Don Loves Walking!
I am glad I have no car! I would not keep a car if you gave me one free! I have owned no car since 1979. I enjoy the freedom of having no car. I save much money and many resources—oil, metals, rubber ... I avoid all parking and traffic tickets. I have no hassles with car repairs, car theft, car crashes, flat tires, vandalism, monthly payments, depreciation, road rage, paying for insurance and finding a parking space. I walk most places I go in town. Our legs are great doctors. Much walking strengthens bones and heart, prevents diabetes, clears the mind, and stimulates blood circulation. Cars spoil people—making their bodies fat, lazy and sick.
Less than 10 percent of the world's people can afford to own cars. I imagine how much sicker our Earth would be if all people old enough on Earth drove cars like most Americans.
Almost one-third of United States energy and resources go into making and operating cars. Cars vomit poison—causing lung disease, cancer and messed up immune systems. I hate car crashes paralyzing, crippling and killing millions. I hate how cars isolate people from other people and from nature. I hate how highways, parking lots and garages smother millions of acres of fertile soil. Cars are a major cause of global climate change resulting in massive catastrophes.
Most Americans are addicted to driving their cars as much as their dollars and time allow. Most Americans are drunk on gasoline! Most Americans have no strong conscience about hogging the world's resources and poisoning the Earth for future generations. Most Americans regard this insane deadly addiction to driving cars as their absolute right far more important than freedom of speech and far more precious than the lives of homelands of Iraqis, Nigerians, Colombians, Ecuadorians, Afghans ... destroyed in the United States empire's mad pursuit of oil! The gas you buy is mixed with the blood and tears of multitudes exploited and murdered so spoiled Americans can drive their cars as many miles as they please. I had a driver's license for over 36 years, but I did not renew it when it expired in December 2000. I pledge never to own a car the rest of my life! I have ridden in no one's car since April 7, 2001—4 years! We borrow the earth from those who come after us. We can change our stupid, selfish ways. I love to walk!
Chuck Loves Amtrak!
My letter writing has been going on for several years, especially in light of the fact that the executive branch of our government wants to bankrupt Amtrak in the next fiscal year (October) by proposing zero dollars in the next budget. The reason I stopped writing to Alibi is, quite frankly, because I don't think there are a lot of liberal readers out there who really give a damn about Amtrak, or mass transportation, in general.
Sure, everybody's got their opinions on the subject but I can count on one hand the number of college students who I actually see on the bus every morning. And I seem to see even less when I climb aboard the train. By the same token, there doesn't seem to be enough parking spaces at the University to accommodate all the cars that students drive, no matter how many asphalt lots or concrete garages are constructed. Furthermore, the skyrocketing price of gasoline does not seem to have changed anybody's driving habits.
There is nothing better for the environment than mass transportation. A train consumes, per passenger, about the same amount of fuel that a motorcyclist uses in order to get from place to place. The new hybrid city buses are fuel efficient, fast and very comfortable. Yet, despite these facts, the ridership on both these means of transportation by college age students is pretty lamentable.
The people who want to save Amtrak, and the people who actually ride on Amtrak, are a diverse, bipartisan collection of concerned individuals who not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. And don't blame George W. Bush for what's going on: Norman Mineta, Secretary of Transportation, is a Democrat and one of Amtrak's most rabid critics.
For all the bad press that this paper gives Rep. Heather Wilson and the Republicans, it may be worthwhile to quote a paragraph she wrote to me on Feb. 16, "I do not support eliminating Amtrak or substantially reducing its scope," she said. "I support routes like the Southwest Chief Route and I have not heard of any plan to cancel this service. Of course, I would oppose such a move."
Also consider that it was Richard Nixon who created Amtrak back in 1970 and it's people like Republican Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas who are now leading the crusade to save Amtrak.
The next few months are going to decide whether America will continue to have a passenger rail system or not. Amtrak consumes only about one percent of the transportation budget and yet is able to deliver services to over 25 million people on a 30,000 mile network. Amtrak costs each taxpayer about five bucks a year, a figure dwarfed by the kind of money we shell out for our highways and airports. Amtrak provides transportation services to over 500 American cities for about the same amount of money as it costs to run the Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) in San Francisco. Furthermore, since 9-11, the few long haul trains that still exist are generally sold out.
Without Amtrak, the only way to get out of town will be by gas-guzzling plane or by automobile. You can't even count on Greyhound anymore. In the last year Greyhound has abandoned over 200 western cities (one in New Mexico) with many, many more cuts to come.
I quit traveling by plane over eight years ago and I still manage to make my way by rail to places like New York, Montreal, Miami and Vancouver. I hope I never have to set foot in a plane again.
I would encourage those who really care about the Middle East oil situation and the environment to consider traveling by Amtrak in the future because the best way you can show your support for our nation's passenger rail service is by climbing aboard.
Correction: In the Best of Burque Best Happy Hour category [April 7- April 13], the Spanish phrase in the first sentence should have read "panza llena, corazón contento."
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