blockitecture leaderboard

High-Speed Rail's Hidden Agenda

Writing for Newsweek, George Will claims that the real reason that progressives are gung ho for high-speed rail is because it suppresses the individualism of Americans and makes them more subservient to government.

Will says that the list of reasons cited by progressives for their support of high-speed rail -- "to improve the climate, increase competitiveness, enhance national security, reduce congestion, and rationalize land use" -- are "flimsy":

"The real reason for progressives' passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans' individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism."

"To progressives, the best thing about railroads is that people riding them are not in automobiles, which are subversive of the deference on which progressivism depends ... the automobile encourages people in delusions of adequacy, which make them resistant to government by experts who know what choices people should make."

For the latest in high-speed rail news, visit The Railist, a Planetizen news and information site dedicated to covering the ups and downs of America's high-speed rail project as well as news from around the world.

Full Story: High Speed to Insolvency



George's Geritol has fermented...

...Or his April 1st column was prematurely published.

"Automobiles go hither and yon, wherever and whenever the driver desires, without timetables. "

Uh Huh. Well, George, unless you are referring to some off-road ravine-inducer, automobiles go wherever the government-controlled, taxpayer-funded roadways, stop-signs, bridges, connectors and signals allow them to go, at rates of speed and at times the local laws and Gendarmerie permit. Hither and yon has unfortunately shrinking horizons due to the congestion caused by delusional free-will advocates motoring their disorganized and inefficient desires in some surreal anthropomorphic version of Brownian motion.

But that's OK. All those collectivist progressives you denigrate and fear will be sipping their lattes at their higher-paid jobs in the tech center 100 miles down the rail while you rugged individualists are proudly inhaling freedom's pure CO and NOx in your own idling automobiles at the gridlocked intersection 3 miles from home...

Why High Speed Rail

My reason for wanting high speed rail is so I don't get. stuck on an airplane with George Will.

If George Will Had Lived in the Nineteenth Century

there is no doubt that he would have backed railroad construction - and the subsidies that Republican administrations were giving to the railroads. Were Americans less individualistic in the nineteenth century than they are now?

Why isn't he also opposing air travel? Isn't that also collectivist? If people have to go from New York to Los Angeles, they should drive, like good individualists.

Charles Siegel

His microscopic grain of ragged sand...

George Will did get right his statement, "progressives embrace high-speed rail to improve the climate, increase competitiveness, enhance national security, reduce congestion, and rationalize land use."

True to rightwing rhetorical form, he follows that truth with the false statement, "this list of 'flimsy' reasons points to the progressive goal of diminishing individualism to make Americans more amenable to collectivism." The reasons are NOT flimsy, nor are they a conspiracy to deprive Americans of their individualism.

The standard of living advancement brought by technological development prior to the Great Depression were further advanced with dirt cheap WPA works programs, union organization rights and social security programs. Would that depression be now considered "Great" if progress had not continued?

Future generations could similarly consider today's recession "Great" if the technological advancements of our era are further advanced by paying no more heed to the opinions of columnists like George Will than were paid to his cohorts who opposed Great Depression public works and social programs.

It is more likely that the river of time will wear George Will's opinion to a microscopic, though still ragged grain of sand in the stream of history.

Personally, I favor non-electrified Talgo-type HSR systems and the electricity directed to light rail and streetcar lines to address our much worse inner-city traffic congestion instead of intra-city traffic and air travel problems.

Before George Will was against High-Speed Rail, he was for it

Before George Will was against High-Speed Rail, he was for it

from Grist magazine
Sarah Goodyear's column

Because apparently, that wasn't always his opinion.

In the dark days immediately after 9/11, Will seems to have had a revelation about how a certain mode of transportation could help our nation be stronger and more secure. In an Oct. 1, 2001 column syndicated in the Jewish World Review, Will recommended three steps in response to the attack that the nation had just sustained. First, buy more B-2 bombers. Second, cut corporate taxes. And third? Let Will speak for himself (emphasis mine):

Third, build high-speed rail service.

Two months ago this columnist wrote: "A government study concludes that for trips of 500 miles or less -- a majority of flights; 40 percent are of 300 miles or less -- automotive travel is as fast or faster than air travel, door to door. Columnist Robert Kuttner sensibly says that fact strengthens the case for high-speed trains. If such trains replaced air shuttles in the Boston-New York-Washington corridor, Kuttner says that would free about 60 takeoff and landing slots per hour."

Thinning air traffic in the Boston-New York-Washington air corridor has acquired new urgency. Read Malcolm Gladwell's New Yorker essay on the deadly dialectic between the technological advances in making air travel safer and the adaptations to these advances by terrorists.

"Airport-security measures," writes Gladwell, "have simply chased out the amateurs and left the clever and the audacious." This is why, although the number of terrorist attacks has been falling for many years, fatalities from hijackings and bombings have increased. As an Israeli terrorism expert says, "the history of attacks on commercial aviation reveals that new terrorist methods of attack have virtually never been foreseen by security authorities."

The lesson to be learned is not defeatism. Security improvements can steadily complicate terrorists' tasks and increase the likelihood of defeating them on the ground. However, shifting more travelers away from the busiest airports to trains would reduce the number of flights that have to be protected and the number of sensitive judgments that have to be made, on the spot, quickly, about individual travelers. Congress should not adjourn without funding the nine-state Midwest Regional Rail Initiative."

building block set

NEW! Build the world you want to see

Irresistible block set for adults when placed on a coffee table or desk, and great fun for kids.
Red necktie with map of Boston

For dads and grads: tie one on to celebrate your city!

Choose from over 20 styles imprinted with detailed city or transit maps.
Book cover of Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Featuring thought-provoking commentary and insights from some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the field.

City Coasters

Hand-drawn engraved maps of your favorite neighborhoods are divided up across 4 coasters making each one unique.