Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

LaHood gets after George Will

It was, at least, partially deserved. How on earth anybody could think that initiatives for livable communities are a threat to individual liberty must have something wrong upstairs, right?

But seriously folks, George Will is an honest-to-goodness intellectual, even if he is suspicious of bike riders and mass transit.Republicans have been under a lot of pressure lately and Will, especially in a recent Newsweek column, is not quite himself.

And long before climate change became another excuse for disparaging America’s “automobile culture,” many liberal intellectuals were bothered by the automobile. It subverted their agenda of expanding government—meaning their—supervision of other people’s lives. Drivers moving around where and when they please? Without government supervision? Depriving themselves and others of communitarian moments on mass transit? No good could come of this.

Being trapped in an automobile and paying $4 a gallon for gasoline (where it is already slowly drifting) is not freedom and its something many of us would cheerfully chose to do as little as possible. Mr. Will momentarily forgot the basis of a free market is the ability to  make choices.

George Will widely suggests those who support sensible transportation choices are “elitists.” Pretty brave words from an “inside the beltway” intellectual who may ride the METRO and enjoy a relatively short commute. As was observed here earlier reporting on a Witherspoon Institute study, the transportation policies of so-called conservatives tend to work against smaller neighborhood businesses and ordinary working families.

LaHood spoke at the National Press Club.

“We have to create opportunities for people who want to ride a bike or walk or take a streetcar,” he said. “The only person that I’ve heard of who objects to this is George Will.”

LaHood is wrong about that. Alas, plenty of politicians in rural areas will make much of LaHoods comments, and deliberately take him out of context. The comments above provide a fuller view of the entire speech.

In the world of transportation, it seems as if conservatives are not in favor of a fundamental freedom.

So Ray LaHood used a naughty word. Specfically he said,

“About everything we do around here is government intrusion into people’s lives,” he said. “It is a way to coerce people out of their cars. Yeah.”

So, let’s see. Big money says we must be slaves to truckers, oil companies, and Detroit. Big money says we must pay whatever Saudi Arabia and oil speculators decide for gas. Big money dictates unlimited highway construction at who knows what environmental and personal cost to American taxpayers. And none of that is coercion?

The hell it’s not coercion.


Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, Regional USA Passenger Rail, United States High Speed Rail

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May 2009