Sent Wednesday, July 5, 2006 12:08 pm
Subject Ike's Baby
While your opinion pages this past Sunday fawned over "those gleaming ribbons of pavement [that] spawned giant industries and carried the middle class from tenements to home ownership" ("Ike's Baby") and Elizabeth Fitzsimons likewise waxed poetic about how "their daily rhythms define our own" and "by night their fluid ribbons of red and white lights can hypnotize us" ("An open road, a smaller world"), it would seem by such myopic accounts that this highway system and the freedoms it embodies just descended to us out of nowhere.
Sure, Fitzsimons acknowledges that "since the start of construction in 1956, the federal government has shouldered most of the $128.9 billion total cost." What she and your opinion writer fail to do is call such a program by its proper name: socialism. That's right, American taxpayers bought and paid for the interstate highway system, each giving up a tiny fraction of their own income to achieve what none could on their own: a greater good for all.
Free market fundamentalists and neocon foreign policy hawks, take note. Freedom usually comes with a price tag. The freedom that we are ostensibly promoting in Iraq right now -- ironic that we're only getting to it now given that some twenty-five years ago when he was gassing Kurds, Saddam Hussein was our ally -- has already cost this country more than double what we've spent on interstate highways in fifty years, and will likely be near triple that by the end of this fiscal year (to say nothing of the Iraq War's human costs). One can only imagine what the people of this country could accomplish if such sums were spent improving freedom and opportunity here at home.