Government waste from my home town

Posted by Jason | Posted in Economics, Global Warming | Posted on 12-11-2009


In my home town, they have been talking about a Maglev train for years now. Here is an example of government waste at it’s finest.

It’s argued that a multibillion-dollar, taxpayer-fleecing Pittsburgh maglev line would make the region the epicenter for this technology across the country. Except the country needs maglev as much as it needs more debt.

In remarks last week to state lawmakers, Randal O’Toole of the Cato Institute explained why expensive high-speed magnetic-levitation trains are beyond the realm of reasonable implementation.

Just ask China.

The 19-mile maglev line from Pudong Airport to downtown Shanghai rarely sees more than one out of four seats filled, says Mr. O’Toole, an expert in transportation issues. Which explains why China opted for less costly conventional high-speed trains between Shanghai and Beijing.

A $5 billion-plus proposed line between Pittsburgh International Airport and Greensburg wouldn’t fare better.

Even an optimistic projection of 28,000 round-trip passengers daily is a fraction of Pittsburgh travelers, O’Toole said. Moreover, research shows rail service to U.S. airports typically carries only 2 percent to 15 percent of air travelers, he said.

And because maglev uses vastly more energy than conventional high-speed trains, it produces that much more pollution, according to the Center for Clean Air Policy.

Economically and environmentally, Pennsylvania can’t afford to be taken for maglev’s ride.

via Maglev’s myth – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

$5 billion for an train from Greensburg to the Airport? This will do absolutely nothing to boost the economy. The $5 billion would have to be taken from the pockets of productive citizens to fund a useless train. Those people who have been robbed would have used $5 billion for purposes that would result in economic value and job creation. Instead, slime ball politicians believe their pet projects are more important.

If the Maglev was such an economic boon, the private sector would be producing it already. Instead the free market and entreprenuers would use that money for other more profitable ventures. Those ventures would create more wealth and more jobs. Central planning resulted in disaster for Soviet economies, but yet here we are, the supposed capitalist country doing the exact same thing.

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Comments (4)

One needs to realize that the Shanghai maglev system is a demonstration of the technology. People travel far and wide to ride it and marvel at the far sightedness of its promoters. One of four seats occupied on average is fairly normal for an urban system. (This could be cut to 1 in 2 by removing half the cars in the train, but it probably wouldn’t save much.) In any event it does not make much sense to compare a long distance train with an urban demonstration. The real question is whether 500 km/h intercity maglev is that much more expensive than 300 km/h high speed rail.

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John, the far sightedness of the promoters is in question to me. No one is more far sighted and innovative than the entrepreneur. Government is very short sighted. One only need to look at the disasterous programs they enacted. Government redirects resources from their best economic value to projects that they believe make more sense. Central planning never works better than the market. If there is a problem with travel in Pittsburgh between Greensburg and the Airport, there is profit to be made, and businesses will deliver a solution. I am not debating the technology or cost of one train or another. I’m debating the need for one at all.

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Unfortunately the market is concerned only with profit. It takes the government to promote the general welfare, without which most of us would be victims of the greedy, living at a subsistence level.

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You are wrong that the market is only concerned with profit. The market is made up of people seeking their self interest. That self interest maybe profit. It may also be altruism.

You talk about people as if they are evil and of the government as if it is made of up of angels. Government is force. Victims can only come from someone inflicting forced action. Force can only come from criminals and the government. Look at the worse actions that result in victims, such as slavery, and you will see that the government promoted the victimization.

If government stuck to its logical role of being an institution to prevent force, you would not have these victims. They would have prevented forced slavery. Instead they legalized slavery.

By your logic that the government’s role is to promote the general welfare, you are setting up victims. In your definitition of general welfare, the government must take from one by force and give to another. That is a very immoral belief. You are setting up sacrificial lambs.

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