NPR Topics: U.S.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A letter to the editor of ''The Tech''

I found this piece in The Tech,   MIT's student newspaper.   I could not take quietly the cheap shot at the end of the article  and I  sent this message to the editor.

I have a few comments about the piece Derail the High Speed Rail

I think  that the analysis in this piece  would have been much more illuminating if the author  included  some statistics about how much   the truly high speed rails (in  France, Germany and Japan)  do reduce the congestion.
Only then one could begin to understand  whether these investments make sense or not. Compared to the French TGV at 200mph +  our high speed rail looks like an over caffeinated    nag.   The author  has a broad analysis of costs,  but only  a skinny one on the benefits.    I assume that the construction of the Subway System  was not cheap, but I believe it does reduce the congestion. It is difficult to imagine how  New York, or Boston or Chicago would  function without these systems.

The author   argues that   the liberals obsession with the rail  `` it is rooted in an affection for authoritarianism and collectivism, a latent hatred for the go-anywhere-leave-anytime freedom that automobile owners enjoy''.

I find this to be  a  cheap shot  that does not fit the tone of the rest of the paper.  I would remind the author that the ``the go-anywhere-leave-anytime freedom that automobile owners enjoys ''   is based on  another massive governmental  investment,   the Eisenhower  Highway System. As we well know, this  idea of highway system  is of a dictatorial extraction (yes, it is Hitler and his autobahns).  Just because Hitler had this idea, does not make it a bad one. Also,   just like our  High Speed  Rail, our highway system is only a  poor imitation of the   German autobahn.   I guess that the Germans may have taken to heart the words of Oliver Wendel Holmes: taxes are the price we pay for civilization.  

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