I'll be drawing a cartoon later this week on Wisconsin Gov. elect Scott Walker and the high speed train he wants to stop. I was working on some ideas and doing some research when I came across this letter that Walker wrote to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, asking to use the money for highway infrastructure. This paragraph stood out:
"More than 60 years ago, the federal government had the foresight to recognize that the American people no longer wanted to be limited by fixed-track passenger rail. The massive investment in our federal interstate highway system spurred the greatest economic expansion in our nation's history. For us to now to go backwards on transportation makes little sense. I believe that continuing responsible investments in our road infrastructure is a key to growing our economy and creating jobs."
I found this an illuminating window into the backwards-thinking of our next governor. First, it is ironic that Walker brings up the highway investments of the 1950s. That was a bold plan to improve the way we moved people and goods across this nation. Today's bold plan needs to involve modern rail technology. Fixing a couple of bridges, and adding some lanes to some highways is not bold.
Furthermore, Walker credits the highway infrastructure project with spurring the greatest economic expansion in our nation's history during the 1950s and 1960s. (I'm sure some economist might argue that rapid mechanization, and the fact that every other industrialized nation was literally destroyed during World War II played roles in this economic growth, but I digress.) He goes on to imply that expanding roads today will lead to the same growth in the economy. Again, Walker seems way off base. We can't fix today's economic problems with solutions from the 1950s.
But what scares me the most about Walker's letter is that it ignores the fact that highway infrastructure is dependant on a commodity that we have little control over, oil. Walker's rosy dream of a future built on roads and automobiles, assumes that we will have the cheap fuel available to power this world.
Walker, you need to re-evaluate your American dream, because it won't work when gas hits 5 bucks a gallon.