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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Roll On Train, Roll On Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden is arguing that "America Needs Trains."

In this article, Biden convinces us that he personally loves trains. He even does some convincing that they are important in America.

What Biden misses though, is an argument as to why the taxpayers should support trains, whether they like them or not. He also neglects to convince me why he should be the one who gets to decide whether we get trains or not. Who is the Vice President, or even the President for that matter, to decide for us what kind of businesses we should support?

If building trains was a good idea, then why do taxpayers have to pay for it? If so many people will ride, and benefit from trains, then private parties would gladly pay for it.

But politicians often don't think this way. They don't want the people of this country to decide what is a good idea, they want that power for themselves. In a free society, the people decide what they want by either participating or not participating. If they will ride a train, it will be profitable to build them, and businesses will line up for blocks to build and run them.

Clearly, the people of this country don't want trains, otherwise, why would Biden feel the need to funnel taxpayer dollars into them? Well, maybe that is because there is a strong special interest group surrounding the trains, and the unions which supposedly represent those who work in the train industry.

Amtrak is one of America's biggest failures. The absurdities of the services are well documented. It runs routes that nobody rides and charges insanely weird rates. But that doesn’t stop the government from supporting it.

It became part of the federal government, as part of a bailout of the company. The company was loosing money to start with and since the government took over, it looses billions of dollars every year. And why shouldn’t it spend more money than it makes—the taxpayers pay the bills.

So answer me this Mr. Biden: why should taxpayer pay the bills of private companies, which cannot attract enough customers to even come close to breaking even? And who will compete with Amtrak, improving the product of the industry, when the government supports the primary competitor? But the most important question is this: why should the government decide how to spend the taxpayer's money, rather than the taxpayer's themselves?

Some politicians love the idea of trains because it kinda goes along with their ideology. With a train, everybody is herded onto a rail-car together and goes to a predetermined location at a predetermined time, all managed by a central authority. To build trains, the government plows through other people's property, taking it for the higher purpose decided by the state. In densely populated areas, like Biden's native Delaware and DC, this makes more sense.

But for most the country, the idea is horrible and offensive.

Americans generally do not like trains. We prefer personal cars with destinations and arrival times of our own choosing. We don't like having to conform with the rules of the road, no less the train-station's rules. And we don’t like a government that wastes our money under the notion that the government should use our money to support "American tradition" industries or industries the government says we cant do without.

We don't need Joe Biden or anyone else to tell us what we "need." We can decide for ourselves just fine, thank you very much.

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