We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
To what extent should "public goods" be subsidized? What are the limits?
Transportation is taxpayer-subsidized or government-run in the US. Airports, roads and highways, and mass transit, for starters. All of these things were once entirely private ventures.
In the Boston to DC corridor, Amtrak is a wonderful thing and it is heavily used. It's quicker and cheaper than driving and parking, and it takes you from downtown to downtown instead of to a distant airport.
Whether Amtrak is overly-subsidized is another question, which I cannot answer. However, I would ask these folks who are mooning Amtrak in Calif. whether they would like their California interstates taken away. The NY Sun a while ago was not too keen on Amtrak subsidies, but when they discuss the far-cheaper cost of busses, they ignore the fact that the highways they use are government-built and maintained.
For Amtrak, maybe a better strategy would be to stop subsidizing it, and at the same time stop taxing the railroads like the robber barons were still running it.
A few years ago, I read in the Wilson Quarterly that for every dollar of subsidy the railroads get, they pay something like a dollar and a quarter in taxes. I can't think that it has changed in the short time since.
If that quarter goes to pay the bureaucrats who run this tax-and-spend scheme, then if we dissolve it all we'll break even.
(And somehow, I don't think the hacks are living off only 25 cents from each $1.25....)
I lived in a large city during a long bus strike once and traffic moved much better without the buses and the streets were nicer without the diesel fumes too. It made me wonder if subsidizing low income and disabled people with vouchers for taxis, that would actually pick them (and their stuff) up where they live and drop them off where they need to go, could be cheaper and cleaner for some municipalities than running a city bus system. Then the city might make the highways and the bridges and the tunnels the priorities they should be. Okay..... I know I am dreaming. Promoting people in private cars on good highways is not a priority in today's 'climate' even if it is how most of us get around. Cities are going the opposite way and not improving access and/or roads because that would 'encourage' people to drive and some are 'investing' heavily in pubic transport..
Also about the railroads. There is something romantic about them. People are attached. We like the idea of trains, but high speed trains are insanely expensive and they are not adaptable to many North American routes. Also to
ship materials by railroad car is a fairly large undertaking. The goods have to be trucked to and from the rail yards and loaded and then unloaded there.Trucks can pick the goods up and drop the goods off at exact locations.
With the profusion of small aircraft match-up services and other such things, I have learned that for the cross-country journey you charter an aircraft. Have to move and will not put the cats into the cargo area of a damned jetliner that might get stuck on the ground for 9 hours.
Luckily, the low-cost private plane market has made this a reality and, hopefully, will revive point-to-point air travel. I will refuse to do it via hub-n-spoke again if it can be avoided again after I move. Private air transport on a chartered aircraft: now for the common man.