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HISTORY: Are we repeating mistakes of the past?

Letter by Chris A. Talbert, Tacoma on June 8, 2012 at 9:12 am with 9 Comments »
June 8, 2012 9:27 am

Thursday’s “Looking Back” feature brought an uncomfortable smile to my face. The photo showed City of Tacoma workers removing streetcar tracks in 1939, and noted that the tracks were sold to Japan as scrap – which it used to assemble the machines of war used against the United States in World War II.

They say that history is a great teacher, but it helps if you listen. Today’s wisdom has us spending billions of dollars to re-install streetcars while shipping tons of scrap to China. I hope for our sake that we aren’t on the wrong track again.

Leave a comment Comments → 9
  1. SwordofPerseus says:

    Trust me, we’re on the wrong track. Our bought and paid for politicians are selling us down the river at the request of BIG BUSINESS. If you don’t like Middle Class America vote for Romney.

  2. alindasue says:

    While we were tearing up those tracks and selling the scrap to Japan, they kept theirs. During a trip to Japan back in 2004, some of the stations we stopped at dated back to the 1920s. Commuter trains used to take people all over the place in Tacoma. (The pagoda at Pt. Defiance was a train station.) They still do go just about everywhere in Japan.

    Meanwhile, we are now spending many millions just trying to re-establish a couple commuter lines between Tacoma and Seattle…

  3. SwordofPerseus says:

    Anyone know why we tore up the street car tracks all over America with a few notable exceptions? Two companies saw to it that the street cars were sold off and scrapped, General Motors and Standard Oil. Why you ask? Simple; to rip us off in the guise of granting you more freedom. Freedom to own a car and drive anywhere you want pay road taxes and tolls, gas taxes, car license taxes and on and on. So what if it was an economic disaster for most working people at the time? It was sure good for GM and Standard Oil.

  4. SwordofPerseus says:

    “By the time of the 1973 oil crisis, controversial new testimony was presented to a United States Senate inquiry into the causes of the decline of streetcar systems in the U.S. This alleged that there was a wider conspiracy—by GM in particular—to destroy effective public transport systems in order to increase sales of automobiles and that this was implemented with great effect to the detriment of many cities.”

    The Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 caused great difficulties for the streetcar operators by making it illegal for a single business to both provide public transport and supply electricity to other parties. E. Quinby later asked “Who is behind this campaign to separate the obviously economical combination of electric railway and its power plant?”.


    This most profound question was never answered, who indeed was behind this legislation.

  5. Sword – you forgot Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.

    My late aunt lived in Beaverton Oregon – about 26 miles west of Portland – and thanks to Portland’s light rail system it took her 45 minutes with one transfer to get to the Portland Airport which is northeast of the Portland.

  6. I remember in the ’40’s seeing street car tracks being torn up in Columbus Ohio, I agree that it was the oil and automotive interests who paid off certain politicians to make it happen.

  7. fanciladi says:

    I grew up in the 40’s…I remember Mom saying that we were sending our steel/metal to Japan and they were giving it back to us in our boys!

    We need to learn from history…we need to teach ‘true’ history in schools again. Our kids and our younger people think they have this grand new idea…well, if they knew history, they’d find our it was an old idea that failed terrible and was bad for our country.

    Rome fell from within….watch out USA…blind love for the almighty $$$ plus other power things is breaking down our security and soon we may be ‘up the creek without a paddle’!

    Wondering why we can’s re-use our steel here??? We did do that, didn’t we???

  8. SwordofPerseus says:

    fanciladi says-“well, if they knew history, they’d find our it was an old idea that failed terrible and was bad for our country.”

    Are you saying lite rail was bad for our country? It seems like that is your point.

  9. fanciladi says:

    No…I was leaning on the ‘selling of our metal’ to Japan comment plus learning about history!

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