Demanding the trains run on time

DEMANDING THE TRAINS RUN ON TIME…. One of the underlying complaints of far-right “Tea Party” protestors is a rejection of taxpayer-financed public services. If the government imposes taxes to create programs to benefit everyone, the argument goes, it’s “socialism.” They recommend cutting spending and letting people fend for themselves. It’s what “freedom” is all about.

Occasionally, though, those principles run into practical problems in amusing ways.

Protesters who attended Saturday’s Tea Party rally in Washington found a new reason to be upset: Apparently they are unhappy with the level of service provided by the subway system.

Rep. Kevin Brady called for a government investigation into whether the government-run subway system adequately prepared for this weekend’s rally to protest government spending and government services.

Seriously.

The Texas Republican on Wednesday released a letter he sent to Washington’s Metro system complaining that the taxpayer-funded subway system was unable to properly transport protesters to the rally to protest government spending and expansion.

Apparently, Brady heard complaints from some of his constituents who traveled to D.C. to protest “big government.” They were disappointed to discover, however, that the government hadn’t done more to satisfy their public-transportation expectations, and now want other government officials to address the problem.

In some instances, Brady said constituents relied on private enterprise — taxi cabs — rather than the (ahem) public option. The conservative lawmaker described this as a bad thing. Local officials, Brady said, should have made “a great effort to simply provide a basic level of transit” to the public.

Read that sentence again and replace “transit” with “health care coverage.”

I should add, as someone who rode the D.C. metro every day for seven years, that the system has some fairly dramatic flaws — in large part because it has no dedicated source of revenue. Without real investment, the system makes desperate pleas for funds, some of which go unheeded. The result is dramatic deficits, which in turn lead to cutbacks in services.

Any effort to improve the system would be rejected by lawmakers like Brady and activists like the ones who protested government services on Saturday.