To the Editor,
Under News Bites in your Reader Hot Type [December 23] you mentioned the closing of the Milwaukee to Chicago Amtrak run as "irresponsible lunacy." That just goes to show us how decisions are made in a Democracy.
I took a course at Oxford University in England last year, and the professor, an Oxford Don, made mention of America's choice of the automobile as the mode of transportation. I was forced to interrupt him and inform the class that the decision was not made by the public at all. In the thirties and forties the Big Three auto companies, the Big Three tire companies and the big oil companies successfully schemed to buy up more than 100 electric systems in over 45 major U.S. cities, thereby dooming public transportation.
The decision was made by a special interest, the auto industry, which with the oil industry and the defense industry are STILL running this Democracy. (Defense? Well we're still making those long obsolete B-2 bombers and another HUGE aircraft carrier, whose ONLY mission will be to defend itself.) Our Democratic President now wants to INCREASE defense spending!
Will Americans stop driving to work and take public transportation?
Probably not. They're too spoiled by the automobile. For the past thirty years the annual model change, the unprovable superlative in advertising and the standard room-temperature IQ of the public makes the automobile too dear to give up. Does anyone notice that they're getting bigger again? The AVERAGE price of a car is now $20,000. (It was $3,000 in 1981.)
Yeah, Detroit won and the public lost. Democracy lost, too. And the Japanese and German multinationals are jumping right on the bandwagon.
David B. Zoellner
PS: Trains are doing just fine in Western Europe and Japan.