From the very start of this blog, I have taken the position that U.S. Passenger Rail is one of the few exceptions to the conservative free enterprise rule.
Rail is a mode of transportation that has always been too important to the economy and general well being of Americans to allow it solely to free enterprise. Witness the years that the feds have spent regulating railroads, first with antitrust action, next with the ICC, and now through the STB. Well, some things are also too important to leave Free Enterprise alone in the same room with. Passenger Rail is one of those things.
Unfortunately, instead of alone with Free Enterprise, via Amtrak, we have left Passenger Rail alone in the same room with Government Excess.
Why are there no compromise positions any more?
For two reasons: 1. Both the right and the left have decided that politics is no longer a system of compromise. 2. Under the banner of political principle, the voting populace has gone along with them.
Where are the people who can see the Constitution as one giant compromise of many different political points of view? It is a compromise that worked and that is still working. A similar compromise for Passenger Rail would require free enterprise to invest in Passenger Rail just as much as it would require government to give free enterprise a helping hand. The way I see it now, too much of the funding for Passenger Rail goes to government entities to spend. What is spent on private enterprise – and there appears to be a lot of it vying for the right to build new HSR infrastructure – is spent on government connected companies working under government specifications. This stifles innovation.
I am no more demanding that the government stop using tax money for transportation subsidies any more than I am asking private enterprise to fund new rail routes without tax money subsidies. I am hoping for that grand comprise – embodied by our Constitution – that will get us there in new and innovative ways. Without the political radicalism.
©2010 – C. A. Turek – email@example.com