Article: The greater good sometimes served
- The greater good sometimes served
From time to time I hear complaints about people subsidizing services they do not use. Some students at UVic subsidize bus passes that are part of the tuition package even though they do not use public transit.
This is an old argument, but it is poor logic.
A community and a society should strive for the efficient delivery of a wide range of services while discouraging activities that damage society.
Avoiding the use of automobiles makes sense.
Of course it doesn't work out for everyone.
I ride a bike each day. But as a citizen, I subsidize the public transportation system and the road system.
True, I would like to see automobile drivers pay a fairer share of the cost of maintaining roads and other facilities. Gas taxes cover a small portion of these costs. Taxpayers subsidize those who drive automobiles more than they subsidize public transportation. But I still expect some of my taxes to go toward roads.
However, it is unreasonable to expect everyone to get "their share" of services. I do not wish to get my share of medical services.
Of course, I want a good medical system to be in place, for me as well as others when there is need.
With no children, why should my wife and I pay for good schools? Clearly, good schools benefit my neighbors, their children and the entire society.
However, when it comes to the public library, I really get my money's worth.
The point is that communities try to use financial incentives to encourage the intelligent use of resources.
Discouraging the use of automobiles makes sense.
A "free" public library encourages children to read. Those who do not borrow books subsidize the rest of us.
It is silly to think that the community services we utilize will or should balance out.
I would really have to keep the staff hopping at the Nellie McClung branch library to balance the amount I subsidize those who drive automobiles.
Department of Sociology
University of Victoria
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]