When my oldest child was a toddler the only thing he liked to do was play with trains. We lived outside of Boston at the time, near Walden Pond, and on the weekends Damon and I would take Jacob there to see the local commuter train pass. Jacob loved this. We would walk half-way around the lake, then pause next to a chain link fence and wait. Even in the Massachusetts winter, when the pond was frozen over, we went. Suddenly the rumbling purple train would come roaring down the track and Jacob would squeal with delight.

As soon as it was no longer visible, our two-year-old would beg, “‘Again, Daddy? Again?” 

This fascination with trains has skidded to a stop in the Land of the Free. The recent budget amendments slashed funding for high-speed rail projects. Several governors canceled already-funded high-speed rail plans in their states. Who, might I ask, would not benefit from another mode of fast and fuel-efficient transportation?

Today, Steven Harrod wrote an excellent article about the emotional argument against trains which currently storm our airwaves http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/04/21/harrod.high.speed.rail.trains/index.html?hpt=T2.  He states that most people are morally opposed to a perceived loss of individual freedom. Trains must be centrally regulated. They remove our reliance on the automobile. They receive funding from the government.

Yet just today, it was made known that Apple can track all of your whereabouts through your iPhone. Your employer can enable software that monitors your every keystroke and your every move. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/apr/20/iphone-tracking-prompts-privacy-fear . Every time you go into a bank or get gas, you are being recorded. If you truly want individual freedom in our high-tech society, you need to live off the grid. You must not drive a legally registered car, or house your money in a bank where it is protected by law, or send your children to a public school.  You must eschew society. And private businesses, too. Because the truth is, corporations today are just as likely to infringe upon your individual ‘freedoms’ as our government.

To operate under the notion that you are free to participate in society but at the same time argue against society’s ability to progress and grow more efficient, or allow new structure or rules to be put into place for everyone’s benefit, is ludicrous. If you want to live without a hint of ‘socialist’ interference, go live in Afghanistan. Without a phone. Or GPS. Or a functional government.

In the meantime, let us build a high-speed rail system across this country. We need it. No one ever taught my son Jacob that trains were ‘bad’ or ‘good’. He just instinctively liked them. And so do I.