Slow Train to the Plane

by JOHN L. HESS

As the New York Times told it, the new train to the plane looks like a two billion-dollar fiasco. A door bumped the Mayor on a trial run; once in business, the train broke down, the few travelers got in late, and found they had to change trains anyway, shlepping luggage up and down many stairs.

The Times recalled that the last train to the plane was a flop, too.

It mentioned that way back, Robert Moses had vetoed any rail connection to the airports. He despised public transit and the people who use it. He set out to bulldoze the city to make way for more cars to get in and out What the Times did not mention was that Moses was its prophet, and could do no wrong. So in this case as in many others, the Times bears a heavy responsibility.

Another example is connected with the worsening plight of the city’s poor, as described in a powerful column today by Bob Herbert. A letter to the Times from a rightwing think tank recalled an editorial it ran 16 years ago, headlined "The Right Minimum Wage Is $0.00." [zero dollars and zero cents] It said low pay was a blessing for people who didn’t have the skill to do better. This guy thought that was true then, and is true today.

I quote that same headline in ”My Times: A Memoir of Dissent," as one of many misdemeanors lost down the Times’s memory hole. It occurs to me that the book would be just the thing to pass the time on the train to the plane. Though you might finish it before you got there.

JOHN L. HESS is a former writer for the New York Times, a career he chronicles in his excellent new book My Times: a Memoir of Dissent. Hess is now a political commentator for WBAI.

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