Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Streetsblog.net

Detroit Media Mogul: Beware Transport Subsidies (Except for Cars)

From Scott Walker to the New York Post, opponents of transit and bicycling have displayed a masterful ability to selectively apply their disdain for "government interference."

false

When it comes to transportation policy, they equate spending on rail lines or bike lanes to socialism, while overlooking any and all subsidies for roads and cars. That's just the "free market" at work, they say.

The latest purveyor of this double-standard is none other than the publisher of a national news conglomerate. Keith Crain, chairman of the Crain's media empire, doesn't like the fact that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has accepted federal money for a rail connection with Chicago.

As Joel Batterman at Network blog Transport Michigan points out, Crain has a pretty short memory:

"Beware," Crain warns, "when anyone shows up and says, 'I am from the government and I'm here to help you.'" Interesting. Turns out a certain Detroit publisher begged the federal government to step in and bail out another transportation industry (hint: four wheels, internal combustion engine) just three years ago. "Across the world," Crain wrote back then, "governments are reaching out to help their auto companies survive." He lamented the "theatrics" that Big Three CEOs had to endure in Washington hearings after their neglect of more fuel-efficient vehicles nearly wiped out the industry.

Come to think of it, didn't the government have a hand in building our roads, too? Why no column titled "We don't need highway aid from Washington," just for consistency's sake? In Crain's mind, are the Interstates also an example of Big Government largesse?

The "libertarian," "public choice" argument for exclusive government support of automobiles is getting just a little old these days. It's rather embarrassing, here in Michigan, watching poor Keith trying to make it work in defiance of historical memory. How can anyone still think this way, when they've just had the government step in to save their whole business universe?

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Wash Cycle asks if it's time to retire the "Share the Road" sign. Gateway Streets reports that despite the St. Louis region's growing number of roadway miles, commuting isn't getting any easier for area residents. And Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space comments on D.C.'s attempt to raise residential parking fees for households that own multiple vehicles.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

The Paris Plan for Olympic Traffic? Build More Bike Lanes

A push to make Paris fully bikable for the Olympics is already paying dividends long before the opening ceremonies.

July 25, 2024

Thursday’s Headlines Face Our Fears

What happens if Republicans win the trifecta in November? Judging by the GOP-controlled House budget, a lot less money for transit, Smart Cities Dive reports.

July 25, 2024

Wednesday’s Headlines Are in a Good Place

How should we react to public indifference about the danger cars pose to society? Perhaps a sitcom has something to teach us.

July 24, 2024

Opinion: Is Kamala Harris ‘The Climate President We’ve Been Waiting For’?

Kamala Harris fought hard for a better transportation plan in the San Diego region despite big political risks. If elected president, will she do the same for the country?

July 24, 2024

America is Setting Micromobility Records — But That Boom Could Go Bust Without Public Funding

Shared bike and scooter trips soared 20 percent in a single year. So why are so many U.S. systems shutting down — and what will it take to keep the revolution rolling?

July 24, 2024
See all posts