Dave Gorak's picture

Published:  

  by  Dave Gorak

Wisconsin appears to be on the verge of joining 17 other states that allow motorists to drive on highway shoulders in order to reduce congestion during peak travel times.

This "solution" reminds me of the story about the guy who came home to discover that he left the water running in a sink and attacks the problem with a mop and bucket instead of shutting off the water, in this case the "water" being population growth that is 88 percent fueled by immigration.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) says shoulder driving on the Madison Beltway would "alleviate" traffic congestion for about 10 years, "during which time long-term improvements would be evaluated."

Because the subject of immigration is finally receiving the kind of coverage it has long deserved, I hoped the State Journal would be able to "connect the dots." I submitted a letter-to-the editor to the State Journal noting that any meaningful long-term solution to this problem must include stabilizing the nation's population growth. Included in my letter were quotes from the late Al Bartlett, who was professor emeritus of physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder and, of course, Wisconsin favorite son and Earth Day founder, Gaylord Nelson. Both men shared concerns about population growth and its impact on the environment and quality of life.

Unfortunately, the newspaper, which to be fair has been generous in printing the majority of my immigration letters since we moved here more than a dozen years ago, chose not to print my comments.

The only reader response to this story the State Journal ran came from Madison resident Jeffrey Schimpff who bicycles to work. Calling the DOT proposal "ill-advised," Schimpff suggests a return to the concept of "ride sharing" that dates back to World War II and again became somewhat popular during the 1970s energy crisis. Ride-sharing made sense in both situations, but what has it ever done to offset explosive population growth?

Mr. Schimpff wrote, "We should focus on moving more people than moving more vehicles that are typically carrying single occupants."

Well, swell.

As I see it, there's just one problem with the ride-sharing idea: How do we avoid having "more vehicles" if Pew is correct in projecting that our population will increase by one-third to 441 million people by 2065? Does Mr. Schimpff think we're going to easily cram an additional 112 million people into the number of cars now on the road? Are we to believe that people leaving their impoverished and often violent home countries in order to grab a piece of what's left of the American Dream will acquiesce to restrictions some say are necessary in order to offset the damage done to our society by our ever-increasing numbers?

In its annual tribute to people whose letters were published during the past year, the State Journal encouraged readers to write letters to the editor because among other things, they "might just change some very influential minds about which direction your community, state or nation should go."

If Mr. Schimpff's letter is any indication, it's apparent the State Journal and most of Wisconsin's political leaders aren't going anywhere in terms of realistically addressing Madison's traffic nightmare.

Finally, of all Gaylord Nelson's comments relative to protecting our environment, I find this one the most revealing:

"On environmental issues, our intelligence is reliable. Our scientists have the facts, if we only will listen. It is a slam dunk that we cannot continue on our present course. But without presidential and congressional leadership, even an enlightened public cannot cope with the greatest challenge of our time."

Our present immigration crisis says much about the kind of "presidential and congressional leadership" we've had in recent decades, and the public is far from being enlightened thanks to the many journalists who avoid critical thinking with the same intensity Count Dracula shuns the sunlight.

DAVE GORAK is a retired Chicago journalist and current executive director of the Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration

Tags:  
sustainability

Updated: Tue, Jan 8th 2019 @ 12:12pm EST

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