Coercion

This is from a year ago, but I’ve only just learned about it. In a revealing exchange at the National Press Club on May 21, 2009, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was asked about his policies for promoting mass transit and bicycling:

Q: Some in the highway-supporters motorist groups have been concerned by your livability initiative. Is this an effort to make driving more torturous and to coerce people out of their cars?

LaHood: It is a way to coerce people out of their cars, yeah. I mean, look, people don’t like spending an hour and a half getting to work. And people don’t like spending an hour going to the grocery store. And all of you who live around here know exactly what I’m talking about. . .

Q: How do you respond?

LaHood: About everything we do around here is government intrusion into people’s lives. Have at it. [Laughter.]

NOTE: I’ve cobbled the exchange together from three sources, using the C-SPAN uncorrected transcript (at 21:48) to determine the correct order of the pieces. (Curiously, the C-SPAN video won’t play.) I also added the emphasis.

This came just days after a George Will column alleging that LaHood was trying to modify people’s behavior. I think it’s safe to call that allegation confirmed.

I’m sure the left talks this way amongst themselves all the time in private, but I am surprised to see LaHood come out and proclaim his support for coercion and intrusion into people’s lives at the National Press Club. We need these people out of office. Quite simply, they are enemies of freedom.

POSTSCRIPT: One possible explanation for LaHood’s indiscreet remarks is he may have had good reason to feel he was among friends. After his breezy defense of government intrusion, the transcript shows laughter where it ought to show gasps. Furthermore, when the National Press Club reported the event, the article made no mention of the chilling coercion/intrusion exchange, and made the meeting out to be a love-fest:

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s penchant for off-the-cuff bantering with the press shined through at a packed NPC luncheon May 21, eliciting more laughs than customary for a Cabinet official.

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