Politicizing tragedy

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on May 13, 2015

AMoMoneyt last count 7 people lost their lives last night as an Amtrak train derailed en route from Washington, D.C. to New York City. Before the bodies had even grown cold, their were utterly dishonest and predictable calls on the political left that it was the GOP's fault because they've cut funding from Amtrak over the past several years.

The crash was a result of a miserly GOP congress refusing to spend money on needed infrastructure projects.

Except it wasn't. No amount of money for "shovel-ready" projects would've prevented the train's engineer from going 106 mph in a 50 mph zone.

You had the Washington Post dishonestly claiming that Amtrak hadn't received funding since 2013.

You had a who's who of progressive thinkers claiming that going more than twice the posted speed limit was because we need moar gubmint!

There's an old saying that when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. For progressives of every stripe, it's obvious that more government spending on infrastructure, education, social programs, et cetera, ad infinitum is the solution to what ails the nation. (The one exception is military spending, that can always be cut.) Government is progressives' church, and the church needs more money. The IRS targets conservatives? They need more money (for bonuses) to ensure they don't abuse their authority. The Veterans Administration has secret wait lists so that bureaucrats can get their performance bonuses? More money for bonuses! Amtrak can't ensure its engineers don't do double the speed limit? More money for infrastructure. My favorite tweet of the day was this one, from the Washington Post reporter that wrote the error-filled article referenced at the top of this post.

I was intrigued. I've ridden Amtrak before, typically from San Diego to San Luis Obispo, Calif., and back. The trip takes around 10 hours. It's not quick. My absolute worst time making that same drive was 8 hours (LA traffic is the worst). It's slow and it's not particularly cheap. It's usually cheaper to drive a rental car one-way than it is to take the train. It's certainly not used by the hoi polloi.

So, I checked online to see what it would cost and how long it would take to get from Philadelphia to Denver via rail.

Oh boy is it elitist.

A reserved seat, not in business class, on the train from Philadelphia to Denver one way costs $495. You can leave on Thursday around noon and you arrive in Denver Saturday night. On a bus. The train doesn't go into Denver. You get off in northern New Mexico and then take a 4 1/2 hour bus ride.

A one way ticket costs about $245 (on Delta), requires a connecting flight in Minneapolis-St. Paul and you arrive in Denver 6 hours later.

Which of these options will a person who works for a living and has limited funds and limited time off going to choose if they need to get from Philadelphia to Denver? Not the train.

And here's the kicker: Delta makes a few bucks on that plane ticket. American taxpayers subsidize the $495 ticket.

The train takes 10 times as long, costs more than twice as much and it's still not making money.


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May 2015



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