Wednesday, October 6, 2010

injaynesworld we'd "Kick Our Caboose Into The Future..."


As a child, one of my favorite parts of decorating the Christmas tree was setting up our little electric train that would chug around on the floor beneath its branches, while listening to Johnny Cash’s well-worn Christmas album.     

Yes.  We did have electricity way back then!   Who said that?!

It had a whistle that would sound each time it circled the tree, which after a while would drive my mother nuts, but I was completely enchanted by it.  

I’ve always loved trains.   We lived right down the block from the train tracks and me and my friends used to love to run to the corner when we’d hear the approaching train whistle and wave to the commuters on their way to or from San Francisco.   They could have been flipping us off for all we knew, but we didn’t care.  We were just thrilled with any recognition from these mysterious strangers and we’d make up the most elaborate stories about their lives that we knew had to be so much more interesting than our own.   Americans have always been dreamers. 

So imagine my excitement when President Obama committed $8 billion in stimulus money to building high-speed rail service right here in the U.S.   A bullet train.   Don’t you just love the sound of that? 
 .

Of course, such a cool mode of transportation is nothing new.   Much of the rest of the industrialized world has had some form of high-speed rail service since the ‘80s.   Hell, even Mexico is planning a line.  The U.S. has been lagging behind on this track for too long and frankly people are starting to laugh.  

With the high cost of fuel, traffic and airport congestion, not to mention that awkward cavity search at security, who wouldn’t welcome this exciting new plan for America?   

Who?    Aw… You’re way ahead of me aren’t you?

Republican candidates running for governor in several states key to the high-speed rail project are suddenly putting on the brakes.   Take Scott Walker in Wisconsin who’s running an ad proudly stating, “If I’m your governor, we’ll stop this train!”   Add John Kasich (a former talk show host at Faux) of Ohio, Rick Scott in Florida and Meg Whitman in my own California and you’ve got  a bunch of backward-thinking killjoys who could keep America’s transportation system in the caboose forever.

I have to wonder what would have happened if we’d had these folks around in the fifties when then Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower committed $25 billion to the Federal-Aid Highway Act for the building of our nation’s interstate highway system.  Yes.  It was also a stimulus package – the largest public works project in history up to that time and it put thousands of people to work.

I liked Ike, as he was called.   Everyone I knew liked Ike.   But if it were up to today’s Republican Party, he’d have been vilified for such a notion and blocked at every attempt, and what kind of nation would we have now without an interstate highway system?   Which, by the way, is currently crumbling.   So we can spend billions trying to shore it up or we can reduce our fuel consumption and carbon emissions, create jobs and move the transport of people and goods into the 21st Century if we can just get the GOP to stop standing in the way of progress.

In my best  Ty Pennington voice I say, “Build that train!”

And I think Johnny Cash would agree with me. 


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