mobility = security

i submitted a response to an article in the Seattle Times Opinion Blog in which someone quoted this page, which was extrapolating on content from this NY Times article that it wasn't the black people per se that failed to get out of New Orleans before Katrina struck, it was the poor people who lacked vehicles. it seems a lack of sufficient evacuation transportation brought in by FEMA to the area beforehand, and the city's decision to spend a couple hundred million dollars on short street car lines aimed at tourists rather than on serious transportation infrastructure are both partially responsible.

here's the response i submitted:
(in the interest of full disclosure i should point out that i fixed an annoying grammatical error i caught after the fact)

I agree that O'Toole makes a very interesting point. The vast number of vehicles throughout the United States contributes greatly to the security of any particular area- especially the number of trucks, which are obviously better suited to carrying large payloads. A large number of those trucks aren't even confined to roads at all. I've yet to see anyone make that argument against the envirozealots who want to outlaw SUVs!

I know if I needed to leave an area in a hurry in a time of crisis I'd much rather take my pickup, and be able to carry more (hastily assembled people or stuff) than I could cram in my Geo Metro! Enhanced security is a valid argument for expanding the increasingly taxed capacity of major thoroughfares that's been largely overlooked. Gridlock on your commute is annoying; gridlock during a natural disaster or attack could cost many their lives.

After all, when the interstate freeway system was developed, wasn't one of the intentions to provide for quick, effective, wide-ranging mobilization in times of crises? Infrastructure is key to regional security, and that applies to both times of war and natural disasters. The fact that private citizens and enterprise (read: Wal-Mart) can take advantage of their private and our public infrastructure to the degree they can is certainly more than a happy coincidence.

It's easy to take this line of thinking one step further and apply it to the vast number of civilians with firearms. It's always seemed to me it would be incredibly difficult for any foriegn military to invade and occupy U.S. territory. If the entire coalition of ground forces in Iraq can't seem to lock down the insurgency in a country that small, despite the vast amount of resources poured into the problem and the degraded state of the country's infrastructure, what kind of chance would anyone have of marching down, taking, and holding Main Street, U.S.A., with our relatively huge number of armed and mobile (not to mention motivated) citizens? House-to-house fighting against our civilian population alone would be extremely costly to an invading force, regardless of their number of soldiers on the ground. It seems to follow then that any future wide-scale attack here will be aimed at creating large numbers of civilian casualties, through either biological or (i think less likely) nuclear methods.

And that brings me back to the centralized transportation: you don't see people bombing individual commuter cars in Spain or London, or leaving sarin nerve gas in someone's back seat in Japan. I'm going to remember that when I'm growling about being stuck in traffic, and when it's time to vote on transportation issues.

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