March 25, 2007

Progress and fear

Did you see Peyton Manning on SNL last night? I thought he was pretty funny. To bad the show itself is just not real amusing any more.

The Governor of Indiana has announced he will scrap his plans to build a toll road bypass around Indianapolis. I am not sure if the idea was sound or not, but the opposition, hyperbole, and hysteria surrounding the planned road was astounding. How can someone be against a road where the course has not been determined? A letter to the editor in my local paper compared the road to a tornado, claiming it will be more destructive! People were convinced the road would go through their church, that the county would be cut in half, with no way across. Apparently, over and underpasses are not in the lexicon of these fools. I state again -- no path was determined, only a feasibility study! In 20 years, when the highways and interstates around Indy are choked with traffic, when the commute times double and triple, these same people will complain to the heavens about the need for better and more roads.

Reality proves without modern transportation infrastructure your community will struggle to find growth and success. This was true 150 years ago when people feared the railroad, to 50 years ago when similar fights were held regarding the Interstate system. Beyond the issue of taking land and using public money for roads, it is clear the cities and towns near the railroad and along the interstates are those blessed with manufacturing, with development, with growth. In the case of this highway, people from all over the state flocked to public meetings to speak out against the new road. How can a person that will not be affected by a road, a shopping center, a housing development be against it? This is a pure Luddite philosophy. Sadly, these same farmers and and growing elderly population will be complaining loudly about the shrinking tax base and rising property taxes. Wake up, Wal-Mart is here, and it will be replaced by someone with a better business model. Woolworth was the 'Wal-Mart" of the last century, and who knows what economic changes we will see in the future. This I know --the stores downtown on the public square, the mom and pop grocery are never coming back. The ideal life you remember does not exist any longer, if it ever did. Progress can not be stopped, only diverted elsewhere. What truly scares me is the number of people who think that is a good thing.

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