By | Saturday, July 26, 2008 Leave a Comment
I drove from Oakland to Los Angeles on Thursday. I couldn't help thinking what a supremely inefficient way it was to get my body from one place to another. As it happened, I needed a car in LA and I was planning on bringing a large box back with me, so it made more sense to drive than to fly. Economically, the price of driving was basically the same as flying. Adding in the cost of renting a car once in LA made driving a no-brainer. However, while in progress, the process feels ridiculous. Get in the car, turn on the iPod, put on the cruise control, and turn my brain off for the next six hours.

I don't know how interstate truckers do it. Driving endlessly, day after day. One "short" drive from the SF Bay to LA makes me nuts. Driving to and from Colorado (which I have done four times,) is absolutely painful. Doing this as a job would be the third ring of hell for me.

I passed a truck on the highway that had a bumper-sticker reading "Without trucks, America stops." Its true. The amount of stuff shipped by truck in this country is amazing. The number of cars and trucks on I-5 in California at any given time of day or night is absolutely staggering.

While driving I can easily turn the cruise control on, but I can't turn my brain off; I can't stop thinking. Driving on I-5 makes me think in particular about the tragedy of the war in Iraq. The cost in lives lost and ruined, the cost in dollars, the damage to the nation of Iraq, the damage to the reputation and economy of the United States. This war has truly been a crime against humanity.

I am sure that eight years ago we did not have an extra trillion dollars lying around to spend on anything. We didn't have a trillion dollars to spend on education, or health care, or infrastructure. Where did we find a trillion to spend on a war in Iraq?

Driving down a busy, car-filled I-5 at noon on a Thursday, I couldn't help thinking of what it would have been like had we spent a trillion dollars over the last eight years building the worlds greatest high-speed train system. Imagine if we had taken the brave men and women that we sent to Iraq, given them a trillion dollars, and said "build this nation a train system that will be the envy of the world."

Think of the jobs that would have been created! The economic impact of the people building the trains, manufacturing the rails and cars, feeding the workers, housing the workers, building the train stations, making clothes for the workers and the engineers, the uniforms for the wait staffs at the cafes in the train stations, the salaries of the people manufacturing the cups to hold the coffee sold at the train station cafes... And think of the value added to our nation for generations to come! A trillion dollar train system would have instantly reduced our dependence on oil, foreign or domestic.

Instead we have thousands of children cut down in the prime of their lives, a foreign nation in ruins, an insatiable desire for oil, and a planet full of people who hate us for it.
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