An End to the Recession
How High Speed Rail Promises To Bring All Classes to a Second Gilded Age
(Note: This original publication was published on the HSRAC website on July 16th, 2014. Some events at the time may be dated — but the message still holds.)
You don’t know how many times I’m going to repeat this because this quote by Samuel Langhorne Clemens, otherwise known as Mark Twain, is the cornerstone of HSRAC: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
What he means by that is history follows a certain pattern when events occur, from minor things to locking your keys in your car in different places to major tragedies such as the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 which can be seen as history rhyming in different ways from the recent MH370, to Korean Flight 007 during the Reagan Era, to even the Lusitania. Now apart from scaring about World War 3, maybe I opened you up A LOT more to how important it is to know history which is why — you guessed it — more history incoming.
After the destructive Civil War tore America to taters in the 1860s, the country entered a period of reconstruction and something called the “Gilded Age”. Railroad building was the primary force in connecting the country back through a bond of steel and now opened up enormous opportunities:
Railroads were the field were many of the greatest Gilded Age fortunes were built. With the opening of the West, railroad construction reached record proportions just after Civil War and during the 1870’s and 1880’s. Railroad mileage rose from 35'000 miles in 1865 to over 163'000 in 1890, almost a fivefold increase. Railroads became the knit which held together the growing nation, creating by their very existence opportunities for entrepreneurs in other fields.
Anyone in America could potentially become rich, from a poor Scottish immigrant, Andrew Carnegie, to an African American woman known as Madam C.J. Walker. Of course we can’t ignore that during that time, a lot of poor European immigrants that came in were starving too:
Now, history can rhyme again, in an age with workers rights and minimum wage this time. And we can choose what we want to rhyme, for example, the amount of jobs that can be created with high speed rail. Hundreds upon thousands of workers built the Transcontinental Railroad, and with California already training local workers on building for high speed rail, (especially those in high poverty areas) imagine the same that can be done for the rest of the country?
Since I mentioned Detroit in a post last week, I’ll bring it up in this regard. Detroit was known for being the richest city in America, and if you have eyes, you’ve seen what Detroit has turned to now. No government can possibly fix the horror the Motor City has turned into, but what if the mallet again came down, and the steel began to clank once again?
When you hear the news of the U.S.’s GDP shrinking down, and the unemployment rate lowering because people are just giving up leaving the workforce altogether (you can’t be counted as unemployed if you are not looking for work) do you believe you are living in the same country that Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Walker, and Julia Tuttle (another woman entrepreneur) lived in? In fact, you are. They all came from after the Civil War and a time we call The Long Depression. Instead, we sitting and blaming congress and a President voted the worst since WWII. Politics and conspiracy theories aside; no congressman or President puts himself in office — you, me, your neighbors and we the people do. 313 Million people have that power.
Imagine history once again rhyming with itself, and Detroit were to build the rails, the trains and more importantly the bond that will bring the country together once again. Hundreds upon thousands to even millions of jobs can be created across the nation. A real hope can be set not in a leader, but in ourselves — that we as a nation can band together as different individuals to help one another and lift out from the ashes. A Renaissance is waiting to replace a recession, but the choice to make it happen rests with you. How well do you know your history, and how much would you like to set history again?
Be sure to check out the High Speed Rail America Club’s hit documentary, The American Train!