Week Ending May 20

These are some of the stories from the “inside pages” that caught my eye the week ending May 20:

  • Political extremism and violence in the United States
  • Mandatory voting
  • And gas prices, Covid, and public transit

Most Extremist Violence in The United States Comes from the Political Right  

This NYT headline may well elicit a reaction from some. However, as the New York Times articulates, numbers do not lie. Over the past decade:

  • there have been 450 murders committed by political extremists
  • the extreme right-wing accounts for 75% of these
  • Islamists – 20%
  • and this leaves about 4% for the left and 1% for others 

And the violence from the right goes beyond the 337 slayings and the US

Mandatory Voting

Anthony Albanese, Australia’s prime-minister elect

Every Australian of age had to go to the polls on Saturday, May 21 as voting is compulsory. The result – Aussies have elected Anthony Albanese, Labour over the incumbent, Scott Morrison, Liberal. Liberals in Australia equal Conservatives in Canada and the UK. So, a move to the left! 

This is not what I found interesting. Friday’s Monocle Daily reminded me that every Australian voter must cast his or her ballot. While neither Morrison or Albanese inspire, voter turnout is assured. Monocle puts forward the argument that Australia’s political placidity results from the compulsory vote. Not only does this rule force turnout, it ensures that voting rights and poll access are as broad as possible. Geez! The makings of a real democracy?

“Australian politicians cannot win by winding up a partisan minority base and must pitch their case more broadly”. Andrew Mueller, The Monocle Daily, May 20, 2021 

The Future of Public Transit in Britain 

Empty Tube

The economist features an interesting article on the drop of public transit trips in London. Some selected statistics:

  • The Tube (subway) is about 75% as busy as in pre-covid times
  • Buses are at 80% of pre-covid
  • The missing riders are not in cars – automobile registrations are down 38%
  • Rush hour travel is down over 30%, but weekend travel is down less than 10%
  • Trip length averages have dropped 1.6 km

Much of the commuter decline relates to changing work habits and not fear of public transit. While the statistics will be different from metropolitan area to metropolitan area. However, the trends will likely be similar. 

So what to do? It seems to me that the surge in gasoline prices should drive more people onto public transit. So, lower and simplify fares to make the choice between car and bus more self-evident? Also, continue to encourage active transportation – more pedestrian streets and cycling lanes? And maybe, better coordination all  forms of public transit including bicycle-share programs. Ease and convenience of use will drive ridership. 

Quote for the week ending May 20.

The House GOP leadership has enabled  white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism. History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. @GOP  leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.”

Liz Cheney, Representative, Republican, Wyoming

That’s it for the week ending May 20. 

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