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Suburbanites benefit from subsidies, too

I have noticed much commentary expressing indignation that some government programs assist working families in urban areas. I find much of this resentment to be hypocritical. After all, the modern suburbs owe their very existence to big government and taxpayer subsidies.

Federal intervention in the housing market, which made mortgages much more affordable, brought suburban homeownership to the white middle class (early FHA policy excluded minorities). 

Taxpayer dollars also financed or subsidized the construction and maintenance of expressway networks, infrastructure and other services needed by communities built on what was formerly forests or farmland.

Various deductions in the tax code, like those for mortgage interest and local property taxes, directly benefit homeowners. Services like mail delivery require much more time and fuel in low-density areas. And public subsidy of the logging and oil industries supports new construction and life in sprawling areas that require a car for every trip.

In our region, we see that fast lanes to suburbia incurred much more than a financial cost; expressways like the Kensington destroy property values in city neighborhoods and negatively impact public health.

The elimination of Thruway tolls means that all taxpayers must support roads used by those choosing to live farthest from their jobs. And New York State’s investments in the University at Buffalo put Amherst on the map.

So, before condemning a low-wage worker for qualifying for food stamps because he’s paid so little for his labor, stop to consider how many subsidy dollars flow in your direction.

Chris Willett

Buffalo