Favorite

Call me Eurotrash 

Turns out Barack Obama, despite his basketball skills, isn't a wholly regular guy. His Ivy League background shows. You won't catch him knocking back a shot of rye at a tavern or dunking a doughnut at a diner. A varietal wine and a plate of kiwi fruit seem more his speed. He's also had the gall to suggest Americans would do well to speak a second language.

This is all fine by me. We've endured  eight years of a fake cowboy who, before his election, seemed to be proud he'd never had an interest in the world beyond Beaumont, Texas. You know how that turned out.

We can learn much overseas. A friend of mine just returned from a trip to Europe. He sent to family and friends a photo of his gas receipt from a Dutch fill-up. The price (after decimal system and currency conversion) was a bit more than $10 per U.S. gallon. That makes $4 per gallon seem a bargain.

Or does it?

My friend landed in Amsterdam. An airport train took him to the center of town for about $5, with a train running every 10 minutes. From the main station, he could reach any spot on the continent. If he'd been the healthy type, he could have packed a bicycle and cycled into town on one of several bike paths built to link the airport and the city. Don't try this in Little Rock.

Had my friend been stopping in Amsterdam, his public transit choices would have been cheap and efficient, day and night seven days a week. It was no different at his main  destination, Prague, where he said it took no time to understand the Czech trams like a native.

He had many choices of overnight train routes back to Belgium for the final days of his vacation. In the U.S., long-distance train choices are few, slow and prone to erratic schedules.

Back in Belgium, my friend rented a car. Yes, the gas was expensive. But wait. When you're driving a car that gets 40 miles a gallon and up, the European price isn't so far removed from the equivalent amount of fuel necessary to take a Suburban the same distance in the U.S.. Large cars are a rarity on European highways. They are, I can testify, an impossibility in the crooked narrow alleyways of medieval center cities.

You're crazy to drive in the cities anyway, given that most sights are either within walking distance or easily reachable on good public transportation. The transit directions are generally intuitive, even if English is your only language.

Transit flourishes because the cities are densely developed. Beautiful parks provide the green space the apartment blocks and townhouses lack. These parks are integral to city development, not starved afterthoughts, as they are here.

The high fuel prices come from high tax rates. The taxes pay for things like mass transit, splendid rail systems and integrated transportation hubs with seamless linkages between plane, train and even bike transportation.

European perks don't end at the bus stop.  Fall off your bike in Europe and a universal health care system is at your disposal. It's cheaper than the U.S. system, everyone is covered and everyone lives longer. That's a topic for another day. Today, I'll stick with my inclination to trade $10 gas for European-style amenities, even leaving out Amsterdam's “brown cafes.”

 

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Judge dismisses lawsuits over Albert Pike campground flood deaths

    Federal Judge Susan Hickey Tuesday dismissed 11 lawsuits filed against the federal government over the 2011 deaths of 20 people in flooding of the Little Missouri River at the Albert Pike campground in the Ouachita National Forest.
    • Mar 29, 2017
  • Intruders kill man in 19th St. home

    The Little Rock police say Eric Gavin, 45, was killed shortly before midnight last night in a home at 1314 W. 19th St.
    • Mar 29, 2017
  • Indictment returned in dog business scam

    Darrell Rosen, a former Procter and Gamble executive in Bentonville, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for defrauding investors in a  business to train and sell dogs to private companies and the federal government.
    • Mar 29, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Hutchinson pulls Faubus move

    I don't know what if anything might arise or be planned in the future relative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order to end Medicaid reimbursement for medical services (not abortion) provided by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas.
    • Aug 20, 2015
  • Neighborliness, in Little Rock and beyond

    I had a parochial topic in mind this week — a surprise plan by Mayor Mark Stodola to address the Arkansas Arts Center's many needs.
    • Nov 19, 2015
  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Don't cry for Robert E. Lee

    Congratulations are in order for Governor Hutchinson. He decided this year to devote the weight of his office to end the state's embarrassing dual holiday for slavery defender Robert E. Lee and civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.
    • Mar 23, 2017
  • City Board discovers LRSD

    An article in Sunday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reminded me of John Belushi in "Animal House" exhorting frat brothers to rally against a dean's effort to put them out of business. "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"
    • Mar 16, 2017
  • Supremely disappointing

    The Arkansas Supreme Court last week delivered a blow to civil rights in Arkansas. It was another results-oriented decision that gives a clue to how far the justices likely will go to appease the legislature.
    • Mar 2, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Brant Collins named Group Travel Manager for Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Brant Collins named Group Travel Manager for Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

Collins to work toward increasing visitation to Arkansas by groups and promoting the state's appeal

Event Calendar

« »

March

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: More on pits

    • So pit bulls do not kill or main humans, their owners do. Sounds just like…

    • on March 29, 2017
  • Re: Slim margin could decide 2014 elections

    • Good Day: to whom it may concern, I am Lori McKissick From Ohio U.S.A, I…

    • on March 28, 2017
  • Re: More on pits

    • "investigator of both sides": Aside from being a snide ass, you are an idiot. If…

    • on March 28, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation