Friday, March 11, 2011

Why does the right wing hate trains?

Why, indeed? An interesting question proffered by The Week.

Why is driving your vehicle such a good thing? Isn’t it better to not drive your vehicle. And why have we taken over the job of trucks and warehouses? That is, we used to have trucks to bring goods close to us. Now we buy mini trucks and drive out to far away stores and do their job of storing the things I will need later in my own house.

And why is it better to alertly drive so I can come home to read or watch video, instead of read and watch video the minute the journey begins?

Of course it’s nicer to drink and ride than drink less and drive.

And whenever people talk about the freedom of the open road, they always forget about traffic.

And to the person who says it’s easier to drop kids off at daycare, do errands and get to work, I say great. Would you like me off the road so you can do that faster?

I like how the article ends with "why liberals love trains." Not surprisingly, as a train lover, I've thought about this a bit.

I think it's not that liberals love trains as much as urbanites appreciate them (and urbanites are more liberal). Cars mess up our city and we need an alternative. A car society doesn't work, not with the density we have in New York.

But more sociologically, urbanites and liberals consider public interaction to be potentially good. Suburbanites and conservatives consider strangers a threat. I never choose a crowded subway car over an empty car (and actually make a bit of an effort to avoid busy subway cars... hell, I ride a bike), but interactions with strangers do keep life interesting.

I also like trains because they make me happy. Some people think cars are cool. Others say that about rocket ships. I like trains. Not a very good basis for policy decision, but they're a lot cheaper than manned space flight.

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