As noted in Episode 6 of the MRC’s analysis of Marxism-collectivism, “College Unbound,” in his 1848 screed, “The Communist Manifesto,” Karl Marx called for government control of travel.
In American history, government slowly instituted this idea, from the replacement of what were privately created and run roads that didn’t take land through eminent domain or tax people for their use, to the insane “interstate highway” system imposed in the mid-20thCentury that saw an “interstate highway” in HAWAII. The FDR-adoring Feds also established the FAA, taking over air routes that are supposed to be handled through private, free market means. Then, in 1970, President Nixon and the incorrigibly anti-constitutional Congress moved ahead with plans to create AMTRAK, a tax-funded insertion of the US government into rail travel – an insertion that has never turned a profit.
So, what better way to continue in that failed collectivist tradition than to add a possible $75 billion to Amtrak’s monetary drug habit, and grant it the power to claim “priority” on PRIVATE rail lines?
With ‘Amtrak Joe’ at the helm, America's premier passenger rail service is going for broke with the release of its 15-year ‘Corridor Vision.’ The company's plan, which was published yesterday, calls for service improvements along 25 existing routes, the creation of another 39, and the expansion of service to 160 new cities across the country.
You read that correctly. AMTRAK wants to expand.
It has been a failure from year one.
It wants to expand.
Not only would a private company that failed year after year NOT be able to expand, it would have gone out of business, and the resources fed to it sent to more productive endeavors, long, long ago.
It’s easy to envision AMTRAK trains like giant leeches, sucking the financial lifeblood from generations of Americans, even as AMTRAK lobbies for more, and politicians claim that the rails help “the economy.”
The only things AMTRAK benefits – all at the expense of others – are subsidized passengers and those with businesses near the routes, those who might see more traffic brought to them via this subsidy-fed passenger population.
And those payments are vast. Writes Britschgi:
Prior to the pandemic, Amtrak was receiving roughly $2 billion in federal subsidies each year. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March 2020 gave the company another $1 billion in bailout funds. The American Rescue Plan, passed in March 2021, gave it another $1.69 billion.
Heck, it’s almost as if Karl Marx were in charge.
But wait, there’s more!
We’re talking the AMTRAK leviathan pushing freight trains off private tracks.
Amtrak also wants Congress to give it greater powers to expand its operations onto privately-owned ‘host railroads’ and to sue railroad owners who don't sufficiently prioritize passenger trains over freight rail trains.
About 70 percent of the miles Amtrak trains travel are on these privately owned freight railroads, according to the Association of American Railroads. Opening up new routes, as the Corridor Vision calls for, would see Amtrak run even more trains on these privately-owned tracks, where they'd potentially be displacing lots of freight traffic.
And Britschgi chats with Marc Scribner, a senior transportation policy analyst at the Reason Foundation.
’When Amtrak is talking about expanding service, they're not talking about building parallel track,’ says Scribner. ‘Whenever we're talking about Amtrak service expansion, the other side of that is freight rail service degradation.'
Scribner notes that private, profitable freight rail companies also transport tonnage with far lower emissions than trucks. Should more passenger rail service lead to more freight being shipped on highways, that would count against Amtrak's own goals of more environmentally-friendly transportation.
Of course, those are “stated” goals, not real goals in any way.
The goal of AMTRAK is self-perpetuation, as it is with virtually all political creations that live like cancers off the productive output of voluntary endeavors in the free market.
AMTRAK boosters don’t have any idea how destructive the system is. In fact, notes Britschgi:
President Joe Biden, a longtime booster of Amtrak, has proposed spending $80 billion on the company as part of his $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan. Republicans have proposed a more modest $46 billion for passenger and freight rail, or $22 billion above current spending levels, in their latest infrastructure proposal.
Remember that when thinking about the US Constitution and those who purport to swear by it, because there’s no constitutional power granted the feds to run a passenger transportation system, or subsidize one, or fund research for one. The fact that Republicans are willing to pick American pockets to the tune of $46 billion should be seen for the criminally immoral act that it is, and not a relatively “better option” than the Democrat scheme.
If more folks recognized the fact that AMTRAK is both a massive boondoggle and an immoral, unconstitutional imposition, a lot of people would be a lot better off. No public rail system ever has run in the black. The only way to find out if something is productive is to allow people to be free NOT to subsidize it.