Bullet train as tourist shuttle: defeated initiative
Regarding your Oct. 27 editorial "All Aboard High-Speed Rail" about Florida's proposed high-speed rail system: When the initiative passed in 2000, I voted for it, not thinking about the project's financial impact on the state government. I love looking at those bullet trains in Europe and Japan and wish we could have one here in Florida, where I've been a resident for 30 years. But four years of wrangling over a proposed Disney stop on the Orlando-Tampa rail line has been discouraging. I am opposed to this stop at Disney, which amounts to using public funds to benefit a private corporation - the Walt Disney Company.
This transportation rail line is supposed to be for the purpose of transporting people around Florida, but those involved in the development of the line can't get beyond the conveyance of tourists in the central Florida area - what's the use of a high-speed rail line if there are going to be stops in it every 15 miles? Given all this, I am very grateful to Gov. Jeb Bush's lead in getting this reevaluation of the project on our ballot.
Florida's high-speed rail initiative was proven to be very popular by the overwhelming passage of an amendment to the state constitution in 2000. However, the state government repeatedly resisted this directive, even putting a proposal to repeal the amendment on the 2004 ballot. Incredibly, this has passed, too! Did the voters suddenly change their mind? I believe they were fooled with a clever game of misdirection and confusing language on the ballot.
To maintain the amendment in favor of the trains, a voter had to vote "no" to the repeal on Nov. 2. This was not an obvious selection unless a voter was well informed or carefully read the ballot. Even your editorial made a misleading comment, urging Floridians to "vote 'yes' for the trains." I have spoken with many Florida citizens who marked "yes" and mistakenly thought they were supporting the original amendment.
The Oct. 28 article "Snazzier houses bring energy crisis home to middle class" is emblematic of the current American trend towards gigantism. Soccer moms buy vehicles capable of hauling 80,000 pounds of pulp wood through mud because they might need to - someday - and then they curse the price at the pump. A couple builds a house large enough to contain the Rhode Island Republican convention, only to find the only place that is comfortable is the human-scale kitchen. A business exec buys a jet-powered pleasure boat with the fuel efficiency of an F-16 to impress his colleagues, then discovers that not only have his cronies just purchased a larger one, he doesn't have time to use it anyway.
It would be easy to sniff at the folly of it all and suggest that all these needs might have been more easily and better met with a Corolla, a two-bedroom cottage, and a kayak if it weren't for the environmental and economic consequences of supersizing of our lifestyle. Perhaps it is time to revisit the old notion of less is more.
Regarding the Oct. 20 article: "Wider openings for Boy Scouts": As an Eagle Scout, I fully support the federal government in allowing the scouting program to have access to public schools. With all the problems in the world today, there should be a greater push toward providing wholesome alternatives to today's hectic and unnerving school and social norms. Why persecute a program that harbors high moral standards and good will toward mankind?
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