If you thought the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal couldn't possibly become any more backward or retrograde, the good news is, you're right! Today, the editors of the only newspaper opinion section to occasionally defeat Fox News in terms of sheer mendacity finally turned the corner and found a reason to break with the Tea Party notion that government should just go away already, so the country can turn into Somalia or Pakistan as quickly as possible.
The surprisingly powerful op-ed, written by Ed Rendell (Democrat, former governor of Pennsylvania) and Scott Smith (Republican mayor of Mesa, Ariz.), advances the notion that transportation is the one thing our government should be spending money on, even in this economic climate.
During this time of economic uncertainty and record federal deficits, many question why America should invest aggressively in infrastructure. The answer is simple: Whether it involves highways, railways, ports, aviation or any other sector, infrastructure is an economic driver that is essential for the long-term creation of quality American jobs.
And while they don't come right out and say it, the authors are clearly not big fans of our car-centric, highway-happy federal transportation policies.
When it comes to transportation, Washington has been on autopilot for the last half-century. Instead of tackling the hard choices facing our nation and embracing innovations, federal transportation policy still largely adheres to an agenda set by President Eisenhower.
Just a reminder: Eisenhower launched the interstate highway system.
As a result, American citizens and businesses are wasting time, money and fuel. According to the Texas Transportation Institute, in 2009 Americans wasted 4.8 billion hours sitting in traffic at a cost of $115 billion and 3.9 billion wasted gallons of gas. Meanwhile, nations around the world are investing in cutting-edge infrastructure to make their transportation networks more efficient, more sustainable and more competitive than ours. These investments have put them on a cycle of economic growth that will improve their standard of living and improve their citizens' quality of life.
What could possibly make our transport networks more efficient and sustainable? Walkable cities? Gasoline taxes? High-speed rail?! Treason!
To hear this kind of talk in the pages of the Wall Street Journal means either their entire editorial board had simultaneous heart attacks, or the formerly pinko notion that we should spend money on something other than militarized SUVs to get from point A to point B over cratered and decaying streets is now rather mainstream.