Tuesday :: Feb 2, 2010

How I’d Love to Take the Train


by paradox

Glenzilla recently professed to being mystified at a cheap low trick often flicked at provocative writers, the charge of being “angry.” If one obviated bedrock democracy principles like habeas corpus for nothing but ridiculous fear of course we should all be angry, but the primary thrust of the charge is to make the proponent of truth doubt their own motives and mental health.

You wake up every day, liberal (homosexual, feminist, whatever), look around you at the grand vistas of the greatest country the world has ever seen and yet only get hopping mad about it all the time? What kind of glass-half-empty weirdo are you? If you’re so negative about America when all it ever deserves is blind love and killing war, liberal, you really couldn’t be one of us real Americans, now could you?

It’s easily possible to be virulently disgusted at dysfunctional regressive American politics yet still be a happy person in life, serene in patriotism and good deeds performed every day. It won’t stop greedy authoritarian corporate racist thugs from trying to keep liberals quiet with any kind of weenie trick they can find, but that’s just the America we live in.

The President comically ran circles around our ridiculously chumpish opposition Republicans (only five months ago they were given up for dead, remember?), Ezra Klein has pronounced the end of the Democratic world as we know if healthcare isn’t passed, the Sunnis are making trouble in Iraq again, but for just one more day I want to stay focused on an aspect of the President’s State of the Union speech of last week, one more element deserves serious attention.

Yet another missing American societal element, anyway: what as a people are we looking forward to? The end of wars (don’t I wish), the lowering of deficits? Notable goals, but even political geeks like me aren’t really moved by it. I mean what are we reaching for on a physical plane that previous generations on the country’s watch could only dream about? Are we going to Mars, replacing all our elementary schools, or as part of converting to clean electricity building macro and micro rail networks?

I watched the speech and have listened to all the swirl of commentary ever since, there’s just nothing that beams out hope for the future, not in a clean exciting progressive way, all of our goals seem to be at stopping or fixing something. All peoples need something fun and good to look forward to, being able to see a doctor when you’re sick doesn’t exactly cut it.

One of the greatest mysteries I still hold for the United States is the absence of commuter rail trains, it’s just incredible but driving around California one often sees Amtrak buses with glum passengers, one has to take a bus to get connected to trains, what a fucking infrastructural embarrassment, you know? 98% of rail industry profits come from freight, how is it possible there is no viable commuter rail industry in America? Where did that market go, some far far faraway galaxy of economics I don’t know about?

Many communities, the mighty San Jose included, are trying to implement “light rail” systems, they seem awfully heavy to me and sadly removed from the real light rail option still employed all over the world with vast success, narrow gauge trolleys. Hell, the gauge doesn’t even have to be narrow, how come we can’t have a trolley system to supplement the light rail?

I know, we’ve dipped our toe in the water with fledgling high speed rail investments in Florida and California, and many big cities have excellent subway rail systems. That isn’t anything close to the magical high speed system that could take one from New York to LA in eight hours in 100% clean and energy renewable trains without an atom of carbon dioxide, something we Americans could easily accomplish.

So easy, yet so impossible with spending freezes that so offensively exclude the Department of Defense, just too hard with a useless killing war to wage, fat too difficult with too much political capital spent on locking up innocent folks with no charges. We get it.

Dream and hope and yearn we still will, of course. I’m angry at what’s happened to the United States, of course, but most of my time is spent hoping and daydreaming, a world of everyone getting healthcare, no wars, real blue skies everywhere from zero pollution, awesome trains and charming trolleys in every city. I’ll get angry every day for just the smallest chance of that for all of our people, god damn right.

paradox :: 6:07 AM :: Comments (6) :: Spotlight :: Digg It!