Americans and Brits Love their Cars, Oppose High Speed Rail

The key to winning the future in America, according to President Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, is High Speed Rail. According to the President, China is “cleaning our clock” when it comes to infrastructure. Why is this Administration wasting so much time trying to waste our money on something we do not want?

The existing rail systems in this country are heavily subsidized by all of us through gas taxes. The light rail lines in Portland, Phoenix and Charlotte are in deep debt, behind schedule in construction, and causing the local governments to raise sales taxes and cut back on bus service schedules and other vital services. The United States is not unique in this administration’s obsession with mass transportation. This report from The Telegraph establishes that the progressive agenda, in this case in the pursuit of high speed rail, is worldwide.

According to the report, “cars will be banned from London and all other cities across Europe under a draconian EU master plan to cut CO2 emissions by 60 per cent over the next 40 years.” It states further that “Siim Kallas, the EU transport commission, insisted that Brussels directives and new taxation of fuel would be used to force people out of their cars and onto “alternative” means of transport.”

It is apparent that the high speed rail mania our federal government has been relentlessly pursuing is not unique to the United States. An article dated February 28, 2011 in the UK Independent describes that “Transport Secretary Philip Hammond today launched a consultation on Government plans to “redraw” Britain’s economic map by building a 32 billion high-speed rail network.” The words used by Hammond are eerily familiar, as he states “We must invest in Britain’s future” and “We cannot afford to be left behind – investing in high speed rail now is vital to the prosperity of future generations.” These identical talking points were heard repeatedly from local officials in Tampa during the elections in November 2010.

The British lifestyle is quite similar to ours.

According to a study in 2009 by the RAC Foundation, “in the past 20 years a consistently high number of people, 80-90%, have said they would find it very difficult to adapt to not having a car”.

Having done extensive research on the issue of light rail in the Tampa Bay area and the high speed rail proposals here in Florida and in other states across the country, the conclusion has always been the same. Rail in any form is 19th century technology. It is inflexible and limits the ability of people to go where they want when they want. It costs too much and does too little.

We must ask ourselves why? Why are our government officials trying every trick in the book to get us all out of our cars and onto their trains? Is it to put the final nail in the coffin of the automobile industry?

The United States Department of Transportation, through the Federal Transit Administration, is promoting the development of livable and sustainable communities that are called “transit oriented developments” . According to their home page “TOD creates communities where people of all ages and incomes have access to transportation and housing choices by increasing location efficiency and allowing people to walk, bike and take transit for their daily trips. TOD is attractive to its residents because it fosters a convenient and affordable lifestyle where housing, jobs, restaurants, and entertainment are all in convenient proximity. In addition, TOD increases transit ridership and reduces automobile congestion, providing value for both the public and private sectors.”

Everyone must ask themselves if they are willing to give up the freedom of living where they choose and coming and going as they please. If the answer is no, perhaps it is time to let your representatives know that you are not going to allow the government to continue pursuing an agenda that is clearly against the will of the people. Let them know that they are wasting precious time on an issue that is going nowhere. They need to concentrate on the pressing issues of unemployment, imminent inflation, alarming budget deficits and out of control regulations that are stifling our economic growth.

In the words of Thomas Jefferson “I view great cities as pestilential to the morals, the health and the liberties of man. True, they nourish some of the elegant arts, but the useful ones can thrive elsewhere, and less perfection in the others – with more health, virtue and freedom – would be my choice.” The man was prescient!

The President is now floating the idea of our paying a tax based on the miles we drive. Aren’t we already paying that? The more we drive, the more we fill our tanks. We do not want to wait until the cost of owning a private vehicle becomes impossible. At that point we will have become dependent on the government for all of our transportation needs. If they did succeed in getting us out of our cars and we did consume less gas, there would be less revenue to subsidize the rail. Where would the money come from then for the pretty trains?

Should we care that China is “cleaning our clock?” Perhaps this is the best way they have to transport all of their “human capital” to their places of work. Perhaps the average Chinese cannot afford a personal vehicle. Perhaps they are just now entering the 19th century when it comes to transport.

The last time there was so much fuss about “mass transit” I believe it was during the Weimar Republic. That didn’t end well.

Below is a video of a panel discussion regarding the high speed rail proposal in England between Transport Secretary Philip Hammond and rail opponent Hilary Wharf.

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