Transportation Secretary Buttigieg Goes Off the Rails

As we noted, Federal Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is fond of taking trips on private jets funded by taxpayers. As the nonprofit Americans for Public Trust revealed, Secretary Buttigieg has taken at least 18 trips on private jets funded by taxpayers, including a trip to Montreal, Canada, to receive an award. The Secretary’s response to a recent railway incident also deserves a closer look. 

As Newsweek reports, on February 3rd, a train carrying vinyl chloride and other chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, forcing “evacuations for thousands of residents living nearby.” People in the area and across the country expected the Transportation Secretary to address the issue at a February 13th National Association of Counties event. Secretary Buttigieg ignored the derailment and instead focused on “diversity” issues. 

“We have heard way too many stories from generations past of infrastructure where you got a neighborhood, often a neighborhood of color, that finally sees the project come to them, but everyone in the hard hats on that project, doing the good paying jobs, don’t look like they came from anywhere near the neighborhood,” said Buttigieg. That is bureaucratic shorthand for people of pallor, also known as white people. 

Based on what they “look like,” Buttigieg knows for sure they didn’t come from the neighborhood. The Transportation Secretary failed to provide any numbers. Still, he clearly believes there are too many people of no color in construction jobs. He favors a workforce “that reflects the community,” code for standard-brand diversity dogma. 

Every endeavor must reflect the ethnic percentages of the nation, the dogma contends. If it does not, the problem is always deliberate discrimination, and the solution is government action in favor of quotas. As Thomas Sowell has often noted, the trouble is that statistical disparities are the rule, not the exception, in America. Personal differences, effort and choice account for such disparities, all factors the diversity dogmatists ignore. 

In California, diversity dogmatists contended that there were “too many” people of pallor in the state’s college system. Highly qualified students were rejected, and quotas were established for minorities. For details, see the Bakke case. He won, but the problem continued. 

The people of California responded with the California Civil Rights Initiative, the 1996 Proposition 209, which eliminated racial preferences in state education, employment, and contracting. Contrary to what many believe, the victorious measure did not end affirmative action. 

The state’s higher education system provides a place for all students. The system can cast the widest possible net and continue to help students on the financial side. What education bureaucrats can’t do is prefers students on a racial basis, and that’s what Secretary Buttigieg wants for the construction industry. This should not be a surprise from a man who once claimed that racism was “physically built” into highways.

No word from the Transportation Secretary whether racism was physically built into railroad design and construction. After he ignored the Ohio derailment and took heat from Democrats and Republicans alike, Buttigieg responded, “I continue to be concerned about the impacts of the February 3rd train derailment near East Palestine, OH, and the effects on families in the ten days since their lives were upended through no fault of their own. It’s important that families have access to useful & accurate information.” 

Buttigieg didn’t define the valuable and accurate information he thought the evacuated families should have. If any of those families, or anybody across the country, thought the Transportation Secretary should step down, it would be hard to blame them. 

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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