Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

The great age of trains — the 19th century — spawned a few amazing political careers, not excluding the railway lawyer, Abraham Lincoln. Many major railroads depended on moving politicians first, earth and iron second.

More than ever, today’s passenger rail lines are creatures of the state. Amtrak loses money, and could only be successful as a private operation were politicians able to let its unprofitable lines go.

Congress insists, instead, on putting up more money-losing railways in as many places as possible. President Obama even tried to get a bullet train put through between Tampa and Orlando, despite the fact that the two Florida cities were too close to each other for a super-fast train to make any sense.

Worse for the bullet was the politics.

In 2000, Floridians had voted in high-speed monorail; in 2004, they voted in greater numbers to kill their own project. Voters realized that, with politicians in charge, railroad projects tended to go runaway.

Perhaps that helped convince Rick Scott, the new governor, to reject the federal government’s offer to pay $2.4 billion of a $2.6 billion bullet train. The billions of “free money” that the Obama Administration promised began to seem, well, costly.

So, of course, the federal government sued. In early March, a Florida court ruled that the governor did indeed have the power to tell the feds to play with trains elsewhere.

A minor victory for railway sanity. A major victory for federalism.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor

3 Comments

  1. Drik says:

    Not only is it unconstitutional for the imperialist federal government to seize funds to build unwanted railroads, it is also not specified as an enumerated power of the government for them to then sue the state.
    Someone is violating their oath of office and not being held accountable.
    Old Chicago Mafia saying: the fish stinks from the head.

  2. Paul Jacob says:

    Ahhh, Drik, there you go again! Draggin’ out that ol’ Constitution as if it were still relevant.

    Seriously, the two things that give me most hope are (a) the return of the word “freedom” as a political value and goal (even the public employee protesters in Madison had signs that said “Freedom!”, and (b) a heightened attention to the Constitution that has too often been ignored by those in power.

  3. S Rubicon says:

    There “might” be good reasons & perfect applications for improved train services & operations, including bullet or high speed rail.
    Each line should have to financially justify its construction, repairs, operations, & in fact, its very existence. That is EACH line. From Washington to Newark. From Dallas to Austin. From St Louis to San Fransico. No matter. If you cannot produce a real financial justification, including some speculation on ridership, then why would we commit to operating, maintaing, building or even thinking about trains as a means of transportaion.
    Many want the car to go away. they see it as the reason we have had expansion. Guess what? It is! And we want significantly more of it. In fact, we want our roads for auto’s to be the very best in the world, bar none!
    Trains, meaning Amtrack, are a joke today. Only the high speed line from DC to NYC is making money or real money. The rest are subsidized by taxpayers. Why?
    If we have to pay out to keep it going, I suggest we open up BUS routes & do away with expensive trains.

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