John Stossel: Making you pay for trains to nowhere
Both parties now agree that we don't have extra budget money lying around, but both say government does need to spend more on "infrastructure."
The reason, advocates claim, is that infrastructure, unlike most government spending, has a "multiplier effect" — it creates new wealth by doing things like speeding up travel.
Advocates also point out something that seems obvious to them: Infrastructure is a job that must be done by government. Who else would launch big projects like the New York City subway system? Subways are what Big Government supporters call a "public good."
Most of New York's subways were actually built by private companies. Few New Yorkers even know that. Private companies dug the first tunnels and ran the trains for about 40 years.
He also said, "Private investors will be part of the mix." But when I asked if any have invested so far, he said, "Not at this time."
Lytton also claimed that California's Amtrak trains are "packed." So we investigated that claim. It turns out to be far from the truth. On average, California's Amtrak trains are one third full.
America does need mass transit. Three hundred million people need to go places. Roads are congested. Who will provide it when government drives transit entrepreneurs out of the business?
Buses, privately owned buses, are now the fastest growing mass transit in America. Buses are much cheaper than trains. Amtrak charges about $150 to ride from New York to D.C. Buses charge less than $20. And buses don't require new land seizure through eminent domain. Buses aren't locked into straight-line routes. They go where people go. And when people move, buses, unlike trains, change routes.
John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed."
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