Sunday, May 3, 2009

Train Travel Offers A Look at Another America

I recently retuned home after a two-week trip to the mainland and, as usual, it included several overnight train rides.

I’ve mentioned this before, but traveling around the country by train offers some wonderful insights into the real America. We may still be “the greatest nation on earth,” but you have to be completely insensitive not to come away from a cross country train trip without realizing that there are a helluva lot of poor people in this country.

Granted, Amtrak trains don’t roll through the wealthy suburbs, but you do see that millions of people are living in marginal conditions … or worse.

In big cities, people are crammed into tenements, many run-down and in need of repair. (These, just outside of Chicago, are newer and a lot better than most.)

You see lots of manufactured homes, set up in tight rows and crowded together in small towns or sitting forlorn in the middle of a pasture in rural areas.

And you pass a great many weathered old homes that have long since seen better days.

But a long-distance train trip is a study in contrasts. Just after leaving Fort Worth on an overcast day, Amtrak's Texas Eagle passes the Hyatt Regency hotel which stands within sight of a good deal of low-income housing.

Somehow ... as a society ... we need to find a way to improve the lives of a huge number of our fellow Americans. Perhaps if Members of Congress took a few cross country train trips and could see how most people are living, we could make a little more progress!


Kevin Love said...

The USA may be the greatest country on earth if you happen to be ultra-rich, but for ordinary people it is currently #15.

The USA is just ahead of Spain and behind Austria. See:

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