In a message dated 00-07-15 18:45:17 EDT, W Mandel writes:
>But it was also my business to learn, and to tell my KPFA
>audiences, that the country that had led the world in building
>the world's largest and most powerful long-distance aircraft
>later lost out in the passenger transport industry because the
>inefficiencies of that society led to an inability to make engines
>that could compete with ours.
I can't comment at the moment on the state of affairs in
mass transit in the Soviet Union, but I do know that the
political and economic power of the auto industry in the
USA went a long way toward the destruction of mass
transit in this country. The whole sordid story was told
in a document prepared for Congress in 1974 by economic
historian Bradford Snell. It was entitled American Ground
In the 1950s Oklahoma City, where I am from, had two
beautiful railroad stations and was served by 20 passenger
trains a day. By 1979, there was no passengere train
service in the entire state of Oklahoma. Last summer an
Amtrak route from OkC to Ft. Worth was restored, but
service is limited to one round trip a day.
Another large reason why passenger train service declined
in the USA was because the Postal Service decided to
stop shipping mail on the trains.
>The absence of a market led to an inability to
>understand that plastics could and should replace steel in many
>fields and, above all, a failure to get into mass production of
>computers although they already had some of the most powerful in
>order to do their Sputnik calculations.
I think a big factor inhibiting the production of more and better
consumer goods in the USSR was the arms race -- largely
inspired by a military threat from the US. Too much of their
energies and talents were consumed by trying to keep up.
Considering the fact that at least a third of their industrial
capacity was destroyed by the Nazi onslaught, the Soviet
economy was doing well in the postwar period to maintain
the standard of living achieved.
>I don't like boom-boxes. I don't have a cell phone. But I
>don't want a society that will dictate to others that they can't
Probably the majority of cities have noise control ordinances
which prohibit noise aggressors from blasting their junk sounds
in such a way as to impose on others. The problem is generally
weak enforcement efforts.
These ordinances not only should be enforced, but need to be
updated to keep up with the current generation of audio
terrorists. As for boom cars, in many places there is no way
to operate the equipment for them legally. The whole point
is to make noise to "be heard" and aggravate others. This
equipment should be confiscated. For more on this, see my
articles at this web site:
Click on English and then library online.
As for cell phones, they are clearly dangerous when used
in motor vehicles. They also should be prohibited in
libraries, classrooms, and restaurants.
Ever had to hear an electronic "Pop Goes the Weasel"
while trying to read a book?
>As to Baran and Sweezy, I beg to differ. Sweezy got stars in
>his eyes over Mao's Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
>Baran's prediction of a stagnant capitalism is obvious nonsense.
We hear a lot about our "booming economy" and marvelously
"low unemployment." It is true that many low-paying jobs
have been created in the last two decades.
Been to Dallas lately? The trend in residential construction
is huge mansions for the super-rich and apartments and
condos for everyone else. The builders understand what's
been happening in the American economy for the past 30
And what's been happening has been upward redistribution
of wealth and income.
The typical American of the not-too-distant future will have
his cell phone, hand-held computer, huge video screen,
boom box, and other gadgets -- all crowded into a 600-sq.
foot living space. Let's just hope that the walls aren't so
thin that the neighbors' boom boxes will keep him from sleeping.
~ Michael Wright
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