Sunday, October 26, 2008

It's Too Bad

It's too bad that in the current political climate our passenger railroads are not still run by private corporations. Do you see where we're going with this.

If Amtrak were a private corporation, all it would have to do - other than pay its executives scads of money to run it into the ground - would be to whine about how it is too big and important to the United States economy to fail. Bingo. The government would be buying up equity with taxpayer dollars and there would no longer be a question of getting appropriations in Congress.

With Congress ready to pour money into 1. banks; 2. insurance companies; and 3. anything else that moves and has assets to control, the freight railroads are already lining up at the door to the treasury. (We once had an uncle who used to do what Congress does to number 3, but we called it something different.)

It may bode well for rail infrastructure, but again we fall back on the questions: How far can government money go? How is all this going to happen without huge tax increases? If we are all out of a job, how are we going to pay taxes?

Neither candidate for president seems to have these answers.

We spend a lot of time worrying these days.

©2008 - C. A. Turek -

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Two Questions Redux

With the events of the past two weeks smoldering in our collective brains - or whats left of our brains after the political ads slam them against the wall with every television or radio break - we now know that we should not have asked, "Will there be any money left for Passenger Rail?" What we should have asked was, "Will there be any money left? Period."

Fact One: The current economic crisis and the resulting bailouts are spending taxpayer dollars that have to come from somewhere and that would otherwise have gone elsewhere.

Fact Two: The economic situation will tend to elect Democrats in four weeks.

Fact Three: Democrats have run on the promise of extensive spending programs to right the supposed wrongs of previous administrations.

Fact Four: Democrats have also established the balanced budget idea that says basically that no new spending will occur without taking money away from old projects.

Fact Five: Amtrak and Passenger Rail are not as politically sexy as road, bridges and airport facilities.

There will be huge temptation to take money away from Passenger Rail sooner than from other infrastructure projects. We hope it doesn't put a revived intercity rail system on the back burner just when it was starting to cook.

©2008 - C. A. Turek -