When a buffoon like Thomas Friedman prattles on with China envy, it's up-to-a-point amusing. When when it comes from a Cabinet secretary, it's just a little bit scary:
Echoing the laments of pundits like Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood argued Saturday that China outpaces the United States in building major transportation infrastructure like high-speed rail because of its authoritarian system and because the Chinese don't have the Republican Party holding up progress.
"The Chinese are more successful [in building infrastructure] because in their country, only three people make the decision. In our country, 3,000 people do, 3 million," LaHood said in a short interview with The Cable on the sidelines of the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival on June 30. "In a country where only three people make the decision, they can decide where to put their rail line, get the money, and do it. We don't do it that way in America."
LaHood said that despite this, democracy is still preferable. "We have the best system of government anywhere on the planet. It is the best. Because the people have their say," he said.
During his conference session at the festival, LaHood blamed Republicans in Congress, especially the Tea Party freshman class elected in 2010, for the relative lack of progress in moving forward with high-speed rail even though the administration has obligated more than $11 billion to the effort.
"Two years ago, between 50 to 60 Republicans were elected to the House of Representatives to come to Washington to do nothing, and that's what they've done and they've stopped any progress. Those people don't have any vision about what the government can do. That's been a real inhibitor in our ability to think outside the box and think big," he said.
Yeah, those darn Republicans won't let the party of progress just get on with doing what is right. And those awful millions of citizens -- imagine them wanting a say instead of putting their faith in those who know what's best for the rest of us. Wouldn't it just be dandy if they'd all go away and let the experts take charge the way they were meant to!
Notice the little "democracy is still preferable" caveat he felt obligated to throw in there. Anybody really believe such an authoritarian statist could possible really mean it? Somebody who speaks so wistfully about three people getting to make the decisions surely does not harbor a deep reverence for "consent of the governed."
Love the part about how they have a "relative lack of progress" on high-speed-rail despite having been able to waste $11 billion on the effort and that LaHood's concept of "thinking outside the box" is to pour even more billlions down the same rathole.
Those of us who say things like this about Obamacare are accused by some of being slightly over the top:
This is shaping up to be the biggest encroachment on personal freedom in America’s history, and if the federal government can take their authority this far, we’d be fools not to question just how far the American people are going to allow the government to go before insisting that enough is enough.
"How far we'll allow the government to go" is the real question, because there is absolutely no doubt about how far the government would like to go.