letter to the editor, re: subsidies for drivers

I've always thought it a little strange that I've managed to get a half dozen letters published in The New York Times and even one in The Washington Post, but still not a single one in the Chicago Tribune. This one, which I sent last week, continues the streak.

To the editors:
If car-dependent suburbanites think they're subsidizing public transit in Chicago, they're dead wrong ("Transit agencies go after billions", 2007 February 8). It's those of us who don't own cars that are subsidizing them: paying to build roads for them, paying the clean-up costs and hospital bills incurred by their pollution and car accidents, sacrificing valuable urban space to eyesores like parking lots and gas stations.

But even more than nondrivers, it's future generations who are subsidizing drivers. As the IPCC report on global warming makes clear, our children and grandchildren will spend huge amounts of money to deal with the mess we're giving them. What is this but an enormous transfer of their wealth to us, so that we can enjoy the convenience of traffic jams and road rage?

We should dramatically increase taxes on cars and gasoline and use the money to build an outstanding public transit system for the whole metro area. The faster we do it, the less money we'll be stealing from those who come after us.

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