Taxing Our Lives: Unpaid costs and wages in transit

The film Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a surreal comedy-fantasy depiction of a city run on entertainment in which a corrupt judge, who runs a company that took over a trolley car line, attempts to take over and buy the city. The fantasy is based in some reality. In the 1930s and 1940s, an alliance of major automotive capitalists united to purchase mass transit companies and replace electric rail services with buses. Firestone, Standard Oil of California, Phillips, General Motors, Federal Engineering, and Mack formed corporate front companies for these purposes, and a 1947 federal anti-trust suit found them guilty conspiracy to acquire control of a number of transit companies to form a transportation monopoly, and conspiring to monopolize sales of buses and supplies to companies owned by the City Lines (one of their front companies)[i]. While it’s been suggested that this is the major reason for the collapse of mass transit in the US, the data is lacking. The impact of the so-called GM conspiracy has been overstated; other larger factors probably played a more significant role in the demise of mass transit. There is however a shadowy underbelly to the role that transit plays in our lives.

Continue reading

Advertisements