The same policymakers who wanted to shut down the American economy indefinitely to save only one from dying with Covid have refused to shut down the increasingly dangerous and costly government-backed monopoly, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, better known as Amtrak. Instead of leading with policy improvements, American leaders prefer to confuse the nation with weak virtues. Unless the Federal Reserve brings inflation under control, however, the only real virtue will be to increase economic efficiency through bold reforms, including (second) selling Amtrak to the highest bidder.
On the weekend before the 2022 Independence Day holiday, an Amtrak train hit a car in California, killing three and injuring two. Another derailment in Missouri killed multiple passengers and injured many more. Accidents can never be completely eliminated, but Amtrak’s record is worse than in other countries, especially because of its snail speed. Sport trains from other economically developed countries travel at hundreds of miles per hour with very good safety records. Eastern European trains are also safer than Amtrak, even suitable for passenger mile travel.
In terms of tax dollars, Amtrak’s overall performance is extremely poor. Passengers pay a hefty fee for their tickets, but travelers on the Northeast Corridor route subsidize travelers to the vast west of America. And all Americans subsidize Amtrak by increasing bailouts. Amtrak leaders have learned, for example, that they could spend $ 450 million in 11 years to save more than a minute and a half of Acela passengers running from Philly to New York and will not be fired for it. Since the formation of Amtrak in 1970-71, annual taxpayer subsidies have averaged more than বিল 1 billion.
Why was Amtrak Hate created at all and why? America, after all, led the world in both freight and passenger rail services for fierce competition between numerous privately owned and operated railway corporations.
Wilma Sauss (1900-1986), PR Hughes, corporate bigwig nemesis, and an upcoming biography of me and John Traflett of Bucknell University, was a big fan of passenger rail. In his youth, he regularly traveled by train between his native San Francisco and his grandparents’ homes in New York City. During World War II, he traveled by rail between Manhattan and Detroit and worked as a PR for Bud after the war for the Philadelphia-based passenger train car manufacturer Bud. After Robert R. Young failed to turn around on the New York Central Railway in the late 1950s, he counted the days of the passenger train.
In the early 1960s, Sauss protested against railway employees who attended their annual stockholder meeting in Chicago. Instead of fighting for the long-term health of their industry, as many executives have seen for short-term gains, investors will be cursed. According to Sauce on his nationally syndicated NBC radio show, Young committed suicide after receiving a note from an elderly widow who mourned the loss of most of his investment in the Flying Railroad.
Not that the collapse of the industry was Young’s fault. In the early 1960s, railroads faced numerous competitors, especially Eisenhower’s heavily subsidized interstate highway system. Nevertheless, certain intercity passenger rail routes, too close for planes and too much traffic for cars, make good economic money. Regulators, however, derail the innovation between controlling ticket prices and rising costs, and reduce rail profits. The onset of great inflation hastened the destruction of the once powerful industry, and the nationalization of its remnants provoked Amtrak hatred.
Fifty years later, the U.S. government has proven itself incapable of running railways like the Soviet Union. It should deregulate intercity passenger rail travel and sell all Amtrak to the second highest bidder at the sale seal-bid auction. The income, which will be enough, could be used to plug deficit holes and perhaps pay off some of the national debt. A sale would free the American people from the cost of subsidizing Amtrak in the future and the shame of its ruthless existence.
Great Brandon inflation, aka climate change and epidemic overactive inflation, promises a lot of pain to Americans, especially if more employers are not aware of the need to implement COLA. But if freedom-lovers are awakened to the view that a good crisis does not go in vain, some regulatory improvement may occur, if it is now politically expedient to reduce prices without deficits for any other reason.
During the great inflation of 1970, for example, the price of air tickets (1978) and the brokerage commission (May Day 1975) were deregulated. Increased competition has created rapid skill improvements that allow for real price reductions in both industries.
With the current rise in gasoline prices and air ticket prices, and the lessons learned about the disadvantages of price control, I hope that the reform of the intercity passenger rail may take place in America in the near future. While trains are not particularly good for the environment, many people assume that they are “green”, also signaling some fake qualities that many American politicians seem to aspire to.