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Merry Christmas to any Christian readers. Happy Chanuka for the Jews. Happy Kwanza, happy holidays, and merry festivus for everyone else.

I read the news today, oh boy. It looks like folks in state governments in the middle states want to use Obama’s stimulus plan to build more highways — just in time for plummeting gas prices. They argue that road projects are already started or ready to go, and plans for beefing up the rail system are too far in the future to get people working now!

Sounds like drill baby drill! And it is. The hype is motivated by our dear old attachment to individual transit and the automobile. I am sure that even after eight years of strangulation and abuse, Amtrak has a capital plan they would loooove to put into effect. The car maniacs say our country is less productive because we waste so much time in traffic jams, but as this review of Traffic by Tom Vanderbuilt reminds us, building new roads doesn’t alleve congestion, it just makes it worse. More importantly, as the MTA report on ridership during the 00’s points out, New York state’s investment in mass transit paid huge dividends in increased ridership and decreased car traffic.

I hope to high heaven Obama and his cabinet have the testicular fortitude to stand up to state governments and tell them the money has to be put to good use — building up our national rail system.

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