American Elephants

Who, me, worry? After all, it’s only money. by The Elephant's Child

Are we spreading ourselves a little thin?  As if we did not have enough to worry about, President Obama announced his plan for a massive investment to develop high speed rail networks in the United States. The term “massive investment” may be becoming a little over-used.

According to Obama’s “vision” for high speed rail, Chicago is one of the cities considered to be the center of a hub network connecting Chicago, Milwaukee, Twin Cities, St. Louis, Kansas City, Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Louisville.  As a candidate, Obama spoke of high-speed rail as part of his vision of “rebuilding America.” He talked of revitalizing the Midwest by connecting cities with faster rail service to relieve congestion and improve energy conservation, and as an alternative to air transportation connecting all those cities.

The $787.2 billion economic recovery bill dedicates $8 billion to high speed rail, and Obama will ask for $1 billion more in each of the next five years. The Reason Foundation suggests that $13 billion would hardly be a start on such a plan.

Richard Nadler, president of the Americas Majority Foundation, says high speed rail is a “genuinely horrible idea.”  Here, he said, are some  reasons why Obama’s idea to make a major investment in passenger rail is horrendous:

Genuine high-speed rail—1150-to-200 miles-per-hour, as found in Japan and parts of Europe —requires separate rights of way; broad curves, very shallow grades, and no 60-mile-per-hour freight sharing the track.  It is very expensive to engineer and maintain.

If you cut corners, as Obama implied, by using existing infrastructure, you come out with a system that will do 90-mph max, and will gum up existing freight traffic, which is much slower.

The Reason Foundation has been studying California’s high-speed rail system.  It will cost tens of billions more than estimated.  Ridership numbers will be much lower than predicted according to a due diligence report on the High-Speed Rail Authority’s plans.  “The current high-speed rail plan is a fairy tale,” said Adrian Moore PhD,  the study’s project director.  “The proposal suggests these high-speed trains will be the fastest ever; the most-ridden ever; the cheapest ever; and will convince millions of Californians they no longer need to drive or fly.  Offering up a best-case scenario is one thing, but actually depending on all of these miracles to happen simultaneously is irresponsible public policy.

In California, the Rail Authority claimed the first two phases of the system would cost $45 billion.  The Reason Foundation suggests the final price tag would be more like $81 billion.  Any failure to meet the Rail Authority’s ridership projections would force ticket price increases, further cutting ridership. The report also found that no existing high-speed rail train is currently capable of meeting the speed and safety goals set by the system’s advocates.  But California will have to use slower heavier trains because it plans on using the same tracks as freight trains in some sections.

Like I said, the term “massive investment” may be getting a little over used.  Isn’t it wonderful that we have absolutely unlimited funds to spread around on whatever strikes our fancy?


3 Comments so far
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Well, I also heard this point made on the possibility of such a high speed rail system being difficult to do.

How long will it take to do a environmental impact report, study it, and then how much wil we have to pay the greenies to shut up about uprooting randoms species natural habitats?

They say it could be just like Europe’s system, except for one thing. Europe built theirs amongst the ruinations left from WWII, almost as if building on a fresh plane of land, whereas we have so much stuff already planted in the way by our own designs, nevermind the natural features of the land.

Why is it that the left can question even the most minute and irrelevant details f a conservative’s gameplan on anything, but fail to note the near political impossibility to complete anything successfully that follows the road of contradictory missions of the left?


Comment by Mike Lovell

Rail System in Europe ,Japan & other Asian countries is improving Trade & Travel.Massive Investments result in good returns & huge benefits.Let us not waste time in unnecessary negative thoughts,take positive steps to commence rail projects without delay.
Continuation of Deficit on account of Wars & Tax cuts will keep on adding to the ever increasing Americans below Poverty line.We need to provide work to Millions of Unemployed Americans & give them an oppotunity to get out from below poverty level.The Poor cannot solve Poverty by themselves.Surely Rich can Pay Taxes & need no relief.50% of Americans are earning below 30 thousand dollars.How many Americans are earning above one hundred thousand,150/200/250 thousand dollars?Congress may consider reduction of tax appropriately.The Americans above 250 hundred thousand dollars must learn to count their blessings & Thank God Almighty for His Grace.
Let America move forward & help Humanity to eradicate poverty ,living in Global Peace!


Comment by chander

There are no “good returns” from rail systems. They operate only with massive government subsidies. And one of the things our economy does not need is more government subsidies. The entire cost of the War in Iraq was less than President Obama spent in his first year in office, spending that was largely wasted. A quote from Thomas Sowell will suffice here: “What do the poor most need? They need to stop being poor. And how than that be done on a mass scale, except by an economy that creates more wealth? Yet the political left has long had a remarkable lack of interest in how wealth is created. As far as they are concerned, wealth exists”somehow” and the only interesting question is how to re-distribute it.” You do not help the poor with government subsidy. You make them dependent, and dependency is demeaning. You turn them from proud people striving to do better into peasants.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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