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Thread: Florida scraps high-speed rail plan pushed by Obama

  1. #191
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    Re: Florida scraps high-speed rail plan pushed by Obama

    Quote Originally Posted by VanceMack View Post
    The only problem with that is that people in the US generally dont adequately use mass transit. How expensive is AMTRAK? In Florida the rail proposal is ONLY from Tampa to Orlando at a current cost of 2.4 billion but projected cost of over 3 billion. So its great if you live in either location...but why should taxpayers in Montana be forced to foot the bill for an under-utilized in-state rail system? Im fine with the concept if citizens in Illinois and Colorado want to jointly fund a Chicago to Denver project.

    In case anyone has missed it, we are 14 trillion dollars in debt. The Florida project requires the state to pay for cost overruns for operating the rail for a minimum of 20 years (they are already paying 13 million a year above and beyond user fees to maintain their current rail system).

    We are a nation on crack when it comes to the fed spending taxpayer dollars.

    Reason Foundation - Florida Taxpayers Ultimately Responsible for Extra High-Speed Rail Costs
    AMTRAK is slow rail, the use of which for personal transport (as AMTRAK does) has fallen off quite a bit. But we're not talking about slow rail where it may take 15+ hours to get say from Denver to Chicago. We're talking high speed rail, where that becomes more like 4 hours. Under that condition, the high speed rail becomes a viable competitor to the airlines. Now, the current proposal may not link it as it should be. For my tastes, I would have rather seen a true high speed train backbone which started first by linking major cities across the States. That's when it becomes a big bonus (and it would be a big bonus). But if you start to put the infrastructure in place, it allows for expansion as well. I think we would in general greatly benefit from a true, national high speed rail system.
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  2. #192
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    Re: Florida scraps high-speed rail plan pushed by Obama

    Quote Originally Posted by Ikari View Post
    AMTRAK is slow rail, the use of which for personal transport (as AMTRAK does) has fallen off quite a bit. But we're not talking about slow rail where it may take 15+ hours to get say from Denver to Chicago. We're talking high speed rail, where that becomes more like 4 hours. Under that condition, the high speed rail becomes a viable competitor to the airlines. Now, the current proposal may not link it as it should be. For my tastes, I would have rather seen a true high speed train backbone which started first by linking major cities across the States. That's when it becomes a big bonus (and it would be a big bonus). But if you start to put the infrastructure in place, it allows for expansion as well. I think we would in general greatly benefit from a true, national high speed rail system.
    Much like how New York benefited when the city government took over the transit system? That was a big win for the city.

    Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false, and does not swear deceitfully. Psalm 24
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  3. #193
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    Re: Florida scraps high-speed rail plan pushed by Obama

    Quote Originally Posted by CriticalThought View Post
    I think it says a lot about how cowardly the GOP have become. Can you imagine how different the world would be if Eisenhower's interstate highway system had been seen as "too great a risk".
    It's all about gotcha politics. To most Rep leaders it's better to embarrass Obama and keep the unemployment rate above 8 percent, much more important than helping the people they represent,

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  4. #194
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    Re: Florida scraps high-speed rail plan pushed by Obama

    Quote Originally Posted by phattonez View Post
    If it's such a good idea then why aren't private companies jumping to build it?
    Private industry is not capable of doing the same things government can, and vice versa. The start up capital, land usage, and scale of the project is far too large for the private industry. You have to invest way too much start up capital, the project will take too long for a company to profit from it in the short term. There's no way for a private entity to survive while establishing a national high speed rail system. The government, on the other hand, is a stable entity not bound by losses and profits. Thus it is able to handle these large, aggregated systems.

    The same is true about scientific research. There are companies which do research specifically towards their engineering concerns. But the large bulk of actual scientific research is performed in government labs or academia. The days of Bell Labs is over. Scientific research is too much of an unknown for private industries. The monetary and time scales involved are too large to be handled, and there's no guarantee of profit on the other side. Because of this, it becomes infeasible for private industries to handle the necessary base science research which we need for continued growth and engineering products.
    You know the time is right to take control, we gotta take offense against the status quo

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  5. #195
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    Re: Florida scraps high-speed rail plan pushed by Obama

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    But the notion of "paying for itself" or "being profitable" is a red herring, because that's not the point of government services. The point of government services is to provide a benefit to society.
    It can only be a benefit to society if it is profitable. For a company building a rail line, the rail line itself may not be profitable, but by adding in rents that they collect from nearby properties that went up in value because of their train, it may be profitable and hence justified. Government has no such mechanism to ensure whether something is a good use of resources or not.

    A faster train would have more demand, because highway travel would no longer be viewed as a cheaper substitute.
    When you account for the fares, the fee for parking near the train station, the hassle in getting your luggage on the train, and the price of a rental car in the other city you're getting too (or some other mode of transprotation), the cost benefit is not so clear.

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    Re: Florida scraps high-speed rail plan pushed by Obama

    Quote Originally Posted by phattonez View Post
    Much like how New York benefited when the city government took over the transit system? That was a big win for the city.
    New York transit is a bit different than national high speed rail.
    You know the time is right to take control, we gotta take offense against the status quo

    Quote Originally Posted by A. de Tocqueville
    "I should have loved freedom, I believe, at all times, but in the time in which we live I am ready to worship it."

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    Re: Florida scraps high-speed rail plan pushed by Obama

    Quote Originally Posted by phattonez View Post
    It can only be a benefit to society if it is profitable.
    That's not true. Lots of things can be benefitial yet not turn a profit. Our military doesn't turn a profit, yet it is beneficial to have it. High speed rail doesn't need to be profitable to provide service and benefit to the People at large. It merely has to exist and be used.
    You know the time is right to take control, we gotta take offense against the status quo

    Quote Originally Posted by A. de Tocqueville
    "I should have loved freedom, I believe, at all times, but in the time in which we live I am ready to worship it."

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    Re: Florida scraps high-speed rail plan pushed by Obama

    Quote Originally Posted by phattonez View Post
    I'm going to have to claim an invalid conclusion. Private companies generally don't build these things because government usually provides these services and then subsidizes them. People who drive on roads subsidize those who drive on highways because they pay the same price via the gas tax. That would not happen in a market.
    There is no way that the builder of a private road could reap the benefits, short of installing a toll booth at every intersection...which would be horrendously inefficient from a societal/economic perspective. Government provides the service because it is unprofitable, not the other way around.

    Quote Originally Posted by phattonez
    Private companies could build these and reap all of the positive externalities they create by buying land near stations, much like how sports team owners own parking lots near their stadiums.
    They could, but the fact that they haven't should indicate that it isn't profitable for private enterprise to do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by phattonez View Post
    It can only be a benefit to society if it is profitable.
    Virtually nothing the government does is profitable, yet I'm sure that there are certain government functions you believe benefit society? To illustrate my point, some hypothetical numbers:

    COSTS:
    To the entity that builds it: $50 billion
    To the customers who use it: $10 billion (perhaps some modest user fees)

    BENEFITS:
    To the entity that builds it: $10 billion
    To the customers who use it: $200 billion

    These numbers are just an example so don't read anything into them, but my point is that the overall economic benefits of something can considerably outweigh the overall economic costs, without it being profitable for the entity who does it. In my example, whoever built the high-speed rail would be $40 billion in the hole for their troubles...but the ROA for the economy as a whole would be a whopping 250%.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 02-17-11 at 05:30 PM.
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  9. #199
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    Re: Florida scraps high-speed rail plan pushed by Obama

    Quote Originally Posted by phattonez View Post
    Much like how New York benefited when the city government took over the transit system? That was a big win for the city.
    NYC's transit system is great. I use it everytime I go to the city and I used it to get into the city when I lived in New Jersey.

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    Re: Florida scraps high-speed rail plan pushed by Obama

    Quote Originally Posted by Ikari View Post
    Private industry is not capable of doing the same things government can, and vice versa. The start up capital, land usage, and scale of the project is far too large for the private industry. You have to invest way too much start up capital, the project will take too long for a company to profit from it in the short term. There's no way for a private entity to survive while establishing a national high speed rail system. The government, on the other hand, is a stable entity not bound by losses and profits. Thus it is able to handle these large, aggregated systems.
    See the Route 91 Express Lanes which were built even though there was heavy government competition from route 91. Private companies can and do take up huge projects all the time.

    91 Express Lanes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    After all, it was private companies that built the subway system in New York, not the government.

    The same is true about scientific research. There are companies which do research specifically towards their engineering concerns. But the large bulk of actual scientific research is performed in government labs or academia. The days of Bell Labs is over. Scientific research is too much of an unknown for private industries. The monetary and time scales involved are too large to be handled, and there's no guarantee of profit on the other side. Because of this, it becomes infeasible for private industries to handle the necessary base science research which we need for continued growth and engineering products.
    The bulk of actual scientific research is performed in government labs because government provides a ton of money such that the profit of private investment is severely compromised. Private companies tend to piggy-back off of the research done in government labs. However, it's interesting to note that most of the supplies used in those labs comes from private companies.

    Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false, and does not swear deceitfully. Psalm 24
    "True law is right reason in agreement with nature . . . Whoever is disobedient is fleeing from himself and denying his human nature [and] will suffer the worst penalties . . ." - Cicero

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