Humans in Transit: Transit as Public Space

I am going to be on
a panel with Professor Robbert Flick of the Roski School of Fine
Arts and Victoria Schwartz from History for the The College
Commons next week. We will be discussing “Humans In Transit.” I
should have referred the organizers to Professor Krieger, but alas,
I am now on the hook. I will be discussing the tensions inherent in
public and mass transit as both a potential emancipatory public
space, and yet a space of violent conflict between states and

So if you’d like to come and protect me from the smart humanists,
here are the details:

February 22, 2011
The Infrastructural Human: In Transit
2 – 4 p.m.
Doheny Memorial Library 240
To secure your spot please RSVP to:
Walk-Ins welcome

Part II of the Infrastructural Series
As individuals and as collectives, humans are deeply reliant on
technological systems, or infrastructures, that serve to feed us,
salve our thirst, carry away our waste, keep us warm, and connect
us with others. The development and extension of these systems, in
turn, is fundamental both to individual experience and to the
capacity for collective action. Strangely, these complex, extensive
and fragile infrastructures of living typically do not enter into
discussions among humanists, social scientists and natural
scientists about the nature of the human, about our ethics and our
politics. This event will seek to address this gap, focusing on how
our systems of transportation — whether by air, land or sea — shape
us as individuals and as members of a collectivity.

Panel discussion:
Robbert Flick (Roski School of Fine Arts, USC)
Vanessa Schwartz (Department of History, USC)
Lisa Schweitzer (USC School of Policy, Planning and Development)

Obama’s budgets, HSR, and Who is Going to Lose their Jobs

The New York Times has in recent years begun presenting presidential budgets in interactive treemaps, and I think the presentation is really helpful and clear.

In transportation, all the funds fare well. Despite all the durm and strang, highways continue to capture a very large portion of the budget by either absolute or per person measures.

The big moves are obviously $5b for an infrastructure bank and the $8b for Federal Railroad Association, where Amtrack funds will get rolled into the Federal commitment to HSR, yielding a 53,000 percent increase for the FRA.

We’ll see how it all fares in the Congress.

In other HSR news, Governor Rick Scott joined the governors who have rejected the HSR proposal based largely on the trillion-dollar deficit. HT to Gabriel Rossman for that link.

Is Governor Scott wrong or right? (I have trouble remember it’s Governor Scott not Governor Rick.)

Anyhoozy. Let’s go back to the NYT Treemap again and see what’s what: who lost money, and how much debt is eating our lunch:

Budgetary losers:

The National Endowment for the Arts (-13.1 % on an already small budget)

The National Endowment for the Humanities (also -13.1 % on an already small budget)

The Small Business Administration loses nearly half its already small budget (-44 %)

The Environmental Protection Agency loses 13 percent of its $9 billion budget. Compared to the billions thrown at HUD($37B), I’m rather appalled at this.

Nonetheless, Community Planning and Development loses 5 percent of its budget.

The Office of Vocational and Adult Education loses -17 percent.

Employment and Training Administration loses half of its budget. Half.

He proposes to cut the IRS budget by nearly a quarter, which is wonderful wonderful wonderful news because that allows for even more tax evasion than we currently have. This? This is sucking up to the Republicans to show how the White House is reaching across the aisle.

The interest on the public debt? It’s doing well. It’s up by 15 percent, to $470 billion (more than all the programs I just listed above) and about $4000 per person.

I’m thinking people are going to be losing work with all these cuts.

Ah, but all this HSR will create jobs jobs jobs! Investment you know. Education? Pshaw! We all know human capital is a complete waste on the job front.

The Office of Federal Student Aid gets a nice big bump, at least–51 percent. The statement is clear: kids going to college will have to borrow more and pay more ultimately for college, but the costs of borrowing will be lower.

I am not sure what the distributional consequences are of the education cuts, but I have a suspicion. And it’s not progressive, even though federal student aid is.

I personally do not value HSR more than I value the NEA, the NEH, the EPA, or education for adult learners—often the US’s most economically disadvantaged learners. What do you value?