Big Ideas aren't going to get done with the kind of thinking that exists in our legislative branch today. And they won't get done with the kind of thinking that is scheduled to exist tomorrow.
Political momentum says that Congress will continue to think along the lines of "no new Passenger Rail lines unless states or local governments put in the money." That's not going to work, and that is no longer a Big Idea. It was a good way to keep Amtrak moving when states were flush with cash, but that's not going to happen for the foreseeable future. Call it momentum or call it a head in the sand. Call it what you will, our newest congressmen and senators, as well as the re-elected ones, are going to have to stop thinking like we are going back to a Clintonian White House. The economy is already dictating that the rest of this decade is going to be very different from the 1990s.
As much as Radical Environmentalism - as a movement - is against the free market, neither will it want to see us slide back into a transportation policy where the only way to get somewhere is by passsenger auto or jet-fuel guzzling airlines. And the auto fleet will be aging - therefore less environmentally friendly - if none of us can afford to buy a new one.
As I have said before on this blog, our transportation policies must be coordinated and include a higher proportion of funding for Passenger Rail. This must also occur with any economic stimulus plans. Mr. Obama, please listen: If we are going to put people to work ala 1930s style WPA, it must be on building and repairing rail infrastructure as well as other kinds, and maybe even on building railcars, streetcars, and locomotives, too. (GM should not have sold Electro Motive is a topic for another day.)
Thank you all for your very astute comments and emails on my Big Ideas title. Now please write to your politicians - all of them - from the local know-nothings on up.
© 2008 - C. A. Turek - email@example.com