Oklahoma City looks more and more like a Victor Hugo novel every day.
This is one of my favorite rhetorical lines, and sometimes I get email after using it. . . “What does that mean?”
Victor Hugo was born in 1802 in France, this was a time of great social turmoil. He is most famous for his novel, Les Miserables, which in our own time was made into an enormously successful musical.
The story of Les Miserables is a tale of the terrible social and political injustices of 19th century France, an era characterized by an enormous gulf between the “haves” and the “have nots”.
Comes now the news that due to declines in sales tax revenue, cuts are pending for the city’s bus service. The bus system is used by thousands of low income workers every day to get to work. But the city is in budget trouble, and one of the Council’s solutions is to cut bus service, without any apparent concern for the human cost.
This is modern class warfare at its best, or I suppose I should say, at its worst.
Last year, at the urging of the Mayor and Council and the Chamber of Commerce and most other city aristocrats, “MAPS 3” passed a vote of the people, an additional 1 cent sales tax to pay for several projects. Some of them were good projects, one in particular was pork for the tourist business, but opponents (I was one!) asked if now was the time to spend this money when cuts were looming in the city’s budget due to declining sales tax revenue. The Mayor and Council and the rest of the City aristocracy blew off such concerns.
The resulting vote was clearly based on class. Upper income neighborhoods supported the proposals, lower income neighborhoods opposed the plan.
Those who live in upper income neighborhoods are not dependent upon the bus system in order to keep their jobs. They voted for parks and grandiose tourist facilities, and thus they voted to beggar essential city services. Few of those who voted for the MAPS 3 plan are at risk for losing their jobs due to the loss of bus service.
Cutting bus service is one more step in the Les Miserablization of Oklahoma City.