Sunday, February 20, 2005

Strange bedfellows

Jack Markowitz, the curmudgeonly and conservative retired Trib business editor, finds himself aghast to be opposed to one of the president's proposed budget cuts: the Amtrak subsidy. He makes a concise yet eloquent defense for continuing to subsidized the nation's beleaguered passenger rail system:

Rail travel gets a public contribution to ticket prices in even the countries with the best, fastest trains, such as Japan and France. In fact, all sorts of transportation receive subsidies overt or hidden.

U.S. rail travel might be kept on the shortest rations. Yet it's the last line of defense against dooming all inter-city travel to the automobile (fuel-wasting and smashup-prone), airlines (whipsawed by oil prices, security scares and socked-in airports) or buses (crowded and dingy at terminal level).

Like most of Bush's budget cuts, I suspect slashing the Amtrak subsidy is a bargaining chip or a way to shift blame to Congress for the nation's profligate spending. Northeastern lawmakers, whose constituents use Amtrak or who rely on it themselves, usually end up salvaging the railroad system. As Markowitz notes, Amtrak would be wise to eliminate some inefficiencies and, if money allows, to add lines at peak times that would attract more travelers. In any case, I agree that Amtrak is worth saving.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the feds put slots on the trains to make the scheme solvent, Jack will blow a blood vessel.

11:17 AM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

You know your Markowitz, I'll give you that.

11:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget, you can get onboard another train that just can't seem to leave the f-ing station:

That's right. There's a "grassroots" initiative underway to draft Kerry as the presidential hopeful for the Dems in 2008. We can then thank Iowa for screwing us with the worst candidate since McGovern.

You can even buy an f-ing blue bracelet ($1, for a candidate theoretically married to a billionaire) to help the cause.

It doesn't seem to be a hoax.

Buy bumper stickers, too!

Potts, please use your considerable power as a blogger to end this madness now.

5:39 PM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

The man is delusional on several levels.

7:50 PM

Blogger Cope said...

I personally think Amtrak should pay for itself by putting slot machines in the dining cars.

10:05 AM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

I'm sure if Jack knew what a blog was, he'd find this all very amusing.

12:03 PM


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