Go Socialist, Take The Train
Thanks goodness I read George Will’s column, “High Speed to Insolvency,” in Newsweek (3/7/11). I had no idea I was a socialist.
In an attempt to lambaste the Obama Administration’s efforts to reinvest in America’s passenger rail network, including high-speed rail, Will writes that “progressives” like trains because they get people out of cars, and progressives want that because cars reflect American individualism, which they hate.
I had no idea when I took the train from San Diego To San Francisco or, on one occasion, all the way from the west coast to Ohio, that I was engaging in an act of collectivism that undermined American freedom.
It never occurred to me that my desire to avoid traffic jams and snow and ice on I-80 by taking the California Zephyr was a sure sign of socialist tendencies. I guess I better join the collective, sell my three cars and start wearing drab clothes. Maybe I’ll visit North Korea soon.
I have an even darker confession. I once took an English train from London to Crewe to avoid driving in winter on the motorway. What’s worse, I enjoyed the scenery and a glass of wine. So I must be an internationalist as well. Maybe I’m an agent of one world government, and I don’t even know it.
One question for Will: If I take the train just once in a while, and still drive a lot, can I still be a good freedom-loving American? At what point does train travel cross the line into communism? Oh, and does it help if I sit in first class?
Will sounds like he’s channeling that old commie hunter Sen. Joseph McCarthy. He’s so over the top, no one could possibly take his column seriously.
What I wonder is why he’s so afraid someone wants to take his car or tell him when and where he can drive. By what logic does federal investment in passenger rail systems suggest a sinister plot to prevent people from driving? Where does this paranoia come from?
The only coherent argument Will makes against federal investment in trains is that they will probably cost a lot more and have fewer riders than their proponents will admit. I guess he means they are the same as everything else government does, including building highways and bridges, buying computer systems, oh yes, and fighting wars.
I wonder why the train-haters like Will never talk about the financial burden of our highway transportation system. They never seem to mention that the federal gas tax has been kept way too low for many years because our politicians will not raise it to actually cover the cost of our roadways. (It’s been 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993.)
Will and his ilk rely on wild attacks based on some paranoid vision of a grand plan to impose socialism on car-loving Americans. They refuse to discuss why the biggest publicly-owned asset in America, our road system, is in such bad shape despite all the billions of dollars we put into it year after year, or how it can possibly be expected to be upgraded sufficiently in regions where our population is growing.
Will prefers to bloviate in the most absurd terms possible. But I’m sure he drives a nice car, and that must make him a virtuous defender of American principles. Because driving equals patriotism, just like the founding fathers said. Right?
--- Andre Shashaty