Friday, July 27, 2012

Step Up, Metro Atlanta, And Fix What's Broken

Rob Douthit

No, it’s not perfect. But the regional T-SPLOST transportation referendum is metro Atlanta’s best and only hope for the foreseeable future to address this region’s transit woes.

The mere fact that the area’s voters get to head to the polls to decide this issue is somewhat of a minor miracle.

It took a bipartisan effort to put the referendum on the ballot, and in Georgia, almost nothing is bipartisan anymore.

Whether at the federal or state level, bipartisan solutions are rarely lovable in their entirety, as they involve serious compromises.

But if we’re ever going to get anything done in this hyper-partisan political environment that we inhabit these days, we need to hold our noses and swallow the imperfect medicine that well-meaning elected officials (yes, there are a few left) craft when they work together.

The opposition to this referendum is led by those who say they are sick of paying taxes.


And you’re not sick of sitting in traffic?

And you think things that we depend upon to live in an organized society, like schools, police and fire departments and, yes, roads, are given to us by the tooth fairy?

Sorry, they come from tax revenue.

Those who say they love America, and sometimes say they love their state and their town, seem to sometimes forget that a lot of what stirs their passion came to them from, brace yourselves, the government.

Horrors, the government?

Yes, the government.

In America, the government is us, folks.

Don’t vilify the government unless you are willing to vilify yourself, your neighbor, your family members, your co-workers and so-on.

That’s who’s responsible for the government.

And in order for the government to function and provide the things that give us such wonderful lives, it has to collect, brace yourselves again, taxes.

Horrors, taxes?

Yep. We need ‘em to pay for schools we send our kids to, roads we drive on and police and fire departments and national defense.

And, when it comes to metro Atlanta, the region has grown tremendously over the past couple of decades, which means it has more needs.

More needs means we need to collect more money.

The T-SPLOST is an opportunity for the region to show that it has grown not only in size, but in its thinking.

It’s an opportunity to say that we’re going to do something that will cause some pain now, so that we can realize a substantial gain later.

Other opponents say that this plan leaves out too many areas, or leaves too many needs unmet.

Yep, that’s correct.

But again, we’re dealing with a compromise here, not the fulfillment of a fantasy.

Let this T-SPLOST complete the projects that are included in this package, then let’s take another look at what more we could do to make things better later.

Atlanta is one of the nation’s best metropolitan regions because of all of its positive attributes – low cost of living, vital business and social communities and a pleasant climate.

Let’s not let something like an inadequate transportation system be the region’s downfall.

It very well could be, if this referendum fails.

Please vote Yes on July 31.

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