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Dear President Lincoln: Choose Green Transportation (a parody)

By -- January 12, 2014

To: Abraham Lincoln

From: Sherman Johnson, National Bovine Resources Defense Council; Harris Rutherford, Cowpeace International; William Oaks, Prairie Defense Fund

Dear Mr. President:

Of late, you have been asked to promote the construction of a massive transportation project connecting the East Coast to the Pacific and rumor has it that you are planning to embrace the technology of “railroads” which rely on steel rails and coal-fired steam engines.  We urge you to reconsider this in favor of an approach which has many benefits: ox-cart transportation, or OCT, and implement a BTC or bovine transportation credit.

The advantages of ox-cart transportation include:

Sustainability: Railroads rely on steel and coal, both of which are finite, meaning that a peak in their production is inevitable.  OCT uses only products (oxen, wood, oats) which are renewable.

Jobs: We estimate the OCT will require the hiring of nearly 25 times as many drivers (or “ox conductors”) as the equivalent amount of railroad transport.  Our economy will benefit accordingly.

Emissions: As you know, OCT produces only biodegradable emissions versus that of steam engines.

Costs: While it is true that OCT is much more costly than so-called conventional transport (railroads), by promoting a Transcontinental Oxen Road, the increased demand for oxen and drivers should provide a strong learning curve effect.  By our calculations, the crossover point for costs will be in 1893, by which point the term “Dumb as an Ox” will be made obsolete.

Distributed Transportation: A major factor in favor of OCT is its distributed nature.  To have availability of railroad capacity means that an entire system must be constructed, whereas any household can have its own OCT capacity.

Reliability: It is true that delivery by OCT is less predictable and reliable than by railroad, however, customers can easily offset this with extra storage.  Additionally, the producers of goods can be forced to maintain some “peaking” production capacity, to compensate for times when OCT falls short of needs.

Local Agriculture: Since OCT is part of the Slow Food Movement, food cannot be shipped as far and thus, consumers will have to buy their food from sources closer to them, providing a major boost to local farmers.

Energy Security: Relying on diversified fuel in the form of agricultural products will reduce our nation’s reliance on supplies from politically unstable areas like West Virginia.

Overall, it is our considered opinion that the externalities are so great as to overwhelm the cost difference, which will in any rate decline as the industry moves up the learning curve.

Our nation will be cleaner, more secure, and experience an unparalleled boom in employment as a result of following this green path. Godspeed.


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