Barack Obama's Euro-Train-Envy
The president of the United States wants Americans riding trains. And like so many other aspects of the president's ideas for what would make the USA a utopia, we continue to get more spending on leftist ideology forced upon us -- like it, want it, or not.
At a speech earlier this year in Miami, President Obama again made the pitch for "improving the nation's infrastructure," including spending hundreds of billions of dollars (that we don't have) on construction of high-speed rail networks. He again touted his plan for developing a "national infrastructure bank" (yet another federal bureaucracy) and capitalizing it with $10 billion (which he'll wave into existence with a magic wand). He would also create "America Fast Forward Bonds" that would help state and local governments attract money for infrastructure projects...like trains.
This vision of a nation crisscrossed by "high-speed rail networks" is clearly one the president is hot for, always has been hot for, and is more than willing to bury our great grandchildren under even more debt to achieve. But why? What is it about trains that gets the man so rambunctious?
I've coined a term to answer that question; "Euroenvy." Our president and the liberal elite in this country have a massive case of it. From government-sponsored, overseen, and run health care to tiny little matchbox cars that go 50 kilometers on a liter of petrol (and the four-dollar-per-liter price tag that goes along with that petrol), it's clear that Barack Obama sees Europe -- not America -- as the model to strive for. And what do they have connecting the nations of Europe? Trains.
Euro-train-envy was never more prominently displayed than in one Obama's earliest first-term failures, when the International Olympic Committee snubbed Chicago in the first round of choosing a venue. In a press conference the following day, Obama was asked why he failed. In the midst of comparing America to others in the hunt for the games, the president snidely stated, "We don't even have a high-speed train system" -- i.e., we're so far behind Europe that it's no wonder we didn't win.
This fascination with connecting our nation by trains is beyond costly and ridiculous. In fact, it's tomfoolery. It's yet another overpriced, wholly illogical push to "green" the planet -- to get us out of cars and packed into mass transit in order to halt the ocean's rise. Problem is, its fool's gold.
Problem #1: You still need cars
With planes, you need a friend or taxi to drop you off at the airport, then another pick you up on the other end. Same is true of trains. Unless the train station is walking distance from your home and walking distance to your place of employment or destination on the other end of the line, you now need not one automobile, but two, plus the train in the middle.
Problem #2: Trains stop along the way
Unlike with commercial flights, which can be had direct, a lengthy trip on a train is going to include periodic stops along the route, oftentimes negating the impact of its "high-speed" capabilities.
Included in the $787-billion "stimulus" package signed into law in 2009 was a $4-billion appropriation for a high-speed rail system called "Sunrail" to connect Orlando to Tampa (a 90-minute drive). These high-speed trains are purported to reach speeds of 140 mph -- a far greater speed than one can achieve on interstate highways. But the line is slated to have five stops along the route. Total estimated commute time via the "high-speed" train? About 86 minutes! Plus you need a car on the other end. In four more minutes, you could just drive it yourself and be in your own car!
Problem #3: The competition (jet airplanes)
Compared to air travel, trains stink. I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado. From here to Albuquerque is 380 miles -- about a five-and-a-half-hour drive. Let's say a high-speed train can cut that in half. Regional carriers like Southwest, JetBlue, and Frontier are constantly engaged in fare wars that place getting to Albuquerque in the $89 range. Eighty-nine bucks and you're there in 50 minutes! Jets are fast, safe, and inexpensive, and flights are plentiful. Why would I choose a train that stops every 100 miles to let people on and off and takes two or three hours when I can fly in less than half that time?
Problem #4: People don't ride them
Here's where the rubber really meets the road (pun intended): Americans love our cars. Despite the most valiant efforts of leftists like our president to break the love affair, it hasn't happened and won't happen. Cities, counties, and states everywhere have built train systems, touted them as being the latest greatest thing...and those trains run mostly empty. People simply do not want to use them. None of the administration's "save the Earth" green commercials, ever-escalating mandates on auto manufacturers, or back-breaking policies forcing gas prices into the stratosphere have mattered. We love to, want to, and will continue to drive our cars. Especially out here in the west, where the states are as big as the days are long. A tin-can electric car capable of lasting 60 miles before needing another charge is about as useful to a guy in Wyoming as a hammer is to a tuna fish.
It doesn't take a crystal ball to see where this is headed: yet another industry that will need to be kept afloat by taxpayer dollars because it cannot survive in the free market. Americans simply don't want more trains; we don't want to see hundreds of billions more debt added in order to build them, and who knows how much more to keep them running?
But then, we didn't want government-run health care. Or trillions of dollars of new debt. Or to be spied upon by our government. Or the IRS scrutinizing us because of our political leanings.
Causes one to wonder -- does what we want really matter anymore?