Oh Wente

I avoid Margaret Wente’s column generally, because by doing so I remember that the Globe is a good paper with columnists who actually do some research. Yesterday she wrote about her SUV, and strangely, freedom. And how freedom is linked to her right to drive her SUV. It’s mostly a cranky rant designed to enrage – the way my dad tells me to eat meat though I’m a vegetarian. It’s a blog-worthy level of discourse (ahem) – not sure how this stuff makes it into Canada’s Standard-Bearer of the news. This part was particularly stupid:

It’s no accident that bus and subway riders are mostly young and poor. They take public transit not because it’s the better way, but because they can’t afford to drive. The moment they get a little older and a little better off, they move to the suburbs and buy a car. The only cities where the middle-aged middle classes resort to public transit (London, New York) are places where driving and parking in the city core are nearly impossible.

She’s wrong, obviously. When I moved here, I was fascinated by how many middle class types were on the subway, and didn’t seem to mind the creepiness of the young and the poor. The letters in today’s paper, in response, were good:

here
and here
and here too

And the freedom thing – I left an auto-dependent city for Toronto five years ago. The freedom of getting off a streetcar or subway, without having to park or get gas, is still a wonderful feeling.