More Evidence That Arthur Herzog’s Novel “IQ 83” Is Coming True—Beside The Fact That Bernie Sanders Is Leading The Race For The Democratic Nomination, That Is

It’s not exactly “Is We Getting Dummer?” the New York Times headline in the prescient science fiction novel, “IQ 83,” by Science fiction author Arthur Herzog in which a man-made virus begins reducing the intelligence of Americans to idiot levels, but its close enough to cause concern. The NBC News headline is “Cities weigh free public transit amid rising costs.” Wait. what? Public transit is getting too hard to pay for, so the solution being considered is to make it free?

I assumed that this was just another example of incompetent headline writing, but no: if anything, the headline makes more sense than the rest of the article, in which we learn that:

  • Michelle Wu, a Democratic City Council member in Boston,  says that because  use of the  crumbling public transportation infrastructure of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is dropping and rush-hour traffic is increasing,  and the solution is to let everyone ride buses and subways for free.

The article doesn’t say Wu is a Democrat, and I didn’t bother to check. Trust me: she’s a Democrat.

  • Desperately in need of money for repairs,  local transit shouldn’t raise fates, but eliminate them, Wu and other progressives argue, because public transportation “is a human right, like health care and education.”

In “IQ 83,” Patient Zero is the brilliant scientist who goofed while trying to invent a cure for mental retardation. In the real ife case of Wu and others, Patient Zero is obviously Bernie Sanders.

  • We are told, that “some experts warn that free rides wouldn’t solve the issues besetting many public transit systems, including crumbling infrastructure, infrequent and unreliable service, and routes that take workers nowhere near their jobs.”

Really? “Some” experts warn that? Boy, what spoil-sports. Debbie Downers, I’d call them.

  • Kansas City appears to be the only city that is “considering” this pie-n-the sky” scheme, so the headline should have read, “One City And An Infected Boston Democrat Weigh Free Public Transit Amid Rising Costs.” Why Kansas City? There was a study! It found that free transit would increase Kansas City’s regional gross domestic product by more than $13 million a year and improve the livelihoods of regular riders along with new riders encouraged to try public transit without the fare barrier.

“For those living paycheck to paycheck, as most Americans are, even an additional $50 (the cost of a monthly bus pass) per month of income can make the difference in deciding which bills to pay,” the study said.

Well, that settles it, right? Studies have an unblemished record of never underestimating costs, making wacko assumptions about human nature, and leading states and municipalities into disastrous misadventures. Look at that light rail system in California!

  • There is the small problem, advocates of free public transit say, that free isn’t enough if the system is lousy, which KC’s apparently is. A 2011 report from the Brookings Institution compared 100 metropolitan areas of similar size to Kansas City and found that Kansas City’s transit system was among the 10 worst at connecting workers to their jobs, with only 18 percent of jobs in the metropolitan region accessible to job seekers by commutes of less than 90 minutes.

So Kansas city will have to spend many millions on upgrading its public transit before it’s worth making free.

  • Hayley Richardson of TransitCenter, a nonprofit group that works to improve public transit around the country, is one of those annoying naysayers like those why say the Green New Deal is nuts. “A bus that comes once an hour that’s free isn’t useful to people,” she told NBC. “The way we make transit useful to people is by making it come frequently and reliable.” The best scenario would be cities where buses arrive every five minutes in dedicated lanes and a country where most Americans can walk to transit.

 

Gee, I wonder what that would cost? Never mind; it’s a human right.

  • Back to Wu: Wu says better and free transit is an environmental necessity. When her office surveyed young Bostonians about how they’d like to travel in the future, the majority said they wanted to use cars because public transit was expensive and unreliable.

Translation: American like automobiles because cars mean personal freedom…which really is a human right….and depending on public transit means being at the mercy of the government and government competence and efficiency.

Oh, never mind. All Wu and other infected progressives have to do is wait until the average IQ hits 83 or lower, and the idea of free public transit will seem completely logical.

 

25 thoughts on “More Evidence That Arthur Herzog’s Novel “IQ 83” Is Coming True—Beside The Fact That Bernie Sanders Is Leading The Race For The Democratic Nomination, That Is

  1. I would like to fit all public officials and candidates for public office with shock collars, and give them a jolt every time they refer to something provided at public expense as “free”.

    • You always have to remember that these public transit services are subsidized. They only charge a small percentage of the cost of the service to use it, the rest is made up with taxes. People find these minimal charges too expensive. Why is that and what does that say about the efficiency of the system?

      I just calculated how much each trip in my car has cost me in the 7 years of ownership. Cost/mile isn’t a good estimator for this, cost/trip is however. When you get on a city bus, you pay a fare for that trip. My car has cost me $1.75/trip on average over the last 7 years. I plan on keeping it another 5 years at least. At that time, the cost/trip will have dropped to about $1.20. The car is a very inefficient way to get around, but it seems cheaper than taking the bus. The cheapest bus fares in Boston are $1.70 and that system is subsidized by over $600 million/year. So, why is mass transit so ‘efficient’?

      BTW, the car I used for the calculations I purchased brand new in 2012.

  2. I am reminded of the great business person who sold goods for less than he paid . When told he would lose money that way he said ” not so, I’ll make it up on volume”.

  3. Public officials should be required to use public transportation, always. No chauffeurs, gov’t vehicles, nothing. They come and go to work on the bus, go to remote meetings on the bus, go to “power lunches” on the bus. Once they have a couple years of experience with it, then they can tell others that they must use it.

    • Mike, The problem is will be that they all can say they all use public transportation without technically lying. Don’t we pay for the chauffeurs, and government vehicles. What they won’t say is that no one else can use it.

    • In fairness, AM, I have seen it done.

      When I was a college student in Boston, Mike Dukakis was governor. He had pledged, among other things, the eschew the limo and ride the Green Line between City Hall and his home in Brookline. I saw him on the train a number of times.

      I don’t know how long he kept that pledge, because I graduated in ’77 and headed north. He continued in office until ’79 and then won the office back in ’83, continuing until ’91. No idea if he resumed riding the train. But he DID ride that train at least two years.

      Had he won the White House; I rather suspect he would not have used the Metro.

  4. Michelle Wu is being groomed to be Mayor of Boston. Imagine what she’ll come up with if she ever gets that far!
    One thing she doesn’t mention, very convenient, is that MBTA, like all public transit systems, has union pension stuff, interesting overtime schemes, etc. So when you throw a lot of money at it, I don’t what percentage goes towards the problem, while the rest goes to “other”. Basically, this is why we can’t have nice things.

  5. While the focus is on Michelle Wu, Bloomberg’s past comments regarding the intellectual skill sets of farming and manufacturing are beyond the pale for stupidity. He flat out stated that farming requires only the ability to dig a hole and plant a seed, while manufacturing – using a lathe – one only needs to turn on the machine and make it go the right way.

    Sure, he was not running for president at the time he made those comments but for him to suggest that the analytical problem solving skills the information age requires are not present in these occupations is prima facie evidence that he either lacks analytical skills when he made such a deduction, or his cerebral library of information on occupational skill sets has too few volumes of information.

    While we are closer to AI than we were when Bloomberg established his financial reporting enterprise that allowed investors to make better investing decisions, most computing still relies on if x do y, if not do something else. If the computer cannot make sense of the data it returns an error code and stops, Fundamentally the computer says, in the immortal words of the robot from Lost in Space ” That Does Not Compute”.

    The fact is that IT is about processing and codifying bits of information that other people who are not in the “information industry” create. The IT worker is in many ways merely a librarian for managing the storage of real creative knowledge and the ability to retrieve it quickly. Unless you understand properties of fluidics, mechanics, material sciences you cannot create an engineering computer program that does anything worthwhile. The same is true in most other industries. The creation of knowledge does not come from the IT sector, it comes from people creating stuff that people want and need. Without that, there would be no need for the IT sector.

    When I taught Econ to first and second year college students a great deal of relatively basic math was employed. Invariably students would ask if they can use a calculator. My answer to them was I did not care but they should know that the calculator is merely a tool to get the wrong answer faster if they fail to understand the subject matter and rely on the computer to answer the question. I told them if you don’t have an idea of what the answer should look like you will not know if the calculator was correct.

    • I make the distinction between ‘learning to code’ and ‘learning to program’. The former only requires someone to follow directions and do what they are told. The latter requires that someone be able to figure out how to create something new that hasn’t necessarily been done before.

      Bloomberg is a typical manager. He feels that he can do anything that anyone who makes less than he does. Farmers are poor, so their job must not require any type of skill or understanding. Machinists are poor, so their jobs must not require any type of skill or knowledge. As my brother’s boss once said “I have worked for this company for 20 years and I still don’t know what you guys do, but you must be pretty good at it because I get great bonuses!”. Then he would turn around and try to tell them how to do their job.

      I think Elizabeth Holmes best showed this line of thinking among the coastal elite. She dropped out of Stanford to found Theranos. She decided she wanted to drastically reduce the amount of blood needed for blood tests. However, she didn’t have any type of knowledge or understanding of how to do it. She just wanted it done. Her assumption was that you just hire some ‘scientists’ and tell them what you want and they have to do it for you. The coastal elites gave her $9 billion because that is what they believed as well. “You had a great ‘idea’. Just hire some ‘poors’ to do it for you and then rake in the money on the backs of their labor.” Unfortunately for them, idle wishes (drastically reducing the amount of blood needed for blood tests) is not really and idea. It is just an idle wish. Scientists are not genies and can’t do magic. Your wish is not their command and there are limits to what can be done. To do something new, you actually have to figure out how to do it.

      This last part is where our elites fall down. They just think if we throw money into a pit, it makes stuff better. Declare it ‘free healthcare’ and everything will be fine. Cancel all student debt and it will make the world better. Pay teachers more and they will actually educate the kids for a change. They don’t know how anything works and they think money is magic.

      • In my view, Michael R., that was COTD-worthy. Theranos is a SPECTACULAR example of the degree of hubris, arrogance and wishful thinking that’s all to rife these days – and exactly reflective of the issue at hand. Bravo!

      • “I make the distinction between ‘learning to code’ and ‘learning to program’. The former only requires someone to follow directions and do what they are told. The latter requires that someone be able to figure out how to create something new that hasn’t necessarily been done before.”

        I believe the equivalent in machining is whether someone has the skills to write the instructions to choreograph a the dance of the machine that fabricates a complex part; an artificial hip joint for example. That would be your machinist programmer. In contrast, you have some basic G and M code routines that you simply buy from 3rd party coders to plug into your programs.

        The true machinist can visualize the end product, analyze the stresses of the product determining what type of material is the most efficient, the cutting, milling and drilling steps necessary to achieve the end result and can program the machine to do just that. The true machinist can make the same part by hand without the CAM package it just takes a bit longer.

        You take teach most any good machinist to code but you sure as hell cannot teach any programmer or coder to be a machinist. Those programmers that can visualize pathways and connections are the exception not the rule.

      • Michael R,

        Oh my gosh, that last paragraph was an eye-opener! Great thinking and you explained your thoughts well. You know I’m going to use some – or all – of that in conversation. I’m trying to imagine the President using that in a debate…

        Someday I will be much smarter…this site helps with that.

  6. Amazing how those who advocate such wonderful ideas are never those who have to use them.

    Kind of like Bloomberg wanting gun control but having armed bodyguards.

    You first, progressive nitwits.

  7. Hey, Bloomberg can change his mind. Consider his current position on Stop and Frisk. I’m certain that he means every word of his current position (yeah, sure).

    So maybe he’d change his mind if he watched THIS (caution – 20 minutes long, but worth every moment):

    • I saw an interview with a Google engineer about this (during the Obama administration). He said the idea of self-driving cars was to get rid of the private ownership of automobiles. Google was working with the Obama administration on a way to force everyone to move to high-density cities where they would only have public transit and self-driving cars (for the good of the planet, of course). If people wanted to go somewhere, they could just call a car on their app. The cars would be stored in high-rise parking garages. It just boils down to control. Subject: “Google app, I need a car to go to the anti-government rally at the Capitol” Answer: “Sorry, there are no cars available. This request is being relayed to local law enforcement.”

      Remember, the Democrats were mad at Beto O’Rourke because he openly voiced the plans of the Democratic Party. In the debate where he famously said “Hell yes, we’re coming for your AR-15’s, your AK-47’s”, he didn’t stop there. He went on to say he was going to ban cars (of all types) and forcibly relocate everyone close to where they work. (OK, he said he would trade you your current home for one close to where you work). Sounds suspiciously like the dream of the Google engineer and the Obama Administration.

  8. Funny how it is when people choose not to buy government services that yield less value than desired, the government wants to lower the price to zero but if humans cannot or just barey delivers enough labor value to a business to cover its cost the same elected leaders want to force the business to pay more for it

  9. The economics of public transportation are counter intuitive, and this plan is not as insane as it sounds. However, for a city like Boston, it would be absurd to eliminate ridership fare.

    Let’s look at my hometown. We have one bus hourly from 7 AM to 10 AM, and 2 PM to 6 PM, that connects to a neighboring city. The farebox recovery ratio is about 15%: For every dollar spent on the service, customer fares return $0.15 – 15 cents on the dollar.

    The bus is provided as a bare bones courtesy for those who need it. If the bus company raises the fare, ridership will go down, because people cannot afford to use it anymore (they then cannot get to work…). Fare recovery goes down with an increase in fare, but the cost of running the shuttle remains the same. The very population it is meant to serve is not served. We’d be running an empty bus back and forth.

    In all truth, my town subsidizes 100% the cost of the shuttle under its contract with the city; the $2.00 fare effectively pays for the transfer to a city bus. Eliminating the bus fare only modestly increases the necessary public subsidy; any expansion of hours or geographic distance would also require an increase in subsidy.

    If we look at a city like Boston, the economics are very different. The service is still provided for those who need it, but a great many more need it. The fare box recovery is closer to 30%-50%. The cost of the service is the same whether people are on it or not, so the city offers discounts for bulk purchases to attract people who would otherwise use a car. This has the positive effect of increasing ridership and improving the fare box recovery slightly; it also has the perverse effect that the people who need it the most pay the most for it.

    Bus and/or train service, like any service, is subject to supply and demand. Raise the fares, and demand goes down. However, as ridership goes down, the farebox recovery goes down, and the public subsidy goes up; the cost of operation does not change. You need to find the careful sweet spot where ridership is affordable for those who need it, attractive to those who don’t need it, yet economically viable given the available public subsidy.

    Given that up to 50% of operating costs can be recovered, it is absurd to say that fare should be eliminated. However, to say that fare should be raised to cover capital costs is almost equally absurd; these companies all ended up under public ownership because the fare box alone is not adequate and the private operators went bust.

    The city needs to do an economic forecast to compare the cost of public subsidy at increased rates to fund capital improvements, versus the cost of maintaining (or cutting) current levels. This is a complex model, balancing time lost to traffic delay from people repelled by increased fare or decreased service, the cost of delay due to service breakdowns, and perhaps most difficultly by also least easy to forecast, the cost of denied opportunity for people who cannot get jobs because they cannot afford the fare.

    It is a perverse loop: fewer people employed, fewer taxes collected, the burden of subsidy falling a smaller few. It can also be a synergistic loop: more people employed, fewer lost hours of work due to traffic and breakdowns, more taxes collected, the subsidy being spread across many. One hundred percent subsidy is a fools errand (look at the state of our untolled highways and bridges), but the economics of increased subsidy can certainly have a positive projection.

    The community must accept the risk.

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