Sunday, August 12, 2012

Da por un viaje gratis

Argentines are the latest to discover there's no such thing as a free ride.  Instead they're hostages;

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — There was still no exit Saturday in the weeklong subway strike in Argentina's capital, where a million commuters are caught in the middle of a power struggle between President Cristina Fernandez and Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri.
The strike began Aug. 3 with workers demanding a 28 percent pay increase to match inflation. The problem is the politicians can't even agree on who's running the system let alone where the money should come from.
From the Argentines, that's where, of course.

All the elements for a disaster are present;

The city's six subway lines were privatized in 1991 and the workers are nominally employed by a private concessionaire, Metrovias, but the system hasn't generated enough profit to defray operating costs for many years.
Both fares and salaries are set by the government, and the subway lines and cars are also public property. Only fat government subsidies have kept the subways operating, and since January, the president has made it the mayor's responsibility to come up with most of that money.
And like all politicians he doesn't want to admit to potential voters that they're going to have to pay the costs of their transport.  Just as the Laws of Supply and Demand dictate; when prices don't move, shortages develop.  In this case the commuters are short by about 100% of the capacity to move them from where they are to where they need to go.

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