At ‘Camp Charlie,’ Occupy the MBTA’s occupation of the State House steps enters its second day. Meanwhile, the board of the MBTA still refuses to challenge the dominion of Wall Street banks over public finances.
Last night, dozens of activists slept on the steps of the Massachusetts State House to protest the proposed service cuts, fare hikes, and layoffs. Occupiers also demanded that the T cancel its interest rate swaps with JPMorgan Chase, Deustche Bank, and UBS. Combined, these three cartels enjoyed more than $200 billion dollars in taxpayer bailouts. Their CEOs took home nearly $32 million in 2010 alone. Now, despite owing their existence to the goodwill of taxpayers, they will extract $26 million a year from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority every year for the foreseeable future. So far, the MBTA has resisted demands to cancel these toxic swaps and instead is attempting to balance its books through massive fare increases that will devastate seniors, students, the disabled, and low-income riders.
The MBTA loses $8.9 million a year to JPMC and is on the hook for another $115 million in the future to JPMC; it can only get out of these deals if it pays JPMC $40 million in penalties. The CEO of JPMC made $20.8 million in 2010 after the company received a $100 billion taxpayer bailout. JPMC is currently foreclosing on homes all around Boston.
The MBTA loses $8.3 million a year to Deutsche Bank and is on the hook for another $75 million in the future to Deutsche; it can only get out of these deals if it pays Deutsche Bank $23 million in penalties. The CEO of Deutsche made $8.3 million in 2010 after the company got a $66 billion taxpayer bailout. Deutsche Bank is foreclosing on homes all around Boston.
The MBTA loses $9 million a year to UBS and is on the hook for another $97 million in the future to UBS; it can only get out of these deals if it pays UBS $39 million in penalties. UBS received a $77 billion taxpayer bailout. It does not foreclose on homes.
As a result, the MBTA is ready to cancel nearly two dozen bus routes and increase fares more than twenty percent. This must be seen for what it is: a new chapter in the officially sanctioned robbery of the public trust by consolidated, private interests. Interests, it will be repeated, with a demonstrated inability to survive the open market in the absence of obscene taxpayer subsidy. These criminal, rent-seeking organizations are the products of government corruption and monopoly control, not free enterprise or competitive advantage.
For thousands of the 99% who rely on the T to get to work, the proposed changes amount to a massive tax increase, all of which will go directly to the banks. This should be compared to the four billion dollars in federal subsidies lavished on oil companies like ExxonMobil, who in turn spend nearly fifty-million dollars a year lobbying to continue their historically profitable destruction of the earth’s atmosphere.
Despite these obstacles, many other cities have forced bankers to the negotiating table by passing resolutions forbidding further business if they refuse. In this manner, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland and many others have succeeded in reducing interest rate payments, not only preserving their public goods and services, but reminding the multinational trusts that it is they who are in debt to us, and not the other way around. Occupy the MBTA remains mystified as to why the board of the MBTA and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is not willing to pursue a similar tactic.
We need a comprehensive, accessible, and sustainable public transportation plan for the 99% across the entire Commonwealth, not a short-sighted, short-term austerity band-aid.