Paul Ryan, Romney’s VP Pick, Has A Long Anti-HSR Record

Aug 11th, 2012 | Posted by

Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin member of Congress who is best known for his budget proposal that would privatize Social Security and gut Medicare, was announced this morning as Mitt Romney’s Vice Presidential nominee. Ryan’s hostility to federal spending predictably extends to passenger rail and high speed rail in particular.

Ryan has repeatedly voted against Amtrak and rail authorizations. He stood by Wisconsin governor Scott Walker as he attempted to use that state’s HSR funds for road projects, calling HSR “a bad investment for taxpayers”. His budget would, unsurprisingly, defund high speed rail completely.

His House Committee on the Budget has denounced the California high speed rail project in strong terms, giving it a “budget boondoggle award” in June 2011.

A Romney-Ryan Administration, then, would guarantee no federal HSR funds for at least another four years. They would likely defund Amtrak entirely, leaving California to foot the bill for passenger rail service all on its own. On the other hand, President Obama has been a staunch advocate of more funding for high speed rail. The two tickets could not be more different on the issue if they tried.

  1. Paul Druce
    Aug 11th, 2012 at 11:45
    #1

    They would likely defund Amtrak entirely, leaving California to foot the bill for passenger rail service all on its own.

    That’s already entailed by the law, PRIIA 209 requires that the states foot the bill for all service less than 750 miles that isn’t the NEC, should be effective this in FY13 or 14 I believe.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Yes and no.

    Ryan would likely defund even the long distance routes as well which would add costs to the State because of the maintenance yards that are shared between the shorter routes and the cross country trains.

    Also, a loss of the long distance trains would eliminate the only service by rail between the Bay Area and Los Angeles currently.

    Now you might say, “so what”? But remember HSR is still years away and if the state spins off services to the county…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If Illinois and Missouri step in and decide to build a corridor route on the carcasses of the Southwest Chief, I’ll call it a win.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Those maintenance yards serve one to two long distance trains per day and dozens of corridor trains. It’s a meaningless addition to costs.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    No, because the recipient of the Amtrak contract is going to own those maintenance yards and will drive a high price for the State supported services to use them. The goal is not to eliminate Amtrak, it’s to have contractors operate the routes using scab labor (Veolia etc.) and then keep the trains running.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Oh please. They’ll be competing with Bombardier right next door when it comes to maintenance contracts, not to mention anyone else who will bid.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Care to elaborate what you mean by that? Bombardier has a maintenance yard in Oakland?

    Paul Druce Reply:

    In LA.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I could be wrong, but I believe that Amtrak’s major maintenance yard is in Oakland. LA can do some manner of repairs, given what’s happening to Taylor Yard might be sold off if privatization happened.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Amtrak’s major maintenance yard is in Beech Grove Illinois. Or Bear Delaware depending on what needs to be done, what work is already going on etc.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I think this is manner of semantics. I believe that the majority of repairs done in California are at the Oakland yard. Of course I am not surprised that there’s a national facility for the most serious maintenance work.

  2. Jo
    Aug 11th, 2012 at 12:35
    #2

    Romney needed to pick someone who would have attracted moderates. Instead he picks someone with extremely regressive views whose supporters were going to vote Romney anyway, will hurt Romney more than it will help him. Bizarre choice.

    joe Reply:

    Yes I agree he needs moderates but remember Romney is the moderate and hated by the party’s base.

    Ryan is the GOP’s poster boy.

    VBobier Reply:

    Ryans hated by everyone else, Only conservatives like Him.

    Vote only for Democrats and Obama/Biden on November 6th 2012…

    joe Reply:

    Ryan’s loved my our media who want to know who is adult enough to tell the American people that they need to sacrifice and feel some pain to balance the budget.

    The media will back Ryan. He’ll get a pass because it is so unfair that politician’s cannot cut entitlements to save security and defense spending and cut taxes.

    VBobier Reply:

    Oh yeah, cut grannys and the disabled collective throats to increase spending on defense, watch the economy go to hell in a bank vault, while the top 1% get huge tax cuts that they don’t want or need…

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Romney was never supposed to win. The GOP wanted someone who could afford to self-fund his own campaign against an incumbent…it was him and maybe Bloomberg. The key is that as demographics shift this decade, the GOP has plenty of good candidates like say Susana Martinez, Bobby Jindal, etc… who can get votes in the America that is coming, where whites are not the majority and the Boomers aren’t the biggest political bloc.

    Picking Ryan affirms the GOP’s new strategy, which relies less heavily on whites and religious voters and instead is about “realignment” of having states do more and the federal government do less. A lot less.

    VBobier Reply:

    That and vote rigging in states with Repugnican Governors and Repugnican dominated legislatures, like in Ohio where in Democratic areas the time to vote is 8am to 5pm, yet in Repugnican areas the time to vote has been expanded, which is one reason why Obama is suing to allow everyone to vote as early as Ohioans used to vote at…

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Republicans allegedly worried that the Ryan choice and the tax cuts arguments are going to cost them the election:

    http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/08/11/678701/fox-news-pundits-wonder-if-republicans-can-defend-tax-cuts-for-the-wealthy-with-ryan-on-the-ticket/

    Romney complains that Obama doesn’t have adequate private business experience. Turns out Ryan may have considerably less experience than Obama:

    http://thinkprogress.org/election/2012/08/11/677261/paul-ryan-qualified/

    Romney managed to upset Ohio veterans and Catholic nuns by speaking falsely about things like a lawsuit to restore voting rights in Ohio, and a reduction in aid for people who work, allegedly demonizing the poor, even when they have jobs.

    http://thinkprogress.org/election/2012/08/10/676711/viewpoint-romney-angers-veterans-and-nuns/

    The last bit strikes me as strange, and makes me question the judgement of Romney and the Republican party in general. There are many things that one may disagree with in regard to this or any other president. Sometimes these may even be over serious issues. However, if you are going to disagree with someone about something, make sure what you say about your opponent’s position is accurate. Especially today, with some amazing research that can be accomplished on the internet, it is easy to find out exactly what you may be talking about, and whether it’s true or not, or whether it makes sense or not. It doesn’t do any good to lie; it’s too easy to get caught these days, at least in a high-profile position like that of a presidential candidate.

    Lying or otherwise not being accurate in your assessments makes you look like a crook or a fool.

  3. J. Wong
    Aug 11th, 2012 at 12:54
    #3

    Romney was losing the election and he had to do something dramatic. So picking Paul Ryan is dramatic because he has a plan, but the only problem is that most people when told the details of that plan, disapprove of it.

    For those of you who don’t know, the Ryan plan is to save the U.S. from becoming Greece by implementing austerity and tax cuts so that the U.S. will become Greece.

    joe Reply:

    Ryan’s a self made man.

    Public high school.
    Public university.
    Worked for family business.
    Congressional staffer, with service jobs for additional money.
    Speechwriter for Jack Kemp.
    Staffer for Sam Brownback.
    Member of Congress.

    That’s a libertarian is I ever saw one: Hypocritical and unashamed.

    VBobier Reply:

    And He doesn’t care one bit who He hurts in His Lame budgets, 26-33% cuts to SSI, NASA(cut, maybe repealed), repeal of Social Security, EPA(cut), FDA, FCC, DOE, etc, etc…

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    There needs to be some revamping of the agencies. Getting completely rid of them no. There are legislative mandates such as a certain amount of corn must be used for ethanol. That has created artifical demand which is why corn prices keep going up where as the market could instead choose not to buy and go with the most efficient item. Similarly, the reason corn syrup is used in soda is because we put in price supports on sugar. I think the government should allow sugar to set it’s own market price and let the market decide to use natural instead of artifical sweeteners.

    That is where the government needs to get out of, stifling competition. However, like with the FCC, there needs to be regulations that permit me or anyone else from using a cable company’s wire to access another cable company’s service. That would open up telecommunications competition to allow many more providers instead of just 4 options. In Britain, it worked well in increasing wireline business profits and consumers now have much faster speeds, still unlimited bandwidth, and affordable pricing.

    I like the idea of freeing up social security and allowing myself to invest the money myself whether it be a CD, IRA, Money Market, etc and make it a deduction on my taxes rather than it just sit around. The EPA does need some reworkings. Certain EPA regulations have ended up causing other areas of pollution. I am not able to identifiy those at this time but I have had an accquaintance won an award because of the finding.

    The FDA, let us say someone has cancer and they are not given much time to live, but a new drug has just completed testing and you could try it. The FDA will stand in the way and say no because it is experimental. That should be the decision left up to the patient and the doctor, not the FDA.

    Again, rework the system, there are agencies needed for this stuff, but they have gotten too invasive.

    VBobier Reply:

    Agreed on corn(sugar beets or switch grass would be better for ethanol production), the syrup(drop price supports, aka subsidies), keep the FCC I agree, EPA could be reformed to be more realistic as to what can be accomplished. Agreed on the FDA. On SSA I disagree as Social Security invests that money in Tbills which are safe, as there is no guarantee on IRA’s, Money Markets or the Stock Market which is Privatization, G.W. Bush wanted that, It failed then to gather traction. I’m also against SSI being capped, made into Block Grants for the States to administer at the states cost and cut by 26-33% as peoples lives depend on that money, those people are either Seniors or the Blind or Disabled People, I get SSI which is Supplemental Security Income, not Social Security Income, I’m disabled and unable to work, I can barely do anything without great difficulty, I sure didn’t become disabled to get a check, breaking a leg(no rehab either as I have joint problems in both legs) and having disabilities that I was born with are not something I can be faulted with, plus I’m over 400lbs, I’m 52 years old, white(I can trace My ancestry to 1770 Ireland before the trail goes cold), I have no one to live with, nor any real family that could take Me and My Cat in(She’s My family now), that 33% would take $230.34 from My $698.00($854.40 with the CA capped SSP check) and My checks buying power would shrink year after year and be $624.06 a month, If CA could even administer what’s left of SSI(a NEW unfunded mandate), CA is not an inexpensive place to live and I don’t get Food Stamps as no one who gets SSI in CA gets Food Stamps due to a dispute between the USDA/SSA and the state of CA. I wouldn’t be able to buy new clothes, repair My car, this Ryan 2013 House Budget is a piece of Filthy Trash to be burned in an incinerator…
    as I’d

    joe Reply:

    “That has created artifical demand which is why corn prices keep going up where as the market could instead choose not to buy and go with the most efficient item. ”

    And what pray tell would that alternative item (crop) be? It’s got to be something real, not a theory. Wheat?

    “I like the idea of freeing up social security and allowing myself to invest the money myself whether it be a CD, IRA, Money Market, etc and make it a deduction on my taxes rather than it just sit around.”

    Strange comment. You can save tax deferred savings so you probably are not saving that much! We save, between us, 38K a year in tax deferred savings 401/403K. We also pay into SS and need it to manage market risk.

    Derek thinks he will earn 8% compounded interest. What do you fantasize will be your rate of return be and exactly how are you going to beat the market and protect your savings form the banks?

    SS is a hedge against a massive slump in the market or legalized fraud. Banks get bonuses if the market goes up or down. Put away the max in a 401K and invest in exotic, high return products. See what you get after 30 years.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The alternative crop would be food. You know, what people eat, as opposed to what cars eat.

    joe Reply:

    Which food? I’m curious which crop would be more cost effective than corn. I don;t know of any but it’s interesting to see economics jump in and explain away problems – magic marketplace.

    So we switch grains – what says the equipment can process a different crop.

    VBobier Reply:

    Switch Grass is better is closer to Sugar Cane and can be grown in North America, Sugar Beets is a bit more well known and can be grown in the USA, but is not as good as Switch Grass or Sugar Cane, plus Beets are a Food Crop…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Any food. Could be wheat, could be corn for feed, could be whatever farmers want to grow and people want to eat.

    It’s interesting to see Americans jump in and explain a completely artificial world food crisis that they’ve created as some Very Serious Problem.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The rising corn price and the promotion of the food vs fuel debate is a division of interests between large monoculture corn growers and large monoculture confined anime feeders. They agree on subsidizing the large monoculture corn growers when corn prices are low ~ as opposed to price maintenance, since so-called “price support” payments do not, in fact, support prices, but rather support incomes in the face of low prices …
    … but disagree on policy in the face of high corn prices, which deliver windfall gains to big monoculture corn growers and put strain on large monoculture confined animal feeders.

    With corporations with a stake on each side of that debate, that debate enters the public sensorium. The debate against policies that subsidize large corporate monoculture agriculture, they both are opposed to that, so that remains a debate that is out in the fringes.

    flowmotion Reply:

    > large monoculture confined anime feeders

    aka 4chan

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t know how much this is on the fringe, when both international human rights groups and neo-liberals agree that the first world needs to end all agricultural subsidies.

    joe Reply:

    It’s mainstream – like massive unemployment, entitlement cuts, massive student debt and other shocks that are good for the masses.

    People are soft – our leaders and great thinkers have plans to toughen us all up.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Actually, a surprising number of the biggest opponents of first-world farm subsidies oppose all of those. The UN Development Report people are not neo-liberals. And most neo-liberals – Summers, DeLong, Williamson, etc. – do not support austerity today.

    joe Reply:

    DeLong is a neo-liberal?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    He calls himself a “card-carrying neo-liberal” frequently (Google the phrase with his name), he’s published papers with Summers and criticized Stiglitz, he strongly opposed Obama’s tire tariffs on China, and his theory of economic history emphasizes limited government and the rule of law as engines of economic growth.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    On the fringe of policy making. Its been a standard neoliberal argument to cut subsidies to agriculture before the US ever established the system to subsidize the establishment and operation of large confined animal feed operations.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Don’t forget inheritance from Ryan’s mother in-law:
    Paul Ryan Rich From Investments, Inheritance

    Mitt Romney’s newly announced running mate reported assets in the range of $2 million to $7.7 million. The largest was the interest that his wife, Janna, holds in a trust resulting from the 2010 death of her mother, Prudence Little. Her interest in the trust falls in the range of $1 million to $5 million, Ryan reported.

  4. MarkB
    Aug 11th, 2012 at 14:49
    #4

    Meanwhile, they’re dancing in the aisles at Obama HQ.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    No, hardened battle operatives won’t do that unless unemployment drops to 5% magically. But they are very pleased that Romney picked someone who they can draw such a sharp contrast to.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’m getting old. I can remember when, if unemployment rose to 5%, there was much consternation on both sides of the aisle.
    I’m also old enough to remember that the last Republican president to balance the budget was Eisenhower.
    And remember the conversations everybody was having about what the effect of eliminating the Federal Debt in 2011 or 2012 would be.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    That’s all true, but nothing will give the Obamanuts cause for celebration except a lower unemployment rate….

    joe Reply:

    Clinton balanced the budget.

    http://www.factcheck.org/2008/02/the-budget-and-deficit-under-clinton/

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    the last Republican was Eisenhower.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I don’t know about you, but I think Clinton was one of the best Republican Presidents of the 20th century.

    joe Reply:

    Obama is going to be a better Republican President than Clinton.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Not if he wins a second term. Obama’s people figured out that Clinton’s mistake was to swing for the fences early, and then do small ball later.

    Obama has been triangulating early, so that once he’s a lame duck he can leave it on the field. Watch it happen.

    Paul H. Reply:

    I hope he does leave it on the field in his second term. We need somebody to get fucking REAL with the American public. We’ve been lying to ourselves for decades. Leadership right now would be someone telling us what we don’t want to hear but what needs to be said to keep this society from drowning in its own shit. Address climate change, address oil depletion, and address the debt-based dollar. It’ll take balls, and given a choice between Romney or Obama, I’d take Obama to have the balls to do it. He risked his entire presidency on killing Bin Laden, you screw that up and its over. He did that. That took guts and we’ll need that in the next four years. Some shit will be hitting the fan. The writing is on the wall: things will get worse before it gets better. And when shit does hit the fan who would you rather have in the office: Obama or Romney?

    joe Reply:

    I see little correlation.

    Obama is a conservative Dem. He wants to cut entitlements – just a little.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Which may well be, but as a Hedge Fund Democrat, the fences that he’s going to be swinging for are not what a progressive would be swinging for.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Barack will likely move slightly to the right on the economy, following Bill Clinton’s advice(retain tax cuts to all the wealthy, etc.)and hope the stock market will stay happy-clappy.

    What remains unaffected by power changes at the top is the percentage of the population in total disagreement on social issues with kumbaya. They have reached the point of unsubscribing to the nanny social contract. To them kumbaya is l’ancien regime. They would not oppose something on the order of a coup.

    Add to them the street gang and banger types who have no concept of what a social contract is and would laugh at it if they did and you have a much more volatile and unstable country than most realize.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s not really unsubscribing from any contract. It’s simpler than that. Generation Greed’s social leaders are grabbing what they can. Ryan’s plan retains Medicare for people who are 55+ today; it’s the rest of us who are going to have to deal with inferior private systems. Union leaders accept two-tiered wage structures, and retain their seniority system with its perks. Business leaders are convincing everyone to invest in the no-longer undervalued stock market, promising great returns, where in reality all this does is bolster existing companies’ access to capital. And the deficit hawks always close the deficit on the back of younger people, not older people. They do not say the US should default on Social Security now; they always say future benefits should be cut, for people who are not already 65.

    jimsf Reply:

    And why the arbitrary 54 age cutoff. so those in their 40s now, and even in their 30s, only have a short time to make alternate plans. There are no options. And most people do not make enough money to invest for retirement on their own. And what do you do, when its all said and done, with the 30, 40 50 million or more americans who wind up not providing for their old age? Just leave them on the street to die?

    No doub there will be a lucrative and shady private market for both crappy insurance and shoddy old folks hovels, that will prey on these people, sucking them dry of their last nickels why they lay in lice infested beds in their own urine.

    that is the future that the republican party is fine and dandy with.

    The republican party is pure evil. Absolute scum.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    A lot of the Tea Party impetus is cultural. It’s not about reducing the size of government; it’s about reducing government programs that go to Those People. It makes every bit of sense that white native-born seniors who are used to the demographics of 40 years ago and protest with signs like “Señor citizens get free health care, senior citizens can go to hell” will want to eliminate benefits to younger people.

    jimsf Reply:

    The baby boomers have been a big fat pain in the ass for their entire existince, from their spoiled childhoods, to their obnoxious teen years in the 60s, to drug and alcohol unduce overindulgence in the 70s ( remember it even had a name – the “me generation”) to their selling out during the reagan years and ever since. apparantly they have every intention of being said pains in the ass until they day they die, clutching everything they can grab on the way out.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Rest assured, Jim.

    The Baby Boomerz are in for a big surprise if they think that the people they trust (Wall Street, free markets, etc.) are going to be there for them in the end. Goldman Sachs doesn’t take any prisoners.

    VBobier Reply:

    Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford & Bush Sr were the last of the real Republicans, from Reagan on We get Libertarian garbage with a theocratic 19th Century bent…

    Vote only for Democrats and Obama/Biden on November 6th 2012…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Richard Nixon signed the legislation creating Amtrak.
    Eisenhower was heard to say unkind things about the military.
    Ford actually talked to Democrats now and then.
    and Bush Sr., raised taxes. which is heresy in today’s Republican party.

    All them would be denounced as Communists bent on making us all live in collectives by today’s Republicans. Except Saint Ronnie who even though he did things like raise taxes could do no wrong.

    VBobier Reply:

    Nixon also signed SSI into Federal Law back in 1972, that’s Supplemental Security Income, which Ryan wants to cut current benefits by 26-33%, cap, make into State Administered Block Grants which are unfunded mandates to administer the block grants which would have no strings attached, SSA does a very good job, yet Repugnicans want a return to pre FDR type of Government, More Hooverism… They don’t like Civil Rights or Voting Rights laws or EPA rules(no clean water or air for US, only for those that can afford it) or Food Stamps, Unemployment benefits, welfare to work training, supplemental security income(If one is unable to work cause their disabled through no fault of their own, one is seen as a lazy bum, who should get no help), wanting to sharply reduce the USDA or eliminate it out right, etc, etc…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Don’t overplay Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex speech. He said that after he was President; when he was in the White House, he kept military spending very high and engaged in various small-scale military adventures.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/9556.html#email

    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
    Dwight D. Eisenhower, From a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Okay, so even when he was in the White House, he pretended to be anti-war. The actual behavior of the US at the time suggests either he was lying or he had no control over foreign policy.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.
    Dwight D. Eisenhower

    Can’t find an date for it though.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I couldn’t find an absolute date, but it apparently dates back to at least 1952 (third paragraph):

    http://mic-at-50.net/background.html

    Other quotations; as noted above, one wonders how often Eisenhower’s ideals would be compromised, either by belief or by perceived necessity:

    http://www.military-quotes.com/Eisenhower.htm

    Ah, found the date–January 10, 1946, before the Canadian Club in Ottawa (scroll down to the subject of “War/Defense”):

    http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/all_about_ike/quotes.html

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Do you remember the “a vote vote here, a vote vote there, a vote for Stevenson everywhere” ads?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Alon, you’re good!! I didn’t remember them, but thanks to your suggestion and that wonderful invention of Al Gore called the Inter-net, I found a time machine for that!!

    http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1952/lets-not-forget-the-farmer

    Another ad for Stevenson in 1952; wonder how a new version of this would play in today’s “Christians against the world” climate?

    http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1952/the-same-god-made-us-all

    synonymouse Reply:

    That’s nonsense – I remember the Eisenhower era very well. It was a profoundly conservative and conformist period. It wasn’t until years later that I understood what Joseph Welch was really getting at when he asked Joe McCarthy: “Have you no shame?” They ousted him on personal “issues”, not political.

    It was a time when driving a sports car could arouse questions of whether one was a commie.

    Go back and listen to some Lennie Bruce routines. Especially “Religions Incorporated”. Seems tame by todays’ standards but absolutely incendiary and scandalous at the time.

    Remember by the time Eisenhower make his military industrial complex remark McCarthy was gone, no longer threatening the military.

    nick Reply:

    why would a commie drive a sports car ? a lada maybe lol

    synonymouse Reply:

    In the early fifties the only sports cars were European, definitely suspect. The mood lightened with Khruschev’s visit(dunno about that spelling)and McCarthy’s fall from favor; and Detroit finally started to try to do a sportscar. If I remember right the very first Corvettes were l-head 6′s with 3-on-the-tree transmissions. Detroit did not have a clue then.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I remember the Eisenhower era very well. It was a profoundly conservative and conformist period.

    I thought you were born in ’46? That would have made you, what seven years old when Eisenhower took office?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Born in 1944.

    I remember watching the Army-McCarthy hearings on tv, ditto for the conventions that nominated Eisenhower and Stevenson. I was about the only one in junior high in the fall of 1956 weariang “I’m Madly for Adlai” and “We Need Adlai Badly” buttons. Everybody else had “I Like Ike” buttons.

    Remember when they announced the electrocution of the Rosenbergs. My political leanings wer still in formation but I do recall realizing in a very visceral way this government is capable of almost anything when it feels threartened.

    John Burrows Reply:

    If I remember right there were a lot of smiles at Bush headquarters when the Democrats nominated Clinton—Obama should take Ryan very seriously.

    And then there was the election of President Dewey in 1948

    Tony D. Reply:

    Obama should take all the wing-nuts seriously. That said, you really think independents and centrist are going to lean R&R when they plan on throwing them under a bus in the naming of giving rich folks tax cuts? This moderate says HELL NO! Thank you twitt for making Obamas serious job a lot easier..

    John Burrows Reply:

    I sincerely hope that you are right.

  5. Derek
    Aug 11th, 2012 at 14:54
    #5

    It’s unfortunate that neither side cares about costs-benefits analyses. This is why we have budget problems, no matter who’s in office.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah more tax cuts for the top 1% of income, Tax increases to those below $200,000 a year in income…

    All from Ryans 2013 Budget…

    A budget so bad that even Catholic Nuns dislike His Lame ass 2013 budget…

    joe Reply:

    Better put… Derek’s completely wrong.

    The cost-benefit analysis is done perfectly and results clearly communicated by lobbyists and donations to the political parties. Who doesn’t think the wealthiest families cannot pick up a phone and reach their Senator?

    Derek’s mistaken in thinking he’s part of the benefits analysis. Dude you are a cost.

    VBobier Reply:

    If one has multi millions and want something in return for a campaign contribution, one gets attention, so far Democrats have received corporate money, but not from Conservatives Corporations, some paint Corporations as a Corporation, both Repugnicans and Democrats have received money for their campaigns, yet only Repugnicans have tried to hurt people through unemployment benefits, attempted cuts to Social Security, Food Stamps, Medicare, Medicaid(Medi-Cal in CA), obstructing the President since 2008 in one way or another, there’s one right wing wacko who has a bill in Congress to Repeal every Democratic type bill from FDR onwards, this must not happen.

  6. Reedman
    Aug 11th, 2012 at 19:12
    #6

    If passenger rail paid for itself, Ryan wouldn’t have an issue with it. The solution is simple: set the fares to cover the expenses, and set the expenses to match the fares.

    Joey Reply:

    Start by tolling freeways to cover their expenses.

    VBobier Reply:

    Oh Ryan & His ilk won’t dare do that, He’d upset His/their campaign bribery racket, aka the KOCH brothers…

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    The solution is simple: set the fares to cover the expenses, and set the expenses to match the fares.

    That’s sort of difficult to do when a major expense with Amtrak is the railroad pension costs of NON-Amtrak employees. Long distance rail services already are run at cost. And the federal government in theory is going to stop subsidizing state-service routes in FY 13.

    However, Joey’s dream is coming true. The Bush Administration tried to encourage high occupancy lanes to accept toll paying passengers buy dangling extra money out there. And while the current President could have cancelled the program, he hasn’t….

    jimsf Reply:

    railroads and railroad employees pay for railroad retirement. we pay a two tier tax, one, the equivalent of the social security tax that everyone pays, and a secone tax, to fund RRB. If you drop out before being fully vested you forfiet what you paid into RRb and the social securty amount converts back to your SS benifits like everyone else.

    By the way someone above suggested it would be better to let folks invest in their own investments and forego social security. That would be madness. with the number of americans who don’t make enough to invest, and the number of americans who are too irresponsible to invest, don’t know how to invest, or have any number of other issues, to destroy a gauranteed safety net would leave millions and millions of americans homeless and destitute in old age.

    We can well afford to give everyone basic health care, as a nation and we can well afford to keep people housed and fed. And to suggest otherwise is ignorant and arrogant.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But Jim, instead of the nanny state taking your money and guaranteeing you a benefit they want the free and open market to force you to use the money you would have paid in OASDI and Medicare and invest it. In places like this new energy company, Enron, that is making money hand over fist…Or maybe the sure bet of Lehman Brothers. How about a little World Com for some balance? Then there’s the ones who are convinced that when the Second Coming comes they will be able to Fed Ex their gold to any address…

    joe Reply:

    . That would be madness. with the number of americans who don’t make enough to invest, and the number of americans who are too irresponsible to invest, don’t know how to invest, or have any number of other issues, to destroy a gauranteed safety net would leave millions and millions of americans homeless and destitute in old age.”

    1) They are free to invest in tax deferred savings. They just have to pay into SS. If the SS tax is too much then the odds they could save SS and invest enough to retire is low.

    2) SS is not an investment – it is an insurance policy.

    3) Please do not forget to add the banks and their rigged money skimming system. Pensions underfunded and cities going bankrupt typically lost money in our financial system.

    Has MF Global returned the investor money they illegally used for high risk currency trading?

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    You aren’t contradicting what I said. Disbursements from the RRB are part of Amtrak’s appropriation. Payments in are counted as revenue. The major point is that Amtrak’s budget isn’t 100% about breaking even on operating costs….

    Reedman Reply:

    In Obama’s 2012 Budget proposal, the Railroad Retirement Board will receive a subsidy of $6.95 billion. There are about 600k beneficiaries, which works out to a taxpayer annual subsidy of about $11,500 per beneficiary.

    Derek Reply:

    set the fares to cover the expenses

    Since when are prices for anything set to cover expenses?

    If you price above the market, people won’t buy it, and you lose money. If you price below the market, you’ll run out of product, and lose money. Therefore, the optimal solution is to price right at the market, whether it makes money or not.

    If you want prices to cover expenses, the solution is to restrict supply, and only then price accordingly.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And drop the massive subsidies to road transport.

    Insisting that rail is unsubsidized while road transport is massively subsidized is clearly a policy in service to entrenched vested interests, and the Ryan budget only makes modest changes to the total subsidy to road transport.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is your own stimulus heroes who are pushing “massive subsidies to road transport”. The 3 crones, for instance. Boxer for decades been delivering funding for more freeway lanes in Marin County, contracted to the Ghilotti Bros.

    Roads are popular with the electorate, like it or not. It is part of political reality, just like Douchetown dictating Brown’s transport decisions.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    So on CAHSR routing you are all “X is efficient, Y is inefficient, these politicians are just doing Y for political reasons”, but when it comes to road its, “it doesn’t matter what’s efficient and effective transport policy, it only matters what the electorate likes”.

    jimsf Reply:

    when one claims that a project or routing is “political”…. I just have to laugh. DUH, of course its political. We live in a democracy. Our local representatives have to answer to constituencies.
    People act like, “oh the routing was political motivated” really? imagine that! people in a democracy demanding service for their tax dollars.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Vill-ovich constituency effectively amounts to one: Tejon Ranch Co. Some democracy.

  7. Alon Levy
    Aug 11th, 2012 at 19:51
    #7

    Off-topic: so the MSM finally discovered that at present prices non-conventional oil is profitable and oil companies are extracting it at ever higher pace.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/10/us/10iht-letter10.html?_r=4&smid=tw-share

    I recommend investing in private security companies in Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Nigeria, and maybe also in West Bengal. Tens of millions of climate refugees works out to a lot of people to shoot.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    see, and you were worried that gas was going to go to $10 a gallon. Plenty of oil around.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not sure whether “you” refers to me or to liberals in general, but I was not predicting $10 a gallon, at least not for any future transportation planning purposes. In one post I did assume $20 a gallon just as a thought experiment but that was to establish that the effect on freight transportation would be small, not that it would be catastrophic.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Alon’s original link didn’t work (it went to a subscription page), so I had to “shoot blind” and hope this is it:

    http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/15/guest-column-yes-oil-prices-are-cyclical/

    I wouldn’t be too optimistic about the supply, though. Just because it’s available doesn’t mean it’s affordable–and that’s the same as running out.

    I’ll let some of the following commentors elaborate (and how I wish people would capitalize and punctuate correctly!):

    *****************************************

    sas nyc

    “Yes, Oil Prices Are Cyclical.”

    as long as you permanently remove the cycles of ‘boom’ and ‘normal healthy economy’ from the list of possible ‘cycles’ i guess the author is correct. but the new ‘normall’ economy seems to be ‘cycling’ between ‘recession’, ‘depression’ and ‘catastrophic economic meltdown’.

    would this be true if oil prices had not doubled — twice — in the last decade? if oil prices were $12/barrel, or even $25/barrel? i think not.

    the author has mistaken consequences (sluggish economy, new technology) for cause (new normal oil price range that permanently constrains economic activity).

    yes, oil prices may be cyclical — but the cycle is now occurring at a price range that is twice or four times the ‘range’ in which the world economy can function without seizing entirely.

    if oil prices ever do come down to a range of $12 to $25/barrel again, it will only be because economic activity has devolved to that of the stone age.

    ************************************************

    stanton braverman Charlottesville

    Yes there is a lot of oil out there but the issue is the cost of getting it. If the price of oil drops to $50 a barrel many high cost oil producers will be out of business which reduces supply and sends the price right back up again. The price has to stay at about $85 a barrel to allow for deep water drilling, secondary recovery systems and from tar sands. Also at that price there will still be an international hunt for alternative fuels and fuel efficient vehicles. In the long run the prices need to remain above $85 a barrel or more. The country has learned that relying on cheap oil can be an expensive and dangerous way to run the country.

    **********************************************

    sas nyc

    “Critically different in the narrative around the current oil market view is a simply bearish view of global economic growth that combines with a positively sanguine view of supply…”

    high oil prices ($147/barrel, just before the 2008 economic crash) lead to economic collapse … which results in demand destruction … which lead to lower oil prices.

    but most of the ‘cheap and easy’ oil IS gone, and more and more of what’s left of it will be siphoned to subsidize domestic demand of the oil exporters, leaving even less and less of it available for export — and more and more of the export will be taken by china and india.

    high oil prices —> economic collapse —> demand destruction —> (temporarily) lower oil prices.

    peak oil = a never ending economic depression that gets worse and worse, even as there appears to be and “abundance” of EXPENSIVE oil — which becomes cheaper only because of the economies that have been stifled due to its initially high price.

    THIS is peak oil.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, not the same. It’s an article, not a blog post. Try again, but this time, hit stop right before the page transfers you to the subscription. It works when I do it.

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    Or delete everything in the URL after .html and reload.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Sure, “plenty of oil” except when you look at the total production per year involved and compare it to the total of conventional petroleum production going out of production each year, and factor in expected growth in demand.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    There is more oil locked up in the oil sands then we have extracted so far. And it is in the US and Canada so your “security” issues are covered, $85 a barrel for oil is not a problem, the economy has survived with worse. There will have to be infastructure investment to unlock it but you should be happy about capital investment also because you think that we need more spending.

    So it looks like your subsidized roads will continue to roll on, because they work. If you want to go door to door today you use a road.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “If you want to go door to door today you use a road.”

    Eh, John–that’s what we always did, even back in the old days. What we need is something to take up a lot of routine stuff (commuting as an example), and a certain amount of intermittent things (journeys that are long and tiring in a car, air service too short to be really economical, and a substitute for air service when even tar oil is too pricey to burn). That is what got sabotaged with road subsidies, and is still being sabotaged today.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it again–just give us honest accounting and real cost-recovery pricing for the road system. The free market will take care of the rest–unless you feel honest accounting and real pricing are too painful.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Perhaps the issue is I already think that the current system fairly shares the burden of the road transportation system upkeep.

    Part of the system is paid directly by gas taxes. Part of the system is paid indirectly by other taxes from the general fund (federal, state, and local). This seems fair when you consider that everyone benefits from the system even if they don’t drive. I don’t see how shuffling the method of collection would change the status quo.

    So in the current system if it takes $100 to maintain a road and right now lets say 35% comes from gas taxes and 65% comes from general fund. In your proposed system say 50% comes from gas taxes and 50% comes from some kind of use tax/toll system. It will still add to $100. since the corresponding federal, state, and local taxes would be reduced (because they no longer have to pay for roads) it is a wash. All you are doing is moving the dollars around, it still would add up to the same amount.

    We have an honest accounting of the costs, it is called the budget. You can easily add up the amounts raised by the gas tax, the amount to maintain and build roads, and the amount taken from the general fund. How is that not fair or transparent?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    For a bright fellow, you can miss some things. The road user doesn’t “see” what his roads really cost. It’s hidden, like the “free lunch with beer.” You’re paying for the lunch, which is buried in the price of the beer.

    Let’s change the name, which may help with the idea, and call it “honest pricing.”

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You are still ignoring parking and pollution and policing and emergency room capacity and all the other costs, and pretending that roadwork is the only subsidy that has to be considered.

    Parking is a big factor where parking mandates both hide the cost from the driver by financing the provision of parking with a direct taking from the property owner, but they simultaneously increase the cost of public transport, biking and walking.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Ok so there is a lot of infastructure to support roads…granted. All those other forms of transit are also subsidized without dactyl charging the user. So when you start charging people a toll to walk on the sidewalks (which just like parking are mandated by code and take property from property owners) then we can start toll parking for every parking space

    thatbruce Reply:

    @John Nachtigall:

    sidewalks (which just like parking are mandated by code and take property from property owners)

    Varies by locality. Some places have their property line starting from the edge of the sidewalk (their front fence), and others have their property line starting from the edge of the road including the sidewalk. In most places, the property owner is expected to maintain the sidewalk in front of their property to a reasonable standard.

    But if your neighbors owned the sidewalk in front of their homes, what’s to stop them from charging a steep toll for the use of their sidewalks? Silly question for you, because you’d be comfortably backing out of your driveway and bypassing them.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Not unusual, up here in the snowbelt anyway, for the sidewalk to be owned by the town and maintained by the town….. a ride on mower does the strip between the sidewalk and the curb during the summer. a ride on snowblower clears the sidewalk in the winter. If the snowfall is especially deep over the winter the town comes and hauls away the snow between the sidewalk and the street.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The sidewalk (almost everywhere) is a right of way owed to the city (even when owned by the property owner). That is why it is illegal to block a sidewalk, they actually site you for blocking a right of way. That is why they can’t (currently) charge you for a toll. It is also, by the way, why you can’t dig out your parking space and then “reserve” it after a snowstorm. Same law (in most towns)

    Where I lived the owner of the property was responsible for sidewalk upkeep (snow etc.) but the city was responsible for signage. They came by every 5 years or so to paint the numbers on the curb. It always struck me as a weird division of labor.

    nick Reply:

    the trouble is that you need to be consistent. you cant argue that one form of transport can be subsidised but another not. you continually talk about the rail subsidy but are blinded to the fact that road transport in the usa is also subsidised. if you admit that there are wider economic benefits for road transport which may outweigh the costs of subsidy why do you not also see that rail and other public transport also has benefits which may also outweigh these up front costs ?

    you talk about plenty of oil and that you are quite happy for even environmentally horrendous projects such as the oil sands to go ahead. road transport doesnt pay for the costs of oil exploration, tax cuts to rich oil companies take care of that. without these the costs of exploration would have to be directly added to the cost per gallon. also, burning fossil fuels causes environmental specifically health isssues which cost huge sums of money in additional health care. and thats if we exclude climate change. b illions of dollars flow out of the usa to pay for imported oil which also figures heavily on us foreign policy. the source of a large amount of oil is from currently unstable areas where there is no love of the usa and the west particularly when you consider the massively pro israeli stance of people like romney who may become president – hopefully not is all i can say !

    rail does indeed also have wider economic benefits including reducing congestion for car drivers. in the uk the estimated benefits of hs1 from london to the chunnel and onto paris and brussels are in the region of £20 billion. transport is unlike most other products or services in that very few people consume transport for its own sake. transport is always about wider benefits. if you can make a profit on it then all the better but it isnt necessarily the driver for transportation. goods need to be distributed from where they are made to where they are sold so have to be transported. people who fly drive or take trains for business social family holiday and other reasons buy fuel, meals, magazines, sign contracts, go to a football game or the olympics and buy duty free etc etc. this creates economic growth and revenue from goods and services and raises state and federal taxes. real estate values tend to increase with transport projects, apart from those on top of or very near to the right-of-way.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    All forms of transport are subsidized. Even walking because sidewalks are mandatory.

    The problem with rail is simply that we already have a road system so to put in an equivalent rail system would be a huge investment. It is not that rail can’t be as good as you say, it is simply mega expensive and would take a capital investment that is just prohibitive after you have already built the road system.

    In a place like India or China where you have not committed to the road system yet it makes a lot more sense.

    nick Reply:

    you have to remember that we also need to cater for future growth caused by population growth. the interstates werent built overnight. and as robert keeps reminding us if we dont expand rail and build hsr you will have to build more roads and runways instead. these are also very expensive and freeways take more land then railways do. and they use electricity to power the trains. affordable electric cars which are capable of long distances are not really on the horizon yet and would still be a less efficient use of resources. you cant keep being mired in the present and being concerned with the way thinmgs have been done historically

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The vast majority of trips are less then 20 miles (80+%) To build a rail system that captures those trips will be prohibitively expensive. And I understand that road systems are expanding, but they are building on the already established base. Widening an existing highway is just never going to be as expensive as putting in a little rail system that is within walking distance to most addresses,which is what you have to do to actually compete against roads.

    Denver is putting in a 70+ billion light rail system and it serves a small fraction of the population withing walking distance so you have to drive to get to the stations.

    I am not mired in the present, I am pointing out that we don’t have the tens of trillions of dollars to spend to replace the road system. And if you are always going to have the roads, then the justification for toys like HSR are much less. 70 billion to link 2 city pairs and take (at best) 50% of aire travel and 1.2% of road traffic is just spending a lot of money for not much impact.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    In addition to energy issues, we are hitting limits with what you can do with cars. Most, for instance, do run best and get best fuel economy at current speeds. Try to go much faster, and fuel consumption/energy consumption goes up quite rapidly, along the lines of the square of the speed. This applies to trains, too, but trains have an advantage in that they are long and skinny, and that length-width ration is much more aerodynamically efficient than the short and wide proportions of cars, even with all the air-smoothing that cars now have.

    At higher speeds, you also have tire heating and wear issues. That is part of the reason you don’t have real high-speed monorails (most of which run on rubber tires), and part of why you don’t have really high-speed buses, either.

    Then there are the limits of drivers. Tell me, would you trust the average motorist from America to drive at 100+ mph, as is done in Germany? Are our driver licensing and training adequate for that? I don’t think they’re adequate for what we do now!

    The late Bill Mauldin, the cartoonist best known for “Willie and Joe,” the two bedraggled WW II era soldiers from “Stars and Stripes,” had, among other things, a book published in 1947 called “Back Home,” about his return to civilian life. He has a whole chapter on motoring in the United States in the postwar era. What I thought the most interesting part of that chapter were the comments of an unnamed pilot who thought driver licensing should be more strict than air pilot licensing. This was coming from a bomber pilot, a man used to multiple-engined aircraft, with all the complications inherent in that, and the considerable complications you have with piston aircraft engines, such as knowing when to cut in or cut out turbochargers, cut in or cut out the air filters, and all the electrical system management you had to engage in with aircraft of that time.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYAcQ-SIqXA

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PD2dpEbiAHE

    From the first film–engine start sequence:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOl5YpFVGYU

    That pilot, who was used to dealing with things like what you see in the films above, still thought flying was simpler than driving. As he saw it, take-offs and landings required a good deal of skill, but once you were in the air, all you had to do was watch your gauges and correct your course now and then. Normally nothing else was too close to you, and if something did get close you had the whole sky to move around in, and in three dimensions. In contrast, in a car, you were in a confined area, constantly correcting or changing direction, and very nearly constantly in close proximity to other vehicles. You had to constantly be moving your head, and using both hands and both feet, all the time. Based on his description, the closest approximation I can think of, in regard to flight, might be air-to-air combat between groups of fighters!

    Now, in addition to REALLY SERIOUS driver training and licensing (which in my opinion should include testing on maintenance and navigation), and a genuine demonstration of the ability to handle emergency situations (very likely in a REAL simulator), and full retesting at times of license renewal to make sure you’re still up to snuff, you then have to deal with physical degradation that comes with age. Let’s face it, you really should have a certain minimal level of physical fitness to drive. The safety factor requires good eyesight, good reflexes, and a certain amount of physical flexibility. I would also add decent hearing; I know, deaf people drive, but I have to wonder how they do it, and know when an engine doesn’t sound right, or note the muffler is acting up, or some other problem. And I’ve seen first hand where some deaf and arthritic geezer nearly got himself killed by pulling in front of a fire truck that was lit up like a Christmas tree and wailing loud enough to wake the dead.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Current licensing is fine…accidents per vehicle mile continue to drop. Why make an issue out of something that is not broke?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    oh and if you want to talk about out of control transport. India’s train system is not exactly bulletproof

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Indian_rail_incidents

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If you total all the rail accidents in India in the last 20 years given on Wikipedia, you get a per-passenger-km fatality rate that’s 20 times lower than that of cars in the US, and about 2 times lower than that of mainline trains in the US.

    Not that I believe that Wikipedia’s list covers all of India’s train accidents, but still.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    But still nothing, you said it. Wikipedia does not cover all accidents. It only list the ones that make headlines. I saw the same article, I wonder why the US publishes accident statistics but india does not…could it be that they don’t want the world and thier population to know how dangerous they run the train system??

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What makes you think India doesn’t publish accident statistics? The problem with published statistics is they usually count grade crossing accidents and suicides rather than just passenger fatalities.

    Peter Reply:

    I wonder whether India’s passenger-km numbers include passenger riding illegally.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If they have valid tickets and are just riding illegally on the roof, then probably. Do you know if long-distance trains (i.e. the driver of passenger-km) have a big fare evasion problem?

    Derek Reply:

    Part of the system is paid directly by gas taxes. Part of the system is paid indirectly by other taxes from the general fund (federal, state, and local). This seems fair when you consider that everyone benefits from the system even if they don’t drive.

    People don’t benefit equally. Some benefit more than others. Why shouldn’t people pay in proportion to how much they benefit?

    Paying for the roads from the general fund is a VERY bad idea because the distorted market results in people ultimately paying more than they would through proportional taxes.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They work for people in countries you’ve heard of, cherry-picking away parts you keep saying are not Real America.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    But we have to set coal sands to one side in the discussion of non-traditional fossil fuels, since we can’t afford the CO2 emissions. The dollar price is just a proxy for the full economic cost: the full economic cost is the entire sacrifice made when we make a particular economic choice.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Can you list out all the “acceptable” forms of energy please. First you rail that all the easy oil is gone and that it is a national security issue. Then when they find technology to produce more $50-85 barrel oil then has ever been produced before, and it is right here so we dont have to go to the mid-east you want to just throw it out.

    So before we invest any more can you make that list of acceptable energy sources please?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I don’t recall Bruce arguing about oil being a national security issue here (although he has done so on his own site), but I have.

    The problem with the oil sands, coal conversion, and this fracking business is the same one for the road system in general. The full costs are not being accounted for properly.

    Case in point–coal conversion or liquefaction essentially involves cooking the coal in the absence of air to break it down. Doing so consumes a considerable amount of energy; my seat-of-the-pants estimate is that you use at least half the energy in the coal to turn it into liquid form. That’s wasteful of your coal, and what for? To turn it into something an internal combustion engine can consume, so you can drive while smoking a cigar? Oh, and in the process, you’ve just doubled whatever pollution agents you get from driving.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_liquefaction

    Oil sands have the same problem; you’ve got to cook the stuff to get the oil out. Currently that uses energy from another source (such as natural gas) that might be better used in other applications. In the 1970s, my chemistry instructor in college was appalled at using gas for home heating; he thought it too valuable for that, because of all the chemicals you can get from it to make things, like plastics (some of which are pretty amazing these days). You usually need a lot of water, too, and very often the water is hard to come by where the tar sands are. There are reports that the landscape is in rough shape later, too.

    Fracking is turning out to have its own problems, at least in gas production. Seems there are all sorts of nasty things coming out in the water used for the process, there are chemicals of some sort used in the process in addition to that, the fracking itself has ruined some local wells, some people have wound up with flammable water from those wells, and it has even been blamed for earthquakes in Ohio.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=4LBjSXWQRV8

    And all this is so we can drive, have wrecks, get stuck in traffic, and get leg cramps on long trips?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    So, what you’re saying about oil sands is a decade out of date. Back then, there was indeed a problem with the extraction process’s energy-intensiveness. But since there there has been more investment, bringing the cost of extraction down and also increasing EROEI. Alberta’s current EROEI is about 6.

    Don’t hope for peak oil to save you. (For non-American values of “you.”) There’s enough oil and coal in the world to trigger a climate crisis measured in billions of people, not tens of millions.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    ain’t technology grand

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So now it is a pollution argument. So if you are willing to grant that the current oil sands can keep us in gas for the next 100 years without causing financial ruin and national security issues then we can move on to this last argument.

    If you want to go after pollution, go after electrical power plants (specifically coal then natgas). The Kyoto treaty calls for a move back to 1990 era level emissions. We can get that easy with electrical plants. But just to be safe, car emissions have been going down also (on a per car basis) due to technology. The Model T came out in 1908, in just 100 years car technology has advanced and will continue to advance in both ride, comfort, and of course emissions.

    In 1994 my college professor showed me how he was working to perfect oil sand extraction and this crazy theory on getting natgas out of the ground by pumping in water and chemicals to break up the rock. We thought he was a loon, turns out we were wrong. Because of effort of people like him we are not going to run out of oil any time soon.

    Technology finds a way, and it will find a way to minimize pollution also. Don’t believe me, I will give you 2 examples. Ozone hole (big in my teen years) was solved by replacing freon. And a little before my time, the reclamation of the Great Lakes. They used to be a total cesspit but we managed to clean them up. We will do the same with air pollution, give them a chance.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The ozone hole was surmounted by massive global action and regulations. And it was a much smaller problem than CO2, because it only affected a relatively small amount of global economy. So once the Montreal Protocol came into effect, things eventually stopped deteriorating, and are now slowly improving.

    Likewise, air pollution in US cities is trending down, but that’s because of regulations mandating catalytic converters and such, and the Clean Air Act. Particulates, NOx, etc. are the byproducts of incomplete burning, and so they can be gotten around using technology for cleaner burning. As a result, cars became less polluting, and buses and trucks have done the same more recently, even without an increase in fuel economy. In contrast, the process of converting organic carbon to CO2 is exactly what generates energy from fossil fuels; the only way to reduce that is to burn less fuel – far less than lies in the ground.

    With CO2, giving everything a chance means something like raising taxes on fuel by $5 per gallon, and ¢50 per kWh of electricity coming from coal – and that’s assuming average-case scenario, rather than worst-case, and also ignoring air pollution and just considering CO2. This is the order of magnitude of what’s involved. Kyoto was supposed to be a small first step, but because it didn’t go anywhere, nothing further was done, and by Copenhagen, it all turned into a US-China pissing contest. Nowadays, the reputable environmentalists aren’t talking about cutting a few percent off of 1990. They’re talking about cutting 80-90% off of present-day emissions.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Alon brings up one of the real conundrums of CO2 “pollution,” and that is that CO2 is actually the end product of “perfect” combustion or energy conversion (at least as well as we know it), and the producers of that gas includes us!

    Between the problems of CO2, other pollutants which you still have (although greatly reduced), driving safety, military expeditions, traffic congestion, the cost of the road system, the uncovered road costs such as deferred maintenance, and the fact that driving is an absolute, hateful chore anymore, the end result is plain–we’ve had, in cars as they are now, too much of a good thing. Like eating too much chocolate or French fries, it’s time to go on a more balanced diet.

    Why, John, don’t you just admit that, and admit the game is rigged against transit and rail in general? Why don’t you want to accept that businessmen in intercity rail and local rail (streetcars, interurbans) were largely forced out of business by subsidies to the road system that were mostly hidden from users, making the road system look cheaper than it really is?

    By the way, what’s your opinion on the property taxes railroads pay? The last figure I saw from some years ago was about a half-billion or more for the country as a whole; those taxes go to the usual things taxes go for, such as schools, police protection (which railroads provide a considerable amount of on their own), fire protection, and their competition, roads. That’s something the road user doesn’t pay, because the road is government property. In fact, there are counties and towns in Virginia, just south of me, that are opposed to a road-widening project for I-81. Besides the environmental problems that are usually cited, these counties and towns are looking at huge hits to their tax revenue as property gets gobbled by the greatly expanded highway–it’s been proposed to go to 12 lanes in places, and to include dedicated truck lanes–and of course, it won’t be paying taxes.

    A rail group advocacy site for an alternative to this project:

    http://www.railsolution.org/

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I admit that the game is rigged to favor roads…and I am ok with that. I disagree that the cost is hidden, you can easily get the yearly cost for maintenace and building roads both at the state and federal level. While it is irrational, I will also admit that if people had to pay tolls or at the pump (as opposed to taxes) it would make it “seem” more expensive (even though it would in the end be the same cost). So I get the logic behind your push for use tax/toll/gas tax pricing.

    Here is the rub…I am ok with all of that. The US, many years ago, picked the road system over the rail system. You can argue it was a bad choice, but that is the choice that was made and we are stuck with it. Just like we are not going to convert from 120V 60Hz power systems, we are not going to convert from roads. You can build rail for around the edges, but the core of the transportation issue is sub-20 mile trips and in the US that is roads until there is a disruptive technology compelling enough to cause us to scrap 10s of trillions in road investment. I hope to live to see that technology, but I assure you that trains are not that technology, cars are just too damn convinient. Door to door service, you can carry a lot of stuff (not like walking to a train) and the killer “app” is convinience. I travel when and where I want to with no schedule and not having to share with others. You have to have a technology that more then overcomes all those (plus more) convinences. Plus it is built into the US pyche…cars are sexy.

    As a side note, if we start causing people to pay when they use all forms of transit I think that is going to hurt (not help) rail. At least with roads the cost will be spread out over the whole population, for buses and rail it has the same infastructure and operating costs on a much smaller population. And the cycle of higher costs, less riders, then even higher costs would devistate public transport. I would hate to see what an actual fare would be for a bus ride if they charged actual costs (including road tolls). Fares go up, riders go down, then fares go up even more. I am not sure there would be a single sustainable municiple bus route in the whole US.

    nick Reply:

    so you are admitting that there is a problem. i remember all these issues you are mentioning and i remember all the various industries denying these same issues for years. why do we think that it is okay to pollute the only place or planet we have to live on.? and with the current growing world population we cannot just sit back and not make changes to reduce excessive use of the planets resources. like food. we have drought and flood reducing crops worldwide but want to use ethanol to run our cars instead of feeding people. the 7 billion people on the planet eat enough for 8 billion people because of the obese food guzzling so called developed world.

    for remember cfcs, leaded fuel, love canal, three mile island, chernobyl, agent orange, anti pollution equipment and safety standards on cars ? what was the response from the industries – denial thats what. we were told cars would be too heavy and prices would increase massively. leaded fuel was preferred for engineering reasons so we were more concerned about damage to car engines then to children’s brains ! (children near high traffic areas had slower development linked to the lead)

    you dont have to read between the lines to see where we are headed in fact it is almost written across the sky. at the very least we will see more wars and more disasters. you say lets frack but i say dont try it near the san andreas fault. two small earthquakes were caused in the north of the uk by a very limited fracking operation. it is fracking mad.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If you want to know why people in much of the world hate America, it’s because Americans response “Cars are sexy” to a comment about climate change.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Alon, be fair, that was the 5th reason that cars are winning. And people only hate Americans until they get crushed by a natural disaster or their country is involved in a war….then they love the aircraft carrier and the food that the US is expected to provide at no cost to whatever God forsaken shithole needs help this week.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I hear Somalia is just the kinda place John Galt, Dagny Taggart, Howard Roark et al. would love. WHy don’t you give it a try, living in Somalia.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It shouldn’t have been any reason. When we’re talking about global disasters, nobody should give a flying fuck about the personal comfort of rich people (as, by global standards, nearly all Americans are). It’s this total lack of sensitivity that makes people hate you.

    The same is true of stupid comments “until they get crushed by a natural disaster or a war.” Yeah, some Americans are individually involved in charity, but the US government destroys countries’ ability to develop on their own; that’s why they need that charity to begin with. Read up on what the US has done in Haiti in the last few decades in the name of fighting communism.

    And Haiti still pales in comparison to Vietnam, Iraq, and other countries that got a taste of the business end of American carriers. And the climate refugee crisis is going to dwarf even that, all for your own personal comfort. Do you have any empathy – real one, not just the feel-good kind that leads people to donate used clothes – for people who live in other countries?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “As a side note, if we start causing people to pay when they use all forms of transit I think that is going to hurt (not help) rail. At least with roads the cost will be spread out over the whole population, for buses and rail it has the same infastructure and operating costs on a much smaller population. And the cycle of higher costs, less riders, then even higher costs would devistate public transport. I would hate to see what an actual fare would be for a bus ride if they charged actual costs (including road tolls). Fares go up, riders go down, then fares go up even more. I am not sure there would be a single sustainable municiple bus route in the whole US.”–John N.

    Buses, maybe. Rail, I wouldn’t be so sure.

    It has to do with the inherent efficiency of properly applied rail service. Note that rail service was–and for the current freight system, is–the only overland transit mode that has ever paid its entire way, no subsidy. And even for “money-losing” passenger rail, the cost recovery ratio is far better than the highway system.

    Let me put it another way. You’ve brought up the thought that transit infrastructure, particularly rail, has to pay a lot of costs on a relatively small proportion of the population. This is a variation of the a unit-cost argument which claims a 1 cent or 2 cent subsidy per passenger mile for the road system vs. an alleged much higher subsidy for transit service, on the order of 40 cents per mile. Now, I’m not going to say unit costs aren’t an important metric, but they are not the only one, and may not be the most important one.

    An example I’ve brought up in the past was that of Atlantic-Richfield Company, or ARCO, an oil company that was founded in the east, but is no longer there because it couldn’t get its costs low enough to be competitive. My guess is those costs, while not quite low enough, were very likely a good deal lower than what Chanel sells its famous No. 5 perfume for, which comes in at something like $54,000.00 per gallon! Whooee! You’re not going to run a car or anything else on that stuff, even if it is a sort-of oil based product!

    The point is that to a bank, or for business comparisons, unit costs may not be as important as cost recovery ratios. If you check the financial statements from companies, they hardly ever mention their unit costs (which can often vary wildly anyway, as in the case of an auto builder like GM that builds a wide variety of machines, some of which are stamped out in huge volumes, and others which are almost semi-custom products). What they do emphasize are various ratios, return on investment, operating ratios, and the like. If you were an investor, you wouldn’t care about unit costs as much as you care about covering your costs and generating an excess for profits.

    In this area, rail still loses money, but it’s not as bad as a bus system. A fairly typical example might be the Washington DC Metro system, which runs a bus system, a heavy rail system that is very similar to San Francisco’s BART, and a ride-demand system; the only things it doesn’t run are a light rail or trolley system and a ferry operation.

    What’s most interesting is that the rail system, which has its own infrastructure to maintain, handles twice the passengers of the bus system for half the overall subsidy. Cost recovery for the bus system is 27%, recovery for the rail system is 79%, the ride-demand service is a social service with a cost recovery of less than 7%, and the overall system cost recovery is 55%, or ten percent better than the road system in recent years. This is in spite of an overall higher wage cost for the rail system against the bus system ($9 million vs. $6 million), and the rail system maintaining its own infrastructure, something the bus system doesn’t do (Washington has no dedicated busways that I know of).

    http://www.wmata.com/about_metro/docs/ProposedFY2013Budget.pdf

    How is this so? Part of it is that the rail system is electric, and that’s cheaper than diesel fuel, part of it is that rail cars roll with so little friction as to approach the efficiency of maglev in that regard, and part of it is employee productivity–or, as my wife puts it, “Trains are longer than buses, they carry more.” Others have brought out that rail is more attractive to riders, partially because buses have a down-market image, but I think it’s more basic than that; I think it’s ride quality. Rail cars don’t normally have a screaming diesel engine in the back of the car, they normally doesn’t have a transmission that kicks like a mule every time it shifts, and they don’t hit potholes that rattle the windows, the seats, and you. This is even on bad track; that can be bumpy at speed, even frightening (I’ve experienced both, and in both commuter service and on excursion trains with steam engines), but even the worst ride is still more comfortable than that of a bus–at least, that’s how I see things, based on the experience.

    Anyway, it looks like it might be easier to go from 75% cost recovery to 100% recovery for rail than it would be from 45% to 100% for the road system. Indeed, would you even need to get the road system to 100% to get rail there?

    Got to do some more number crunching on that. . .

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Alon

    I don’t know what you are talking about…people love me, I am a really nice guy.

    1. The pointy end of a carrier is quite sharp and no fun whatsoever, that is why they are effective. Basically a carrier makes the following statement “If you mess with the US (or if the US chooses to mess with you) then you are going to die, but not before you watch your country reduced to rubble” That is why it is called a warship….if it was a peaceship they would be named after flowers and have a much different crew.

    2. The US give more money to charity per capita then any other country by far. And if you only count private contributions (not government grants) then the gap is even bigger. So I am sorry that reality is inconvenient for you but Americans are by far the most generous people on earth. My favorite quote from the article

    “No developed country approaches American giving. For example, in 1995 (the most recent year for which data are available), Americans gave, per capita, three and a half times as much to causes and charities as the French, seven times as much as the Germans, and 14 times as much as the Italians. Similarly, in 1998, Americans were 15 percent more likely to volunteer their time than the Dutch, 21 percent more likely than the Swiss, and 32 percent more likely than the Germans.”

    http://www.american.com/archive/2008/march-april-magazine-contents/a-nation-of-givers/

    3. Haiti was a French colony (not American) and while it is true we did meddle in their politics, we also have given them more than 3 billion in aid since 1990. You know who is at fault for Haiti’s condition? The people of Haiti. It is not our fault they can not get their act together and have a functioning government. The sad truth is they lived better as a colony and to fix that situation you would have to take it over and run it as a benevolent dictatorship (colony) for 20 years until you could train a generation of people to run it for themselves. Very sad how some countries just can’t get it together. And before you blame the US for the politics there are plenty of examples of countries that have functioning governments after US involvement (Japan, Germany, Panama, Cuba, Honduras). Haiti is killing itself (with help from an earthquake).

    4. I am proud and privileged to have been born in the US and I try not to take it for granted, but having never experienced the crushing poverty and dysfunction of life outside the US in the third world it is fair to say I don’t know how they live. That said, I spend my days making sure that medical devices are safe and compliant. I may not be a doctor but I help save peoples lives every day so I am not going to apologize for my life.

    D.P.

    One quibble, the pension system for freight is subsidized by the US government because the number of railroad workers is about 1/5th of the number of retired workers. But I get your argument. I think you are forgetting the capital subsidy, however. If a mode of transit is truly paying its own way then it has to pay for the capital also. Right now there is no rail system in the world that makes that kind of profit. The NY Subway system (which is as close to nirvana as rail supporters can get) does not do that. The HSR systems in Europe don’t do that. Would they do that if roads became even more expensive….we will see. I think London (with the congestion tax) is as close to finding that out as possible, it will be an interesting experiment.

    adirondacker

    That would be a no on Somalia. I actually value the rule of law above all else, so a lawless state is not my cup of tea. And I don’t think Ms. Rand would find a state where the strong but stupid people rule to be ideal either. She was more into the smart and benevolent ruling kind of gal.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Most charity is feel-good. Americans destroy countries, and then give them some pocket change to feel better about themselves. In Haiti’s case, this means multiple coups, in recent decades. France was of course a participant, and destroyed Haiti in ways you can’t imagine in the 19th century, but we’re not discussing France’s evils; we’re discussing the USA’s. $3 billion is $15 per Haitian per year (1-1.5% of GDP). Several states in the US get 100-200 times that in federal tax imbalance. Haiti wouldn’t need the money if it had the growth rate of a normal independent country that doesn’t get invaded every few years.

    And in many cases, the charity actually makes things worse. It dumps first-world goods in third-world countries that could manufacture them themselves. You don’t need to be rich or even middle-income to have a textile industry. But if the US decides you’re poor, USAid will send you free used clothes, of the kind that you’d get punished for by the WTO if you tried to do in reverse, and your manufacturing workers will lose their jobs. (Sending money directly is more effective, but people don’t do it as much because it feels less charitable.)

    What the third world actually needs is trade, and this means being able to export to the first world without being compelled to jump through hoops for it. The countries that have advanced from third world to first in the last 50 years are precisely the ones that could do it, usually because for geopolitical Cold War reasons the US let them export freely, to help develop their economies. Those countries didn’t get much aid in the crucial period of their growth. The main popular reference for this is William Easterly, by the way, who makes the case against various nanny-state aid programs, which at best achieve very little.

    I’m not asking you to apologize. I’m asking you to accept that cutting your standard of living by a factor of three to prevent a global crisis is a fair trade. I don’t think your standard of living has to go down by a factor of 3, or at all – cutting people’s living standards is a cost, and like with everything else, it’s important to cut costs. But my starting point is that the crisis must be prevented, not that Americans’ privileges must be maintained.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    There comes a point in every countries development where you have to stop blaming the past and actually solve problems. Some countries do that (as you pointed out), some countries (like Haiti, North Korea, etc.) do not. That is not the responsibility of the US to solve every countries long term problems. (and 3 billiion is about 5% of the GDP for Hatiti for the last 20 years for that is not pocket change)

    And we agree on aid. Giving things to people does not teach them anything and inhibits the local economy. The problem is that people with empathy (which you accuse me of not having) don’t like to see people starve so they do the expedient thing. Trade is a key, but that is a very capatalistic response coming from you…better be careful

    I can’t solve you cynisism Alon, if you can’t see that the USA has been a net global force for good then I will not be able to convince you. But for the record, here is my counter argument. American’s will not need to cut their standard of living to solve whatever enviromental crisis may or may not be coming. Like always, a combination of technology and compromise will avert disaster gradually and the world will continue to turn (with the US as the de facto superpower leader). It happened with the “population bomb”, it happened with the “ozone layer, and it will happen again with global warming.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The US give more money to charity per capita then any other country by far.

    In first world countries poor people don’t have to depend on charity to keep food on the table. get medical care etc. There’s less need for charity.

    run it as a benevolent dictatorship (colony) for 20 years until you could train a generation of people to run it for themselves.

    The US occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934. 19 years is close enough to 20 isn’t it? That worked out really well. How it’s going, occupying a country, in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    France was of course a participant, and destroyed Haiti in ways you can’t imagine in the 19th century

    The Haitians took the revolution to heart and revolted in 1791. Napoleon let go of his dream of a North American empire – you may have heard of the Louisiana Purchase. Gave up on Haiti too. Haiti has been nominally independent since 1804. The second country in the Americas to declare it’s independence. The rest of the 19th century saw all sorts of things go on, on Hispaniola. France wasn’t the only one abusing Haiti.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    That does not explain why the USA (a first world country) 3x-10x more percapita then other first world countires (Franch, Germany, etc.). Perhaps it is because American’s are just generous…no that could not be the explanation, I forgot, America is evil.

    And Haiti was better off after the occupation, but then they fell into the habit of a dictatorship. Some contries just defy being democratic for some reason.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Haiti

    The transition government left a better infrastructure, public health, education, and agricultural development as well as a democratic system. The country had fully democratic elections in 1930, won by Sténio Vincent. The Garde was a new kind of military institution in Haiti.[30] It was a force manned overwhelmingly by blacks,[30] with a United States- trained black commander, Colonel Démosthènes Pétrus Calixte.[30] Most of the Garde’s officers, however, were mulattoes. The Garde was a national organization;[30] it departed from the regionalism that had characterized most of Haiti’s previous armies.[30] In theory, its charge was apolitical—to maintain internal order, while supporting a popularly elected government. The Garde initially adhered to this role.[30]

    Stop making excuses for Haiti. They have to learn to govern themselves instead of putting up with tinpot dictators and interference from the outside (even the US).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Perhaps it is because American’s are just generous

    Perhaps it’s because in first world countries the cashier at the supermarket doesn’t encourage you to donate to the local food pantry. And while charities run thrift shops, there isn’t a whole class of people depending on them for clothing and household goods. Or even , for the middle class, if you have the skills you can go to college. You don’t have depend on the endowment of the university to subsidize your tuition.

    And Haiti was better off after the occupation,

    Almost everybody was better off after the occupation. Life in the US was much better in 19343 than it was in 1915, except for the unemployment. More people had electricity, plumbing, cars, radios… the list goes on and on.

    …there is no excuse for Haiti.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I disagree that the cost is hidden, you can easily get the yearly cost for maintenace and building roads both at the state and federal level.

    First, you can’t easily get the annual cost of driving on those roads, since the amount being spent on maintenance is not sufficient to maintain the system in a constant state of good repair: physically depreciating an asset is a cost whether or not those responsible for the asset actually cover that full cost.

    And second, that’s just roads. Anybody who pretends that the cost of roads is the same as the public cost of the car transport system is either ignorant or lying.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Haiti did elect people from the inside who promised various reforms. The US responded with coups. When Haiti voted for Aristide ten years ago, the US response was to oust him; can’t have someone raising the minimum wage and spending money on health and education, now, can we?

    People who self-govern do well. India mismanaged itself in the 1950s and 60s; it still did infinitely better than countries under colonialism, including the soft US version (same as the soft UK version of colonialism – India didn’t do better under the East India Company). The main factor leading to Africa’s recent economic growth is the end of the Cold War, which meant a radical scaling down in the amount of great power warfare its countries had to endure, and also loss of support for dictators who the US and USSR vied for the support of. Those countries are still facing a hostile trade regime from the US and Europe, but they’re at least less likely to be bombed.

    Contributing a fraction of a percent of your GDP is not generosity. It’s an indulgence. One that doesn’t even help, not that anyone cares. It can be excused when an individual does it because it’s not common knowledge, but the US government keeps promoting USAid, on top of those colonial free-trade-in-name-only agreements that both Jagdish Bhagwati and the anti-globalization types agree are bad.

    To put things in perspective, in the Japanese earthquake, Desmond Tutu said that Japan always gives disaster aid to the third world and so the third world has a moral obligation to support Japan, even though it’s far richer. He would not say the same about an American disaster. That’s not out of any especial anti-Americanism (the US supported apartheid South Africa until the 80s, but so did Japan, to the point that the apartheid regime reclassified Japanese businessmen as white). It’s out of the fact that the aid the US gives is diffuse and meaningless. (Japan, while generally more protectionist, also signs clean free trade agreements, unlike the US and EU.)

    And that’s without invoking climate change. 20% of US GDP is carbon externalities. The American charities don’t care – fixing that is too political. The only American philanthropist who’s doing anything to change this is George Soros, who’s wisely directing his money where it’s most effective, i.e. agitating for the government to stop causing so much damage. For that, he’s vilified, while orders-of-magnitude less effective direct charity gets you hailed as a hero.

    Finally: I don’t want you to solve my cynicism. My political and social attitudes are not a disease that needs to be cured. They’re a result of actually listening to how Americans view themselves and the world. Anti-Americanism is not a disorder. It’s a consequence of how America destroys the world for (at best) personal comfort and (at worst) geopolitical and corporate power plays.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They’re a result of actually listening to how Americans view themselves and the world.

    How Real Americans(tm) view the world. Plain old Americans can and so have a wide variety of views. There a quite a few that were being Cassandras when we invaded Iraq, Vietnam, Cambodia…. who may have been right

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Alon, you are free to believe whatever you like, it is America, that is allowed here, not like in other countries you so admire.

    America may give a fraction of its GDP, but it is a bigger fraction that other countries. You still can’t explain why these evil Americans give more than the socially advance Europeans. Just because Tutu called for aid to Japan does not mean he would not call for aid to America (if we had a similar tragedy). Simply America has not had a disaster on that scale.

    But to invoke Africa is a joke. You can’t possibly think that Africa is better off now (at least economically) then they were under colonial rule. It is true they were politically subjugated and freedom has no price so politically they are much better off. But look what they did with that freedom. Genocide, poverty, famine, oppression, and dictators are jus the top of the list. Africans have killed more Africans then any colonial power ever did. Even Italy ran Somalia better then the citizens are running it.

    I get it Alon, you hate America (and by proxy Americans) because we are loud, proud, over-consumers, arrogant, rich, militaristic and most importantly unapologetic. That is all 100% true.

    Here is what you fail to acknowledge. We (America) earned what we got. We were not given this country and this position of power, we fought for it. There was plenty of interference with America from old world countries as we grew and even after WWI we were not considered much of a world power. Once we attained this powerful position we have fought to expand freedom and liberty to countries outside the US. You can dream all you want, but if you think life inside the USSR during the cold war was so great then why did they build walls to keep people in.

    Americans are also generous, well meaning, diverse, optimistic, tolerant, lawful, smart, curious, and above else good. As a people we are constantly trying to do the right thing, even when we complain about it along the way. Just the technology alone that the US has contributed to the world has changed everyone’s life for the better.

    Bottom line…if you think the world would be a better place without America then you look at how the UN handled your precious Haiti. Obama tried to let the UN do all the heavy lifting, but it was apparent that the US had to step in to get the job done and save those people. We may not have rebuilt the country, but all the UN gave them was Cholera

    The world is a better place because of America, not in spite of it.

  8. jimsf
    Aug 12th, 2012 at 17:36
    #8

    O/T but didn’t florida just drop high speed rail, poo poo ing all the alleged benefits and they are doing this, and citing all the same benefits that are part of the pro hsr stance? oy!

    Florida East Coast (FEC) Railway announced last week that it will be moving forward with the development of a
    passenger rail service between Miami and Orlando, with plans for the service to launch by the end of 2014. The
    project would create 6,000 temporary construction jobs, with another 1,000 permanent positions created through
    operation and maintenance of the service. FECʼs study found that around 50 million people travel between Miami
    and Orlando annually, with cars the dominating mode. The company believes that the service, which would allow
    passengers to travel between Orlando and South Florida in around three hours, has the potential to capture a
    large portion of that market. “We’ve completed due diligence and everything has confirmed our excitement,” Vice
    President of Corporate Development at Florida East Coast Railway Husein Cumber told reporters. “This project is
    financially viable, and so we’re moving forward with it.” The service, dubbed All Aboard Florida, would be operated
    by FEC, and would run on 200 miles of existing right of way currently being used by FEC freight trains. The
    railroad will need to build 40 miles of new track to connect the service to Orlando International Airport. In
    conjunction with Miami Metrorailʼs new Orange Line service, travelers will have access to direct rail connections
    between Miami International Airport, Orlando International Airport, and Orlandoʼs many renowned theme parks and
    resorts. It reflects the reality of Miami and the diversification of the economy here that we have a growing,
    sophisticated population eager to take rail,” said Frank Nero of Beacon Council, Miami-Dade County’s official
    economic development partnership. “It’s too close to fly and too far to drive, but this is a very happy medium. It’s
    terrific. I can see tourists who might otherwise decide only to go to Disney, who now might decide to go to Miami
    for a day or two as well. FEC estimates that the project will cost around $1 billion, and has expressed confidence
    that it will be able to fund the entire cost through private sector investment. A big piece of that puzzle was clarified
    with FECʼs announcement that it intends to create a new train station to serve as a hub for the development of
    nine acres of land lying in the heart of downtown Miami. Located along tracks just north of the Miami-Dade County
    Courthouse, the land—owned by Florida East Coast Industries—is currently fallow. “Everythingʼs on the table.
    Weʼre looking at everything from residential to office and retail and hotel,ʼʼ
    said Cumber. “You want to make sure
    that what you build has a lasting impact on a community, but also fits into the fabric. You want to make sure what
    you build is something the community embraces.ʼ

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Florida dropped the project it could drop. There isn’t much Scott can do to scuttle a private project.

    nick Reply:

    florida dropped the ball big time thats what happened

    Alon Levy Reply:

    “Dropped the ball” assumes that it was a mistake.

    nick Reply:

    it was a mistake

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It was deliberate at all levels. The people who wrote the report saying the state would be on the hook for cost overruns and operating losses said so many blatantly false things they had to have been lying; Scott lied to the court while defending his decision to cancel the project.

    joe Reply:

    Yes. They lied.

    And they want to deepen Miami’s port for cargo.
    http://www.progressiverailroading.com/intermodal/news/Two-Florida-ports-advance-growth-plans-to-prepare-for-Panama-Canal-expansion–32044#

    So will this rail and the deepened port with expected cargo and shipping associated with a port expansion fit within existing transportation infrastructure?

    Alon?

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Yup. The fact that Florida East Coast, who serve that port, are also planning on hosting a frequent passenger rail service indicates that they’ll have plenty of freight capacity available for the port expansion.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I think this project is still vaporware. There’s too many convenient benefits to CSX if this project moves forward.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How does FEC investing in FEC tracks benefit CSX?

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    As I understand it:

    If the FEC starting running passenger trains it would pressure Amtrak to shift it’s services to its tracks which run through many Florida cities’ cores.

    Tri-Rail, which is state-subsidized commuter rail, is a target of Governor Scott’s budget and uses (surprise, surprise) the CSX tracks as well. The feds are building improvements along the CSX tracks under the assumption that this will continue.

    If the upgrades are done before Amtrak switches lines, CSX gets a snappy new rail line that allows it to exploit the Panama Canal expansion while Amtrak has to deal with the all the grade separation issues with the FEC.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    You still haven’t answered why this is a conspiracy by FEC to benefit CSX.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Has Scott even tried to go after Tri-Rail?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The FEC pressuring Amtrak to use the rail corridor that will cut hours off of its Miami service and substantially increases its ridership? Oh, now, don’t push Brer Rabbit into that briar patch!

    If the Florida government wants that to happen, they could work on their liability rules for Amtrak running on Florida-owned corridors. PRIIA Section Improvement Plan: FY11 Performance Improvement Plan:

    Amtrak evaluated several alternatives for extending or routing existing Silver Service trains over the Florida East Coast. Preliminary analyses suggest that the most promising alternative would be splitting the Silver Star at Jacksonville and operating a separate section of the train to Miami via the FEC to supplement the Silver Star’s current Jacksonville-Tampa-Miami service. Operating a section of the Silver Star over the FEC is projected to attract over 100,000 new Silver Service riders and increase revenues by $7.9 million annually. Since projected revenues would slightly exceed the anticipated additional operating costs, the route’s financial performance would improve as well.

    Operation of a section of the Silver Star over the FEC is not included in the plan because it cannot be implemented at this time. Significant capital funding would be required for rail infrastructure upgrades on the FEC route, including additional equipment, mobilization costs, and other necessary investments. In addition, Florida DOT, which owns the rail line between Dyer (West Palm Beach) and Miami, Florida, over which additional service routed via FEC would operate, is prohibited by Florida law from entering into the liability apportionment arrangements that Amtrak has with nearly all of its host railroads. Initiation of additional Amtrak service over FDOT-owned lines would subject Amtrak to additional unacceptable liability exposure. (71-72)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    all very interesting but doesn’t answer whey FEC investing in FEC assets is good for CSX.
    What am I missing?

  9. Reality Check
    Aug 13th, 2012 at 16:14
    #9

    Paul Ryan wealth comes from building ROADS (government-funded infrastructure)!

    The report mentioned how Ryan’s family has deep roots in southern Wisconsin, and that his family made its fortune with a construction business, Ryan Incorporated, which was once “Ryan Brothers.” And that it “built roads.”

    “Huh,” the Rude Pundit thought. “Roads aren’t generally built by private funding.” So he did a little bit of googling, and what do you know?

    The Ryan Incorporated Central webpage on the company’s history says, “By the 1940′s the Company had become a full-service grading contractor serving both private industrial and public transportation customers, including some of the original work at what would become O’Hare Airport.”

    But on the website for Ryan Incorporated Southern, headquartered in Florida, (there are various divisions of Ryan and, yes, still from Paul Ryan’s family and the company founded by his great-grandfather that’s still run by cousins), it’s a bit more explicit: “The Ryan workload from 1910 until the rural interstate Highway System was completed 60 years later, was mostly Highway construction.”

    And whose money built the interstate highway system? That’d be ours.

    In other words, you know how Barack Obama talked about how your business didn’t build the roads that allow you to do business? Well, if you are in the Midwest, chances are that Paul Ryan’s family did build some of the roads. And they got to be amazingly successful because the federal government gave them six decades of contracts and millions upon millions of dollars to build them.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Explains his empathy for Ayn Rand a lot.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    can a Randian experience empathy?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    He can bond with other Randians over shared experiences like collecting government subsidies while decrying others who do as moochers.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Feral dogs will bond with each other, that doesn’t mean they are empathizing. On the whole, I’d rather have to deal with feral dogs than with Randians who think they have bonded.

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