indeed!

The system had its start in the pre-state period when the system of the British Mandate discriminated against Jews (and Arabs), and Jews therefore formed their own cooperatives to handle health problems,, and these combined into the present four.

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 8:24 AM

What you pay is designed to cover only a portion of the actual costs. Israel has always had a national health plan, primarily funded by the state, ergo, "socialized" medicine.  You seem oblivious of this and oppose a national health plan in the US, yet you enjoy the benefits of one in Israel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_Israel

"The National Health Insurance Law (1995) set out a system of public funding for health care services by means of a progressive health tax, administered by Bituah Leumi, or the National Insurance Institute, Israel's social security organization, which transfers funding to the Health Maintenance Organizations according to a certain formula based on the number of members in each fund, the age distribution of members, and a number of other indices. The Health Maintenance Organizations also receive direct financing from the states money."

"Israel has maintained a system of socialized health care since its establishment in 1948, although the National Health Insurance law was passed only on January 1, 1995. The state is responsible for providing health services to all residents of the country, who can register with one of the four health service funds. To be eligible, a citizen must pay a health insurance tax. Coverage includes medical diagnosis and treatment, preventive medicine, hospitalization (general, maternity, psychiatric and chronic), surgery and transplants, preventive dental care for children, first aid and transportation to a hospital or clinic, medical services at the workplace, treatment for drug abuse and alcoholism, medical equipment and appliances, obstetrics and fertility treatment, medication, treatment of chronic diseases and paramedical services such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy."

"Participation in a medical insurance plan with one of the four national HMOs is compulsory for all citizens, who can select and participate in any one of them regardless of factors such as age, gender, or pre-existing conditions. All Israeli citizens are entitled to the same Uniform Benefits Package, regardless of which health fund they are a member of, and treatment under this package is government-funded for all citizens regardless of their financial means."

It seems like a good model for US and is similar to what Richard Nixon proposed in 1974:

 http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/stories/2009/september/03/nixon-proposal.aspx


C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 19,378 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 3:16 AM

Because I do not use any state-run plan, i use a state-licenced and regulated plan.  I do not know how much if any the state contributes to each of the four private doctor-run cooperatives.  These are available to all Israeli citizens, and to foreigners who pay a bit more, unless they are registered students, where all students, foreign and citizens pay less.  My cooperative is Miuechedet, meaning special.  Another is Klal, meaning for everyone.  There are two others, and the four compete with each other in service and price.  They all have their own pharmacies.  Major hospitals, all of which do receive some government funding and also raise money as charities, have relatons with all four of the cooperatives.   Some major specialists are independent, but will accept the plastic cards of any of the four, bill the appropriate one for services, and charge the seven dollar extra for their services.   Miyuechedet and Klal both have buildings in the Eastern part of Jerusalem where Arabic is the main language of signs and conversation, and both have built or converted new ones in the last year.    But one can meet Arab doctors in any of Miuechedet.'s facilities.   Their buildings are of course only for outpatient services, with no beds or operating rooms, which are what the hospitals provide.   

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Monday, May 5, 2014 2:43 PM

Dave K:  Why insist on private-only for those residing in the US, when you take advantage a state-run plan in Israel, thus paying a paltry $70/month?

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 19,378 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Monday, May 5, 2014 10:05 AM

But Dave, you make me ask the question, do you mean that your employer pays more than $1000/month of health insurance for each employee?  Or does the insurance company just charge a lot more for an individual than a group?  (It could not under the specific circumstances under my reform.) If you have to pay $1000 if you were a student and I pay $70, I must be getting one huge bargain!   And I am 82 and I was 64 when joined the plan.

  • Member since
    September 2007
  • From: Charlotte, NC
  • 6,099 posts
Posted by Phoebe Vet on Monday, May 5, 2014 9:47 AM

Very few people who find themselves suddenly and unexpectedly unemployed can afford the COBRA rates for their insurance.  I have very good health insurance.  If I had suddenly lost my job, it would have cost me more than $1,000 per month to keep that insurance.  Suddenly unemployed people are usually more focused on not losing their house than their insurance.

My personal feeling is that they should have just put everyone in Medicare or Medicaid, depending on their financial status and let the Insurance companies write Medigap policies.

That said, we have taken this thread too far off topic, so I am done with this discussion.

Dave

Lackawanna Route of the Phoebe Snow

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 19,378 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Monday, May 5, 2014 9:20 AM

Phoebe, that is why it should have been mandatory that people could keep their insurance after leaving a job by contuing the same payments as the employer paid.

In Israel, my "Kupot Holim" (translation, sick fund) costs me about $70 a month, $840/year.  It covers almost everything.  Except that occasional visits for a check-up or a diagnoses require a payment of $7.00 to the apointment.   I have had two emergencies since being here, and both were covered completely with timely and excellent treatment in emergency rooms.   In both cases, however, I refused ambulance care and insisted that a friend drive me in his personal car instead.   (One of the Yeshiva students was an ambulance driver and wanted to use his ambulance, which was the emergency care unit at the large assemby where the accident occured.)  Without my asking, the student stayed with me through the whole treatment process.  In one case he was wearing civilian clothes, in another case he was on leave from his reserve duty and was wearing his army uniform.  In this case, the diagnoses was at the Mt. Scopus Hadassah hospital and the treatment at the other end of the city at the Ein Kerem Hadasah hospital (where the famous Chagall stained-glass chapel windows are), and the hospital insisted we use their bus, not my friends car, between hospitals.  So he went witih me on the hospital bus.  And in the evening we went back by  public transportation to the Mt. Scopus hospital to fetch his car and get to the Yeshiva in time for dinner, but treated ourselves to a light rail ride  on the way without going out of the way.

Both accidents required face stitches.  But the first was not that serious and was handled at the emergency treatment facility close to the Central Bus Station, without needing to go to Ein Kerem.   In the second, before the diagnoses, they were shure a bone was broken, but it was not.

I joined the "Kupot Holim" when I first moved to Israel and studied at the University on Mt. Scopus.  It was a requirement; they require their students to join.   The University has switched to a different Kupot Holim, but I stayed with the one I had joined.  I have not asked what students at the University did.

I suppose it will qualify as mandatory health insurance and save me from any fines or extra taxes under Obamacare.

  • Member since
    August 2010
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 8,955 posts
Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, May 4, 2014 2:33 PM

We're drifitng way, way, way off topic here, even if it's a good discussion.  I'll say this about health care and no more...

DaveK's "humility" comment is closer to the mark than you think.  My sister's a health care professional, an administrator to be specific, and she's told me there's been plenty of times in her own clinic where people could have been helped sooner but just didn't want to ask for assistance or just didn't know help was available.  Certainly "one swallow does not a summer make" but the incidents are there.

Secondly, in an ideal world health insurance shouldn't be non-profit but we don't live in an ideal world.  Possibly treating health insurance as public utilities used to be treated is the solution.  Utilies, i.e. water, gas, electric were essentially monopolys because it was the only efficient way to deliver the services, attempting competition would have caused chaos.  So, public utility commissions were set up to regulate same businesses, ensuring they made enough profit to stay in business but not so much they became abusive of the monopoly status.

One thing is certain, there's no easy answers here.

  • Member since
    September 2007
  • From: Charlotte, NC
  • 6,099 posts
Posted by Phoebe Vet on Sunday, May 4, 2014 11:30 AM

My insurance company, that is located in NY, must not be aware that they are not allowed to operate in NC.

What you REALLY mean is that individual states shouldn't be allowed to regulate sales by big national companies.

I'm really fond of the statement about having the humility to beg some unnamed charities to help out.

I know someone personally who lost her 100K job when the company she worked for suddenly folded.  During the 2 years she searched for a new job, she developed a medical problem that nearly killed her because she couldn't afford to go to her doctor without the insurance she lost.  It went undiagnosed until her daughter forced her to go to the emergency room.

Health insurance should not be a for profit enterprise.  Every time I hear someone spout that false claim that a government bureaucrat will be standing between you and your doctor, I always ask if you need permission from your for profit insurance company to take some drugs or for some tests.  THAT is who has been, and will continue to be between you and your doctor.

Dave

Lackawanna Route of the Phoebe Snow

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • 9,610 posts
Posted by schlimm on Sunday, May 4, 2014 10:36 AM

I notice the type of plan I mentioned is similar to what your adopted country, Israel uses: four mandated universal HMOs with private insurance for more options.  And it works: ranked #4 in efficiency.

C&NW, CA&E, MILW, CGW and IC fan

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy