I know why leftists love trains. Its just that I’ve never been quite sure how to put it into words. Today I came upon an excellent piece by George Will in Newsweek. (Newsweek??? Yeah I agree, it is indeed strange, but that is where it is.) George is actually rattling on about Obama’s crazy scheme to give “80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail.” “Access” and “high-speed” to be defined later.
If your interested in the economics of rail then its a good read, but also, in the closing paragraphs he has so succinctly put the view on ‘why leftists love trains’ in words I wish I had thought of myself.
So why is America’s “win the future” administration so fixated on railroads, a technology that was the future two centuries ago? Because progressivism’s aim is the modification of (other people’s) behavior.
Forever seeking Archimedean levers for prying the world in directions they prefer, progressives say they embrace high-speed rail for many reasons—to improve the climate, increase competitiveness, enhance national security, reduce congestion, and rationalize land use. The length of the list of reasons, and the flimsiness of each, points to this conclusion: the real reason for progressives’ passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.
To progressives, the best thing about railroads is that people riding them are not in automobiles, which are subversive of the deference on which progressivism depends. Automobiles go hither and yon, wherever and whenever the driver desires, without timetables. Automobiles encourage people to think they—unsupervised, untutored, and unscripted—are masters of their fates. The automobile encourages people in delusions of adequacy, which make them resistant to government by experts who know what choices people should make.
Time was, the progressive cry was “Workers of the world unite!” or “Power to the people!” Now it is less resonant: “All aboard!”
Ain’t that so good? Full article here.