I hate when people say “I told you so.” I also hate when people say “I hate to say ‘I told you so.'” Since lots of people have been saying a lot of what follows for a long time, let’s get right down to it. Beyond anecdote and intuition, Matt Assad, Scott Kraus and Eugene Tauber give it to us straight in today’s Morning Call:
Lehigh Valley families earn less than they did 10 years ago and commute a heck of a lot more. We know it. We’ve sensed it. We’ve sat on 22 and 78 far too long far too many times, always, in these last four years, for diminishing financial returns. We know, don’t we, that these commutes are bad for our mental health, bad for our social life, bad for our family time, bad for our wallets and bad for the air? But we drive more and more for less and less, because, really, what choice do most of us have?
I talk about this a lot in my work with the Air Quality Partneship of Lehigh Valley – Berks. We can save money, time, and quality of life by abandoning outdated, unhealthy commuter practices. We can carpool and we can carpool more. We can take mass transit. We can pressure our employers to incentive transit and commuter programs that have already been established.
Not even two weeks ago, we learned that the air quality in the Lehigh Valley metro region is even worse than the federal government is telling us, according to the latest scientific standards. More single-car, single-rider commuting means more smog and, in long and short terms, greater health care costs. Increased costs of living and decreased qualities of life. When are we, as consumers, commuters, voters, and employees going to get serious about this issue? When are we going to demand that our employers and elected officials do the same?
Assad, Kraus, and Tauber also report on the widening economic gap the 2010 Census confirms. Kraus and Tauber offer more analysis here. It just so happens that the Lehigh County Conference of Churches is presenting a one-day learning experience on October 29 called “The Growing Economic Divide: Which Side Are You On?” Steve Schnapp, a nationally recognized educator with United for a Fair Economy, will be leading interactive educational experiences around these issues. Please register for this event, which is sponsored by Lehigh Valley partners including Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley (CACLV); Penn Northeast Conference of the United Church of Christ; Peace & Justice Committee (Mennonite: EDC/FMC); Congregations United for Neighborhood Action (CUNA), and the Peace and Justice Committee of First Presbyterian Church of Allentown.