Friday, May 15, 2015

Amtrak: Liberals Just Don’t Get It

After the tragic Amtrak rail crash on Tuesday May 12, liberals were first out of the gate blaming Republicans for the crash. You see, Republicans are proposing to cut about $200 million from Amtrak’s budget for 2016. QED.

The Wall Street Journal has a sensible editorial on how this makes no sense. And points out that, if the well-traveled northeast corridor weren’t subsidizing the rest of Amtrak then maybe there would be money for upgrading the signaling, etc.

Oh and by the way, the Journal reports, “Amtrak fares average about 34 cents per mile, versus 15 cents for domestic flights and about a quarter for cars.” Oh, and Amtrak has fares average about 34 cents per mile, versus 15 cents for domestic flights and about a quarter for cars.” Oh, and Amtrak has “so many legislatively mandated tasks and responsibilities” that it doesn’t know which end was up.

Hey, here’s an idea. How about we spin off the northeast corridor from the rest of Amtrak and let the northeast states make what they want of it?

This sort of thing, to me, just illustrates the problem with government. It all ends up as a fight for loot. It all comes down to who gets the government loot to, e.g., feed little children, fix crumbling infrastructure, or install positive train control, or fight racism, sexism and homophobia?

What liberals cannot get through their skulls is that almost everything is simply a paying proposition: “will it pay” to e.g., build a fast and safe northeast rail corridor? If it is then profit-oriented businessmen will build it and run it and make a profit. If not, then why waste the resources on this fragile planet just to appease some powerful special interest.

Oh yes, you say. But passenger rail in a crowded urban corridor is different. It can never pay for itself. The only way is by government subsidy.

But if the only way is government subsidy then we are talking about politics and government where the majority wins and the most powerful interest gets the money. I’d say that this is not a good time for liberals to argue this line because chances are that we’ll have Republicans running Congress for the next decade and they won’t be wanting to spend money on liberals.

If you want government to do it, then you are saying, let’s resolve this by force. And if you end up on the losing side, too bad for you.

That is what capitalism is born to do. It is here to allow change to happen without the say-so of the ruling class. It does not depend on the support of the powerful; it does not pretend to be helping the oppressed. It merely asks “will it pay?” and acts accordingly. It does not require that you get a majority of the votes in Congress before you can do anything. It just says: if you think you can make money on this, go for it.

And if it turns out that it doesn’t pay, then too bad for the stockholders and the bondholders. The taxpayer gets off scot free. That is, unless well-connected liberals come along and demand that the failing corporation gets bailed out “in the national interest.”

I like to say that the only thing that government can do is declare war: on fascism, on ignorance, on want, on bigotry, on the dangerous state run by the thug dictator next door.

What government cannot do is run a business, delivering consumers a service, responding to their individual needs as creatively and flexibly as possible. It’s not the fault of individual government leaders or individual bureaucrats when government fails to do that; it’s just that government is force, and it can’t do things that don’t require force.

But that is what liberals refuse to learn. But why should they care; it's not their money.

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