Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Letter to Republican Elites from a Conservative Rail Enthusiast

Dear Republican Elites:

Passenger trains are not archaic dinosaurs that eat up public money that can be better used to cut the debt.  They are public conveniences, nay even necessities, that eat up public money in order to make the economy and our lives better.  Stop treating them as something to be cut from budgets or sold off to whatever idiot wants to buy them from Amtrak.  They are the most fuel efficient mode of mass transportation of human beings on the planet.  They are part of a comprehensive transportation policy that includes highways, buses, air and waterways.

Limited and constitutional government envisioned by conservatives does not automatically mean the curtailment of all public subsidy for transportation modes.  If it did, we would all be going back to horses, wagons, and private toll roads on private lands.  Limited and economical government does mean that public funds should not be used by the government to favor one mode of transportation to the exclusion of another, except for the purposes of national defense.

The Obama regime appears to have gotten passenger rail and high-speed rail right for all the wrong reasons. When stimulus money was rolled out, it didn't go to transportation as part of a comprehensive plan.  The regime wanted money to go to an industry that it perceived did or would employ labor union members who would vote Democratic.  The right reasons?  America needs more than one mode of transportation for people and their belongings that can meet the need to travel long distances in short times.  Airlines have met this need for years, but are becoming more inconvenient due to their vulnerability to attack, hijack, and conversion (to flying weapons) by any person or group of nefarious bent.  In fact, a comprehensive transportation plan for the rest of this century should envision a third mode, possibly high-speed commercial highways that are independent of rail and air travel.  I hate to say it, but with the advent of computerization, rail doesn't have to be the only so-called self-guiding mode out there.

Sequestration has made it clear that the Washington Elites, whether on the left or right, are only going to cut those things that will hurt the general public the most.  So it would not surprise me if Amtrak and commuter rail funding dries up.  It doesn't have to be that way.  Though the DOT is one of the leanest in Washington, it is still a bureaucracy.  If it's a government-run entity, there is still plenty of fat to be trimmed before we really need to curtail trains and transport, or let highway bridges crumble into rivers.

Lets wake up and get a clue.  Despite what liberals might profess, conservative does not have to equate with 'stupid.'

© 2013 - C. A. Turek -