Better questions & sour milk

Better questions & sour milk

The Port Authority of Allegheny County this week began conducting the first of three “Voices of the Customers” in-person surveys.

The first, which bowed Monday, involves customer satisfaction. The topics of the other surveys reportedly have not been chosen.

Here are a few pertinent questions that should be included in those future surveys:

  1. Are you satisfied, dissatisfied or neutral that, out of 28 metropolitan areas, the Port Authority was, in 2016, second only to New York’s transit agency for total operating expenses per revenue hour for buses?
  2. Are you satisfied, dissatisfied or neutral that the Port Authority’s cost per passenger for 2016 of $5.82 was the highest of nine peer agencies?
  3. Are you satisfied, dissatisfied or neutral that the Port Authority’s practice of buying labor peace has come at a steep cost, placed upward pressure on fares and the need for ever more state funding?
  4. Are you satisfied, dissatisfied or neutral that the state Legislature’s decision to allow unionized transit workers to strike — and the unwillingness of Port Authority management to stand up to unions threatening to strike — has resulted in a cost structure that is far outside the norm?
  5. Are you satisfied, dissatisfied or neutral that Port Authority CEO Katharine Kelleman rationalizes that it’s OK that passengers pay only 24 percent of the cost of their rides at the fare box because they are paying for the rest of it through state and federal taxes?

Again, these are just a few of the questions that should be put to Port Authority riders in subsequent surveys.

Pennsylvania dairy farmers are struggling, of course. And one of the reasons is that there’s a glut of milk on the market at a time when demand is falling.

Price floors designed to “save” dairy farmers are to blame in no small measure by encouraging over-production. But, as The Daily Caller notes, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program to market milk appears to have done more harm than good.

As the online news site details it, one Pennsylvania dairy farmer who is forced to pay $4,000 annually into the program thinks it is doing a lousy job.

As The Caller reports:

“The nonprofit that receives the largest share of dairy checkoff dollars has used the funds to finance ineffective promotion campaigns and has diverted millions of dollars toward lofty compensation packages for its top executives.”

Citing the Government Accountability Office, it says U.S. dairy farmers paid $332 million into the program in 2016 alone – and $1.21 billion between 2008 and 2016.

And referencing USDA data, the news site even notes that the supposedly iconic “Got Milk” campaign that ran for more than two decades was a bust – per capita fluid milk consumption dropped 24 percent between 1993 and 2014.

Too much milk. Too many dairy farmers. Too much government interventionism. And too many greedy hands in the dairy farmers’ pockets.

Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).