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Remembering History to Solve Problems

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One of the most famous of all aphorisms belongs to the philosopher George Santayana: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That’s true as far as it goes. However, in many situations the opposite is true too: remembering the past can help us to repeat it in order to solve today’s problems. Israel’s (and America’s) transportation problems are a case in point.

As a small country with a good portion of its population centered in highly dense Gush Dan, Israelis suffer from massive traffic jams every day to and from work. No less problematic is the fact that such work concentration seriously impedes the development of Israel’s periphery: the Negev and Galilee.

America suffers from an additional problem. It is so large that building and especially maintaining its transportation infrastructure is a very costly affair – and such infrastructure is literally falling apart.

Add to this the major phenomenon of climate change as a result (in good part) of fossil fuels spent on transport in both countries (and elsewhere too, of course), and the issue of getting people to and from work becomes a burning issue (pun intended).

What are Israel and the U.S. planning on doing? In the U.S., President Biden is trying to get approval to spend trillions of dollars on infrastructure; in Israel, the Ministry of Transport continues to enlarge the road system at great cost, along with some public transport expansion as well.

Everyone seems to agree that transportation outlays are critical. But to a large extent this is misleading – a function of a mindset stuck in the recent past. I........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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