Autos persecuted today just as buffalo once were
Imagine if the automobile were never invented and the horse were still a popular way to get from place to place. The horses coming into downtown from West Oahu would require shade, water and waste removal. Certainly, no one would object to providing adequate land for the animals during transit stops so they could rest and be sheltered from the elements. Water troughs would be filled and maintained throughout town. The streets would be swept clean so animal waste wouldn't pile up.
In the days of dependence upon animal transportation for survival, stealing a horse was deemed worthy of severe punishment. So when did our government shift its ideals from hanging horse thieves to deterring automobile ownership and a driver's independence?
The government doesn't care if your car has no place to rest in town, and has taken steps to make certain your ride is as unpleasant as possible. And the government has made it clear that car thieves can steal over and over again.
Downtown Honolulu has plenty of land to build parking structures above or below ground to appease those willing to saddle up their cars for the safest, fastest, most efficient ride known to humankind. As for the car thief, there are decommissioned Navy vessels floating about that would make a nice permanent home. And we have the know-how today to feed the cars of tomorrow with a technology that emits zero waste.
Unfortunately, the same kind of mentality that spurred America's government to embrace a policy to kill off herds of buffalo yesterday is doing the same today. Only now, it's killing herds of motorists. The government does not want free-grazing autos ever to rebound and be a part of the landscape as they once were. Keeping Hawaii lane-deficient and depriving motorists of adequate roadway alternatives is as much of a governmental policy today as killing buffalo once was.
Buffalo are more resistant to the diseases that plague cattle, and buffalo meat is leaner and healthier. But the government did not utilize the buffalo -- it adopted a policy that favored imported cattle instead.
The same goes for today's rail technology -- predominantly, it's foreign. Its implementation here will not feed American ingenuity, but rather foreign entities. In comparison, today's consumers are clamoring for meat with the buffalo's purity. This same calling for healthier foodstuffs today will ring true tomorrow for the commuter once consumers realize that government killed the efficiency of cars in favor of supporting less efficient modes of transportation such as mass transit. We need both types of transit alternatives: the preservation of cars and the availability of mass transit.
Travelers will always want control of their mobility options and not to be forced to take inferior means of transit that make the transportation of goods, services and people a hassle. For example, ever try getting your golf clubs to your favorite course by bus? Well, if the city gets its way, you will have to carry your clubs by train and/or by bus in the future if you want to make your tee time.
In the meantime, if you like cold beer, toilet paper and ice cream, don't complain when the costs for these items skyrocket due to delivery costs quadrupling because elected officials would not build the roads needed to get them to the store shelves efficiently. And if you want to hum "Home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play" while riding on the bus or train, I hope you will be able to remember when it was possible. Then again, it always sounded better on a horse to begin with.
Tom Berg is state Rep. Rida Cabanilla's office manager. He lives in Ewa Beach.