Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of March 8, 2010

Readers write in about high-speed rail, illegal aliens, and guest workers.

A big thank-you for your article "High-speed rail: How far will $8 billion go?" and your editorial titled "All aboard for speedy trains."

It is important for the general public to be aware of the importance of the expansion of high-speed rail and, in fact, about the needs of all types of rail transportation for all of America.

During these tough financial times and into the future, monies need to be available to maintain and expand the existing rail systems, which are being used at record levels.

Francis W. Warren

Member of The National Association of Railroad Passengers,

Arizona

The idea of high-speed trains between metropolitan centers is a good one, but without a car, what does one do after stepping off the train at the destination? Here in Wisconsin, which is a proposed location for a "bullet train" between our largest city, Milwaukee, and our capital, Madison, even as the idea is finally becoming a possibility, bus service in Milwaukee is being cut back because of lack of ridership and budgetary considerations.

In the days of high rail ridership, industrial and business destinations were clustered in a relatively small geographical area within a city and riders often walked from the train station to their ultimate destination. Now the business and commercial enterprises are more likely to be spread out in the suburbs and farther away from the city centers and train stations.

John G. Byrne

Milwaukee

At a time when state and federal budget deficits threaten the jobs of hundreds of thousands of existing employees, President Obama plans to spend billions on high-speed rail to expand its reach. But as the map in your article shows, $8 billion will not give Americans the comprehensive national transportation grid to rival President Eisenhower's Interstate Highway System – not even close! But even better systems for moving people, made here in the United States, are poised to leave bullet trains in their dust. Case in point: Unimodal Systems, Inc. of Westlake Village, Calif.

Critics correctly cite that the newer technologies are experimental, compared with the decades of proven safe service by high-speed rail. But the scalability of the newer technology means that smaller pilot projects, once proven, could be expanded into state-wide or regional networks in a relatively short period of time.

Unless the advanced, 21st-century transportation technologies are given a chance to compete, Americans will soon realize that they spent way too much money on older, inferior systems that crowded out innovation.

Rob Guthrie

Office of Renewable Energy and Environmental Exports,

Long Beach, Calif.

Love or hate illegal aliens?

Regarding the editorial, “Guest workers at a time like this?”: Our nation has a love/hate relationship with immigration.

We pride ourselves in being a nation of immigrants until periodic economic downturns occur, and then we reverse course and look to blame immigrants for stealing American jobs.

Those guest workers you are so quick to dismiss include foreign-born professionals, such as engineers who also lost their legal employment in this economic downturn.

They worked in the office down the hall from you, and fueled the economic growth of this nation before greedy financiers (more politically palatable US citizens, no doubt) brought this nation to its economic knees.

Does anyone consider the positive economic effect on depleted government coffers by taxes and Social Security payments being made if the undocumented were mainstreamed?

We do have to control our borders and protect our workforce, but that does not mean we have to stop thinking and resort to labels as a substitute for informed analysis.
Craig T. Trebilcock
Glen Rock, Pa.

Afghans need jobs

In response to the opinion piece, “What Afghanistan needs most: job creation”:

Research shows rising prosperity strongly correlates to a decrease in violent deaths. US experience as highlighted in Mark Trumbull’s “The Innovation Economy,” also shows that entrepreneurial activity drives the economic growth leading to this prosperity.

Entrepreneurs find sensible answers within the constructs of their local economies and populations, produce needed goods and services, and provide jobs in doing so, thus creating stability and prospects for prosperity.

Many service members with experience in Iraq and/or Afghanistan can attest to the power of fledgling businesses in stabilizing local economies over there.

In addition to the fundamental needs of basic security and rule of law, Afghan entrepreneurs need basic enablers such as infrastructure and a legal foundation for contract enforcement.

They also need our patience. An Afghan solution might not look like our American one.
We should remember that the entrepreneurial landscape of America’s early experiences does not resemble today’s.

Additionally, there must be access to credit. Small lines of credit in the thousands of dollars, extended to local entrepreneurs, will go much further than millions of dollars targeted at more centrally managed solutions.
Maj. Jesse Sjoberg
US Marine Corps student,
US Army Command and General Staff College
Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

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