Debt Is Why Our Trains Are Broken
- NEW YORK CITY – America is falling apart. Anyone
who travels in this great land knows it.
city is crumbling. I’m scared to take the underwater
tunnels to Long Island or New Jersey. Our local
airport, LaGuardia, should be in Zimbabwe.
American Society of Civil Engineers warns that
crumbling roads, rusting bridges, decaying railroads
and transit systems are costing the nation $129
billion each year, and that crumbling infrastructure
adds $97 billion annually and caused travel delays
of $28 billion annually.
this scandalous issue because Switzerland, a tiny
nation of only 8.2 million, just opened the
remarkable Gothard Base Tunnel, the world’s longest
and deepest rail and road tunnel drilled right
through the highest Alps.
I was in
Switzerland in 1996 when the 151.8 km (94.3 mile)
long tunnel project was begun, and I just watched
its grand opening this week on TV. The project came
in a year ahead of schedule and under budget at
$10.1 billion. The Swiss are as skilled at watching
their pennies as drilling through granite mountains.
Rock amounting to 5 Giza pyramids was excavated.
Gothard Tunnel (there are two older, narrower ones)
cuts almost an hour off the travel time from Zurich
to Milan. More important, it will alleviate the
frightful congestion and pollution from cars and
heavy transport trucks in the narrow Alpine valleys.
It creates a direct rail link from Rotterdam in the
north to Genoa on the Mediterranean. One day soon,
China’s fast-expanding high speed rail network, aka
‘the new Silk Road,’ will tied in to the Alpine
250 trains will whizz under the Alps. High above the
new tunnel are groups of 20th-century Swiss forts
whose cannon and machine guns cover the land route
over the strategic pass. I’ve inspected the largest
at Goschenen, whose 155mm cannon can reach well into
Italy. But the Swiss now seem to prefer more trade
than old forms of security.
Switzerland’s excellent roads, beautiful bridges or
viaducts, punctual to-the-second trains, the US
looks – and perhaps is – a third world nation.
Swiss, French, and German trains travel at 230-300km
an hour, offering fast, clean, safe, civilized
travel (at least when France’s rail workers are not
on strike). I just took a French TGV express train
from Lorraine on the German border direct to Charles
De Gaulle airport in about one hour – what it takes
to get from Manhattan to New York’s Kennedy Airport
vast highway system was built during the golden era
of President Dwight Eisenhower. Today, America’s
infrastructure is backwards, primitive, and
humiliating for the self-proclaimed ‘greatest
country on earth.’
this? Because Americans and their government in
Washington has chosen imperialism over taking care
US crumbles, it pours billions upon billions into
foreign military misadventures. The foolish war in
Afghanistan will soon hit $1 trillion. Iraq is on
the way to a second trillion. Washington is running
little wars in East Africa, Yemen, now West Africa,
Pakistan, and the Mideast, while gearing up for
possible conflicts with Russia and China.
small, weak Muslim nations may be glamorous and
career-enhancing. – and certainly the objective of
the neocon fifth column. Fixing sewers, dams and
bridges is not – and does not make billions for arms
full of empires that ignored their own
infrastructure and social well-being in favor of
pursuing military glory abroad. All are on the
trash-heap of history. America is headed that way,
addicted to debt and war. We spend close to $1
trillion annually on the military and nuclear
forces. This sum is not for ‘defense,’ but for
offense around the globe.
we have no funds to replaced New York’s 1900-vintage
water conduits and sewers, or build desperately
needed new bridges across the Hudson and East River.
That’s because the funds are going to bomb Afghan
tribesmen, Iraqi rebels and prop up vile regimes
like those of Uzbekistan, Uganda, Azerbaijan, Saudi
Arabia and Egypt.
don’t waste a centime on stupid foreign wars. That’s
why their beautiful nation works as efficiently as a
Margolis is an award-winning, internationally
syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in
the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune
the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf
Times, the Khaleej Times, Nation – Pakistan,
Hurriyet, – Turkey, Sun Times Malaysia and other
news sites in Asia.