Articles from the Boston Compass

Moment of Clarity with Jon Rizzo: The MBTA and Charlie B’s Long Con


There’s a lot of crazy shit happening in Beantown lately. Seen those fancy high rises going up but not much affordable housing? How about the fact that we’re shutting down a bunch of public schools yet gave millions to GE? Or that our city is the most inequitable in the country

Then there’s the MBTA. If you caught my last article, you know that the T’s financial crisis is the result of forward funding legislation that forced the T to take on private debt. Over 25% of their budget is spent servicing this debt alone. To hear Charlie Baker, you would think worker inefficiency is to blame. Let’s get to the heart of this stinking onion.

We’re now far enough removed from the passage of forward funding that Baker start passing the blame for operational failures–but not on a lack of funding for new infrastructure and technology.

Once in office, Baker helped suspend a law against privatizing public services for three years. Privatization is the weapon of choice for today’s politicians. Dem or GOP, our establishment politicians have swung noticeably right when it comes to economics, obliterating public services and gifting private companies the job.

Using last winter’s crisis as a springboard, Charles Chieppo of The Pioneer Institute, a conservative pro-privatization think tank said, “when an agency fails as spectacularly as the Boston transit system did, it’s time for competition” (Chieppo, was a member of the same board that crafted forward funding in 2000). Charlie Baker was also employed at The Pioneer Institute in the 90s, and today the Koch Brothers are its biggest bankrollers.

The MBTA isn’t the rat king in this situation–it’s the entanglement of elite business and Capitol Hill.

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