Share this page on facebook
Editorials
Riding into 2015 PDF Print E-mail
News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Tuesday, 30 December 2014 16:32

Public transit use is surging across the country and in Ozaukee County, where taxi service  hours should be expanded to meet growing demand

You would expect people to be driving more, considering the falling price of gasoline, but what they’re really doing is riding more.

    More Americans used public transit services in the third quarter of 2014 than in any comparable time period since the American Public Transportation Association began recording ridership numbers in 1974.

    The association reported that 2.7 billion passenger trips were taken on transit systems in the third quarter of this year, 48 million more trips than in the same period last year.

    The numbers are significant because:

    This year’s increased public transit use comes on top of record-setting 2013 ridership numbers. There is a trend here, and the arrow is pointing up.

    The trend has developed in spite of strong political opposition to investing in public transit systems, all of which require government subsidies. Municipalities that have persisted in improving mass transportation in the face of opposition from interests that prefer to have government transportation money spent on highways are being rewarded with strong public support for convenient, traffic-hassle-free light rail, street car and bus systems as well as the economic growth that is fueled by efficient public transit.

    The increased transit use is seen as sign of a shift away from the old suburban model for development—which is the father of urban sprawl—in favor of living in more compact communities where driving is less necessary.

    Public transit ridership is surging in Ozaukee County too, but here it’s not driven by convenience or lifestyle changes. It’s driven by need.

    Business is booming for the Ozaukee County shared-ride taxi service, which is now averaging more than 400 riders a day. Some days, well over 500 use the service.


    Most shared-ride taxi customers, lacking vehicles, driver’s licenses or the ability to drive, don’t have a good alternative. They depend on the shared-ride sedans, vans and compact buses for everything from going to work to seeing a movie.

    The aging of the population makes annual increases in the county taxi system’s ridership almost automatic. For a variety of reasons, many senior citizens don’t drive. Ozaukee’s elderly population is growing by about 4% every year. In 20 years, it is expected that senior citizens will make up fully one-fourth of the Ozaukee County population.

    With the steadily growing need for public transportation, it makes sense for the county’s Public Works Committee to approve a proposal to extend taxi service hours from 9 to 10 p.m. daily.

    With 25 vehicles and a full staff of drivers provided by a private contractor in place, adding the extra hour of daily service can be easily done and at small cost to taxpayers, an estimated $7,500 a year.

    In a time when it is popular to disparage the competence and cost-effectiveness of government operations, the shared-ride taxi stands out as a model of efficient service funded by a combination of federal, state and county tax money plus a significant contribution from the fares paid by riders.

    The system could not function without government subsidy. Any taxpayers who are bothered by that might keep in mind that supporting public transportation is a more efficient use of tax dollars than spending on highways, which like public transit, are paid for by general tax revenue as well  as user fees.

    The Ozaukee County shared-ride taxi service is a better value than usual this week. The service’s fleet and drivers will be standing by to give folks going out on New Year’s Eve a safe ride to and from their place of celebration. All it will take is a phone call, and people needing a ride will be picked anywhere in the county from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. And the rides will be free, thanks to the business sponsors underwriting the service.

    So add this to the manifold benefits of a well-run Ozaukee County public transit system: a safer New Year’s Eve on the roads.


 
It’s about peace, not war PDF Print E-mail
News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Tuesday, 23 December 2014 15:34

Christmas is in good shape, healthy, vigorous, more popular than ever.

    This is not good news for the sourpusses who keep yakking about all the awful things being done to Christmas.

    Outstanding among them are the cable TV talkers who rant about what they call the war on Christmas.

    Experts in the ancient art of setting up flimsy straw men and then knocking them over with a great show of bravado, they go to the ramparts each December to defend Christmas against supposed attacks by secularists, atheists and non-Christians among others who might deviate from what they certify as Christmas orthodoxy.

     Theirs is an orthodoxy that has somehow missed the fact that America embraces believers in a spectrum of religious faiths, as well as atheists who reject all faiths, and that for some Christmas is more a beloved national holiday than a day of religious significance.

    These yuletide defenders soldier on, though their fight must be frustrating, there being so little evidence of anyone actually making war on Christmas. They have to settle for outrage over the few objections to overtly religious Christmas displays on government or public school property that make the news each year and reports of people committing the offense of conveying well wishes of the season by saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

    Most Americans could not care less about such manufactured outrage, and are probably as likely to believe the Santa myth as the war-on-Christmas myth.

    Polls conducted by the Pew Research Center found that Americans love Christmas as it is. More than 90% of us celebrate Christmas. About half of the population observes it as a religious event, the other half as a holiday.

    On the subject dear to the hearts of the war-on-Christmas platoon, the poll found that 46% prefer “Merry Christmas” and everyone else thinks “Happy holidays” is fine or that it doesn’t matter what words we use to express happy wishes to folks during the season. As in much about Christmas, it’s the thought that counts.

    One of the nice thoughts about this Christmas is that those who have been getting mileage out of the phony war on Christmas seem to be running out of steam. Fox TV’s Bill O’Reilly, who pretty much invented the term “war on Christmas,” if not the war itself, has found so little to be outraged about this Christmas that he declared in a recent program that he and his cohorts have won the war.

    While elaborating on this, he was interrupted by a commercial break that featured a Fox News graphic wishing viewers “Happy Holidays.”

    Intentionally or not, the network’s choice of the generic holiday greeting that infuriates one of its stars underscored the absurdity of trying to make Christmas controversial. Whether in its religious or secular form, observed as the anniversary of the birth of Christ or as a national holiday, Christmas is a phenomenon that for a few days each year unites most Americans in the spirit of kindness, generosity and empathy.

    Christmas is about peace, not war.

 
Defying science, inviting measles and worse PDF Print E-mail
News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 18:43

The 1950s horror story of polio in Wisconsin should be a warning to those who refuse vaccinations for their children

Ebola, the disease born in Africa that causes death after appalling suffering in a high percentage of the victims, frightens Americans even though there have been only eight people diagnosed with the virus in this country, six of whom contracted it in Africa.

    Wisconsin residents old enough to remember the 1950s have an informed perspective from which to view the ebola scare. In 1955, a virus capable of inflicting mass suffering and death infected 2,544 Wisconsinites, mostly children, killing 166 of them. Many survivors were left crippled or with life-shortening health impairments. The disease was polio and being scared was wholly justified. Parents were terrified.

    That same year inoculations with the polio vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk began. By 1965 no new polio cases were reported in Wisconsin.

    Could polio come back? It could. In fact, its stalking horse is already here. It’s called measles.

    After years with no reported cases of this childhood disease once thought defeated forever by vaccination, there has been a flare-up of measles, recently including cases in Milwaukee.

    “Measles is making a terrifying comeback in the U.S., with some 600 cases reported this year, more than in any year in the past two decades,” according to Dr. Haider Javed Warraich of the Harvard Medical School. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, he laid the blame on “the increasing number of people refusing vaccinations, usually on behalf of their children.”

    Measles is not in the same league of dread diseases as ebola and polio, but there is a reason the doctor described its return as terrifying. Extremely contagious, measles can cause encephalitis, pneumonia and deafness. It can be fatal.

    Thousands of American children are being left vulnerable to measles because their parents have bought into various theories holding that vaccines cause autism and other health problems for children.

    These theories have been thoroughly discredited by science, yet the doubters persist and seem to be growing in numbers and influence. Distrust of science is not unusual in America, as the rejection of the science of evolution and climate change by large minorities attests.             Newsweek quoted a prominent antivaccine advocate in Mississippi as saying, “I saw the Disney movie ‘Bears,’ and if God gave bears the instinct to survive their harsh reality, then human beings certainly have the instinct to protect children. Mumps, measles and rubella don’t scare me.”

    Such ignorance would be easier to dismiss if it weren’t that children have to pay the price for it. And it’s not just the children of the vaccine objectors who have to pay it. Vaccination programs start to lose effectiveness in preventing disease outbreaks when less than entire populations are inoculated. It is worrisome that the percentage of children in Wisconsin who meet vaccination requirements is steadily dropping.

    Only 91% of Wisconsin students have received the required vaccinations. State law requires 15 doses of five vaccines to enter kindergarten, but parents can easily—too easily—opt out by checking a box on the immunization form and signing it.

    Wisconsin is one of 20 states that allows these so-called personal conviction waivers. The state should toughen the exemption standards by at least requiring consultation with health workers for parents refusing vaccination for their children.

     The outbreak threat now is measles. But the same root cause—parents who reject scientific proof about vaccinations—could lead to a decline in polio inoculations that could revive the infectious disease that once spread fear and, in many cases, tragedy in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

    Parents who demonize the vaccinations that are considered the most effective public health initiative in history should learn about that horror story. They need a good scare.


 
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Page 2 of 92
advertisement
Banner
Banner
Banner