Tuesday, February 08, 2011

53 billion for high speed rail

The administration just doesn't get it! At a time when unemployment is still very high, many homeowners are "underwater," oil prices are projected to hit $4.00 this summer (assuming that things don't go south in Egypt--a BIG assumption) and the national debt is through the roof---the Obama administration just announced a plan to spend 53 billion dollars on high-speed rail!

If I didn't now better, I would think they are deliberately trying to destroy the American economy!


Kevin said...

Thoughts on this:

In light of our national debt Biden's tagline "seize the future" might be better stated as "foreclose on the future" or "reposes the future".

Infrastructure investments are important and are different then bailouts if the infrastructure investment has real potential of creating economic opportunities.

Off the top of head I would guess that high speed trains would allow people to work in cities without have to live in them, thereby reducing their costs of living by enabling them to purchase cheaper housing. I guess this could facilitate some business transactions. But since Amtrak just loses money and planes aren't that expensive and the Internet is enabling people to work together and do business together without having to be in the same physical location I have to wonder if this isn't seizing an idea from th e past.

Take the money and offer huge tax incentives to Internet infrastructure companies to roll out ultra high speed Internet (cable and wi-fi) across the country. Create programs to get Internet access into every facet of our society. The poorest people should be able to get access to the Internet. The trade-off is that companies taking the subsidies have to be network service neutral for 15 years (or some other extended period).

I suspect pervasive affordable high-speed Internet would do amazing things to stimulate the economy all across the country by continuing to open up American businesses to a global market and by allowing businesses to be based anywhere, not just massive cities. This plan also enables access to the educational resources available online.

Japan's system has multiple competing rail companies. So stop giving Amtrak a monopoly first. Second, give tax breaks for rail or eliminate red-tape to getting the rail built... but don't give monopolies or allow the government to decide where the rail goes. If the government decides it's a political decision not an economic one.

I thought this was the kind of thing that $1 Trillion slush fund/stimulas mess was supposed to take care of.

Dennis said...

Excellent post! I heard someone say that this rail idea might be a great campaign idea....if President Obama were running for president in the 1800's!