Rev. Jesse Jackson Midwest High Speed Rail Association 2014 Spring Meeting

I’m doing videos for the Midwest High Speed Rail Association 2014 Spring Meeting out of order. The Rev. Jesse Jackson was not on the original list of speakers. I had mixed feelings when hearing Rev. Jackson would speak. For years I have been angered at how a situation in Decatur Illinois was handled. Like many things in life no one cared to explored the real truth. It was more newsworthy to fan the flames and make the situation even more heated than it originally was. None of the news organizations or Jesse Jackson bothered to point out that the Zero Tolerance policy that was being promoted as racially motivated – had been in effect since 1984 or 85 – almost a decade and a half before the incident that caused the uproar. The national press only inflamed an already tense climate. How things were handled did nothing to bring calm or resolution to the community turmoil. Some would say to this day those wounds still exist in Decatur. My first hand knowledge of an incident in 84 or 85 – has always had me asking where was Rev. Jesse Jackson – when one white student the aggressor and the white student victim were both told they would be expelled from Eisenhower High School? Until the victims father called a lawyer. If we want equality for all and equal treatment – why did no one care to look into the Zero Tolerance policy until over 10+ years later? Answer is simple – it wasn’t a racial issue and wouldn’t have made as much of a headline if any.

All that being said it would be hard to not be interested in hearing a person who is living history speak. We have all made bad decisions in life or not handled a situation well. Some would say as long as you learn from these lessons – all or most is forgiven. As expected Rev. Jesse Jackson is a great public speaker – decades of practice helps you refine your craft. When listening to well known people talk I try to have a bit of skepticism. Over the years I’ve found that politicians and those with agendas are great at telling crowds what they want to hear.

A great example of this – in 2006 at the Gnomedex technology conference in Seattle – John Edwards was the keynote speaker. The whole time he is telling the attendees what they want to hear – the crowd is loving it – the whole time I was the only one in the room thinking what a crock of shit. Everything being said was just catering to the masses in the room. It was also popular sentiment then and in some case now. Unfortunately those in attendance didn’t brush up on their history or realize that there were reasons what they were against had to take place. Sad and frustrating considering some of our nation’s greatest minds were in attendance.

Rev. Jackson acknowledged that he was speaking to the choir. Everyone in the audience knows that passenger rail creates jobs. They know that passenger rail can create economic development. These people know that passenger rail especially when done all electric is more environmentally friendly than other forms of transportation. They are aware that for the same amount of fuel / energy rail moves more people. The audience is fully aware of how far behind the United States is – in regards to passenger rail networks and technology. This audience definitely knows that Japan is celebrating 50 – yes 50 years of true high speed passenger rail this year. Some of those attendees may take a trip to Japan later this year to observe the network and celebration.

Earlier in the day at my table I stated that it is easy to get high speed rail implement in the United States. Everyone laughed like it was a joke. I have long thought that national pride needs to become the center piece of this debate. We discussed how the past few generations don’t seem to have that sense of national pride – although many beat their chest about how they love this country.

I don’t think anyone at my table caught this or fully understood Rev. Jackson’s referencing the same concept. In the video above when he mentions the Russian’s and Sputnik – he is clearly pointing out – that at one time America competed. If the Russia’s had it or were about to have it – then we had to beat them to the punch or match it. That competitive national sense of pride is gone in our politicians and many of our citizens. Not just in regards to passenger rail – another quick example is solar. The United States of America was the first to commercialize solar panels. Yet many in the USA have no pride to still be a leader in this industry. Like passenger rail – we have allowed other nations to take the lead while most in our country sit down and do nothing to compete against this.

Almost every well developed country on the planet has better passenger rail systems than the United States. Anyone who reads on the subject would know that there are some Third World projects in the works that will allow those nations to have more advance systems than the USA. Britain, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Taiwan are just a few of the countries that have more advanced passenger rail systems than the United States. China has made high speed rail a source of national pride and priority. Some of this is do to environmental concerns, massive traffic jams – America is heading there, to provide a more efficient way to move people from place to place and to show that it is just as advanced as other countries. In America we have no pride to answer this challenge – from a country a decade ago many would have considered in the dark ages.

Rev. Jackson made mention that many communities have the not in my backyard mentality. Right off the top of my head I think Las Vegas has shown this type of thought. Many rail proposals have come up against political and neighborhood opposition in Las Vegas. I have always been told the reason St Louis MetroLink doesn’t go out to St Charles MO is voter and political opposition. Not wanting the “undesirables” from downtown St Louis to have easy access to the suburbs.

Rev. Jackson also pointed out that the audience was almost completely white. I’ve only attended 2 Midwest High Speed Rail Association Meetings – both had a lack of color diversity. Which I find interesting because the color spectrum seems well represented within Amtrak. Those who ride Amtrak definitely aren’t just white folks. So you’d figure there would be a more diverse mix at these gatherings. The point was made that maybe a good number of people aren’t aware of passenger rail advocacy groups. That more education and promotion need to be done to correct that. Some might not understand that strong passenger rail networks can create jobs, development and transportation options within their communities.

The only woman at our table expressed frustration when hearing yet another speaker mention politics. Politicians are always brought into the mix do to – they are who provide funding for almost all passenger rail in the United States. I understand her aggravation. Passenger rail advocates and many others always focus on why things can’t get done or aren’t getting done. I have often thought we need a more Silicon Valley approach. This technology hub looks at things from the opposite prospective of how CAN things be done. Advocates always seem focused on the negative and don’t try to think outside the box. I’ve personally seen when someone does think differently often they are ridiculed. We discussed this at our table – the hate passenger rail advocates have for Elon Musk. Perfect example of why things are stuck in a rut – people seem to prefer the status quo.

I’m sure I was the only one in the audience who wondered if Rev. Jesse Jackson had every met and / or spoken with Jacqueline Smith. For those who might not know – Jacqueline Smith is a protestor outside the Lorraine Motel in Memphis Tennessee – this is the National Civil Rights Museum. She has been at a corner across the street from the motel / museum for over 20 years. I would have been more interested in hearing Rev. Jackson’s views on this – but instead someone wanted to know how he liked the food in Japan.

I didn’t realize how low the lighting was that day. There was no microphone in use and I forgot to make a settings change within my video camera to compensate for that – I apologize.

Unfortunately all my President Barack Obama pictures got scrambled and broken in a server move a few years ago. Had some great photos from his announcement in Springfield Illinois that he was running for Presidential office. I found 2 that I think readers would be interested in – they are on page 2. Thought they would be appropriate to include in this discussion.

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Shinkansen is a network of high-speed railway lines in Japan operated by four Japan Railways Group

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