Friday, March 04, 2011

Choo Choo

I've always wondered why liberals have such a fascination with rail systems.

For years, I just thought it was some sort of homoerotic attraction to Alec Baldwin's narration of Thomas the Tank Engine.

But apparently, there's something more nefarious than that.

George Will on the "progressive" love affair with rail systems..........

Randal O’Toole of the Cato Institute notes that high-speed rail connects big-city downtowns, where only 7 percent of Americans work and 1 percent live. “The average intercity auto trip today uses less energy per passenger mile than the average Amtrak train.” And high speed will not displace enough cars to measurably reduce congestion. The Washington Post says China’s fast trains are priced beyond ordinary workers’ budgets, and that France, like Japan, has only one profitable line.

So why is America’s “win the future” administration so fixated on railroads, a technology that was the future two centuries ago? Because progressivism’s aim is the modification of (other people’s) behavior.

Forever seeking Archimedean levers for prying the world in directions they prefer, progressives say they embrace high-speed rail for many reasons—to improve the climate, increase competitiveness, enhance national security, reduce congestion, and rationalize land use. The length of the list of reasons, and the flimsiness of each, points to this conclusion: 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. Automobiles go hither and yon, wherever and whenever the driver desires, without timetables. Automobiles encourage people to think they—unsupervised, untutored, and unscripted—are masters of their fates. The automobile encourages people in delusions of adequacy, which make them resistant to government by experts who know what choices people should make.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's an interesting take. I also think it's interesting that progressives seem to be the one's to want to go back in time. 50's unions, 40's train systems, 30's economic models.

Their fascination with trains comes from the fact that most major dem party leaders are urbanites. The train is awesome if yo want to get around in Chicago or New York so they just assume thats how the whole country should travel.