Sunday, March 06, 2005

Pay Your Own Way Or Get Off the Train

Communism may not be dead yet, but at least it is in the throes of agony, and that is a good thing. The Tribune-Review reports this morning on the cuts in Amtrak service in Pittsburgh. Once upon a time, several passenger rail routes came through town. Passenger service was viable, and the most common means of transportation across the country. In the mid-20th century, airlines began taking business away from the railroads, and the personal automobile became a more popular option for business trips and family vacations. Dozens of railroads went bankrupt, resulting in mergers that have resulted in only three major rail systems in the United States.

Amtrak was created by the federal government in the wake of thee bankruptcies of the late 1960s; no one could afford to provide passenger service and stay in business. For over three decades, Amtrak has survived through government funding more than through income from passenger fares. Each year, the budget gets tighter and Amtrak supporters moan about the greedy federal government not doing enough to help.

Do I really need to bring up the fact that "government funding" is just a euphemism for money stolen from working Americans? This is tyranny. The people who want to save Amtrak do not understand this. Here's a quote from the article:

"People from across the state will lose direct service," said Robert Abraham, a regional director for the National Association of Railroad Passengers, who lives in Monroeville. "It's really something that affects a lot of people."
Of course, he refers to the people who plan to ride the train. But what about the millions of taxpayers who have unwillingly paid into the federal government's failed business for thirty-five years? Keeping Amtrak in existence is "really something that affects a lot of people." President Bush has tried not to cut the cord completely, but he has indicated that Amtrak needs to go elsewhere for money:

Loyal passengers have greater concerns than the fate of Pittsburgh service with massive cuts proposed in President Bush's $2.57 trillion budget.

The Bush plan would add $360 million to the Surface Transportation Board's budget so it could maintain commuter rail service in big cities. But the president wants state and local subsidies to help pay for rail service.

Ultimately, it all comes down to making it affordable. If people really want to take the train, they should be willing to pay whatever it costs. Cutting the budget and reducing taxes might be a nice way to start; a lot of us could afford to improve our quality of life if allowed to keep all of our own money. Instead, we might as well just take the train. We are paying for it already, anyway.

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