Monthly Archives: April 2005

Amtrak Subsidies

The New York Times editorialized today about the need for the federal government to continue subsidizing Amtrak:

For some time, the Bush administration has pushed for Amtrak reforms, which almost everybody supports in principle. But the administration’s most recent proposal is more like a death sentence – a slow dismantling of Amtrak into regional services while costs currently paid by the federal government would be forced onto cash-starved states. The fatal flaw in the administration’s thinking is the idea that the railroad should be self-sufficient. That’s impractical and unnecessary, given the benefits it provides in taking cars off congested highways and offering an alternative to air service in the post-9/11 era.

Sorry, this is a bit hard to say but the bushies may be right on this one. There is no good reason for “cash-starved” states to pick up the tab for anything either. The various government entities do not need to be in the theme park business.
If Amtrak really does an effective job of getting cars off crowded highways and is a meaningful alternative to the airlines (which I doubt) then for those routes where this is true it should be able to be self sustaining.

Buying Access

Both dems and repubs participate in corporate shakedowns, you know, something that was once called extortion. But that doesn’t make it right.
I suspect that the bushies actions related to Inter-American Telecommunications Commission meeting are not unique:

At least four of the two dozen or so U.S. delegates selected for the meeting, sources tell TIME, have been bumped by the White House because they supported John Kerry’s 2004 campaign.
The State Department has traditionally put together a list of industry representatives for these meetings, and anyone in the U.S. telecom industry who had the requisite expertise and wanted to go was generally given a slot, say past participants. Only after the start of Bush’s second term did a political litmus test emerge, industry sources say.

The Left Coaster notes:

Remember, to the Bush White House, unquestioning loyalty to George W. Bush always trumps what’s good for American business.

And I wouldn’t conflate what’s good for American business with what’s good for the American people.
An excellent way to eliminate this kind of administration behavior would be to eliminate all corporate contributions from the election process. The US government is, after all, supposed to be a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
Update (4/26): Mark Kleiman puts a related post in his Corruption in Washington category.