Peter Bautista asks: "How to make public authorities, like New York's MTA, more publicly accountable?"

This is a very good question and I don't have a great answer to it. By way of punting, I'll note that I doubt you could solve the problems in this regard in isolation from the more general problem of lack of accountability in local government. There's very little competition in local elections, which naturally leads to a lack of accountability. And key transit states like New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Pennsylvania find themselves in the top ten most corrupt list which doesn't help.

These are important issues. I've increasingly come to believe that questions about the quality of government -- not just in a pure goo-goo sense of avoiding corruption, but in the real-world sense that some public agencies are well-run and others are poorly-run -- are more important that people realize. Effective agencies (the public schools in Massachusetts, the American military, and the bulk of the public sector in Scandinavia) attract public support, public funds, public enthusiasm and wind up in a virtuous circle. Dysfunctional agencies breed cynicism, corruption, low pay, and despair. Merely changing policies in the absence of the ability to actually get the job done (Brazil has very admirable laws against doing this but it doesn't stop anyone, and in theory there are people in charge of preventing stuff like this in DC) doesn't accomplish anything.

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