High speed rail lines have come in for special criticism by a loose confederation of libertarians, fiscal conservatives, and critics of the President. A side benefit to such criticism is the opportunity to lampoon the always compliant Joe Biden, Amtrak's most famous customer. Such criticism (of high speed rail, that is--criticism of Biden is always appropriate) seems misguided to me. Here's why.
1. Conservatives should all agree that there are few things the government ought to do. Among them however, must be a dedication to enhancing commerce. Investments in transportation infrastructure that move freight and people more efficiently across this great land fall squarely into the category of "things the federal government ought to be doing."
2. To the extent that certain high-speed rail lines have come under special criticism for the routes they take, I would point to the construction of the interstate highway system as an example of the "if you build it they will come" theory. Let's face it--if folks are going to complain about the cost of high speed rail, and then also complain about where it is put--then they've neatly stymied the entire conversation. OF COURSE we would all love bullet trains in the Northeast Corridor. But have you ridden the rails between DC and Connecticut lately? Going 60 mph on that infrastructure often seems unsafe, let alone 190mph. The expenses associated with high-speeding already densely populated areas make lines like the one in Florida and in Nevada seem cheap by comparison.
3. Let us not forget the national greatness side of this, shall we? What exactly did the average Joe get out of going to the Moon? Zilch, nada, nil, nul. He got a great sense of pride, but he didn't get a trip there. He didn't sit atop the rocket. But CW, what about all the great technology that was spun off from the space program? What about all the jobs that were created in high technology to support the space program.....see where I'm going with this? If you think that government has no ability and no role in "priming the pump", well then you will see no value in my thinking. But if you think the government has SOME role and SOME value in such things, but that such activities should almost always be associated with 1) national defense or 2) the promotion of commerce, maybe you'll come around to it.