A view of life and commercial real estate from Newark and Licking County, Ohio
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
We had this problem licked more than a century ago, when the overwhelming majority never went anywhere except on foot, and those with a need to travel grand distances could take the railway — which, incidentally, had baggage cars. Taking this Province for my example, and my wanderings through it for my research, I am constantly impressed to discover evidence of how well it was served by the railroads, back when it had a fraction of its present population, and incomes were much lower. One could get from almost any little place to almost any other along them.
The obliteration of our railroads did not happen by chance. Starting with Roosevelt, on this side of the Atlantic, and Hitler, on the other side, a grand concerted effort was made to promote the automotive and paving industries, and build autobahns, specifically at the expense of rail. Cars had already become too numerous by the 1920s, but the idea of what Trump and I might call “biglification” — the totalitarian impulse — was to choke the planet with “people’s” cars, trucks, and buses. It became the one big economic pseudo vision, as the Depression wore on. What had been fairly useful vehicles — very local extensions from the train stations — became the most awkward and wasteful mass-transport system imaginable. The intention of the captains and politicians of industry was, from the beginning, to compel everyone to buy and drive these voracious machines, and become permanently indebted thereby.