The last time I bothered myself with the Census Bureau concoction called the American Community Survey, it was to tell people to ignore it and tell the government to butt out of their lives.
But, since most people don’t share my minimalist (and constitutionalist) view of what the census may and may not ask, countless people gladly shared countless details about their lives. It is only fitting that some of them have given me column material.
One of the curiosities Washington has about us is how we get to work. The federal government’s feelings on this generally depend on whose ideas are holding sway. If a Democrat in the White House means you will feel pressure to carpool, ride a bike or take public transportation, then Barack Obama in the White House means you will be vilified if you don’t.
So I wonder what the feds of the moment thought when the census data revealed that Dallas is not exactly lunging toward the Obama-approved methods of getting to your job, presuming you have one.
The city’s carpooling is down, and mass transit ridership is about flat. The percentage of Dallas workers commuting alone actually went up a tick between 2008 and 2010. Younger commuters, heavily counted on by the nanny state to lead all of us old loners onto trains and bicycles, also increased their taste for the solo commute.
Amid the wave of finger-wagging lectures aimed at Americans daring to actually drive themselves places, this is remarkable. And I cannot suppress my smile.
Please understand, I have no quarrel with mass transit, which I have used often when living in or visiting cities that have it. And heaven knows I could hit the bike more often.
But there is something inspiring about a population that listens to its government insult the choices it makes, and sticks with those choices anyway.
DART is making inroads, and good for it. An already ambitious system will soon be able to take us to D/FW Airport, Irving, even Rowlett by rail. I respect anyone’s choice to make that trip by that method.
But if I happen to want to get from point A to point B by getting in a car I own and driving it there, I would appreciate it if the president and any other disapprovers minded their own business.
It is a good thing for a major city to have mass transit people actually use. It is a bad thing for our leaders to try to make us feel like lesser citizens if we say thanks, I’ll drive.
Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo was in town Monday, touting the merits of rail over cars. He is welcome to persuade us to leave the car in the garage and hop a train. But if mass transit does not go where we wish, or if, heaven forbid, we like the freedom and individuality of driving, that choice should not be derided by our government.
When shifts away from cars are called an “improvement,” it is clear the power structure prefers you gathered with the masses in a government environment, or at the very least left your evil fossil-fueled car to rust in the driveway.
I salute those Dallas residents standing up for the liberty and autonomy of driving their cars alone to work, a consumer choice every bit as valid as a bike or a bus or a carpool. In fact, while our leaders try to make our cities march to a European lock step tune of the masses commuting as one, the man or woman driving to work alone is saying, “I’ll go where I want, when I want,” a statement that sounds downright American.
The Mark Davis Show airs from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays on KSKY (660 AM). He can be reached at email@example.com