Small Increase

That’s what an oblivious press has termed Chile’s attempted 4% increase in the cost of a ride on the subway. Chile, especially its capital, Santiago, has been in an uproar over that increase for the last several days, and the protests have expanded to address “social/economic inequality” in general.

The turmoil was triggered by a small increase in metro fairs in the capital….

Here are some round numbers, used for illustration, that compare a poor man and a rich man, one needing to use the subway to get to work or to get to market to buy other necessities and the other on a strictly occasional basis (he has personal transportation).  Subway use absorbs 40% of the poor man’s income, 4% of the rich man’s. Whom do you suppose that 4% increase hits the hardest? For whom is the increase just another coin in his pocket?

There may be good reasons for the fare increase, but not understanding the situation isn’t one of them.  (I’m ignoring, too, the relative impacts of a free market economy vs a centrally directed one, and separately, who should be making the fare decisions.)

And not too tangentially (excuse the opening ad)….

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