Today’s major news story is the crash of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia, killing at least seven people and injuring many more, some critically. The crash had barely been reported before liberals on Twitter erupted with denunciations of Republicans. Why? Because the current House budget proposes cuts in federal support for Amtrak. How could that possibly relate to last night’s crash? Don’t expect logic from a liberal. Twitchy documented the dementia here and elsewhere.
Then it came out that the train was traveling around 106 miles per hour, entering a curve in a 50 mile per hour zone. It seems unlikely that the crash had anything to do with “infrastructure,” the liberals’ magic word. So, are liberals cowed at being not just wrong, but ghoulishly wrong? Not a bit of it. It doesn’t matter what the question is, the liberal’s answer is always the same: money. Specifically, government money.
Politico is among the worst offenders. There is a certain irony in these three stories perching one above the other on Politico’s main page: House panel votes to cut Amtrak budget hours after deadly crash; Analysis: GOP cuts to transportation, housing draw fire; and Derailed Amtrak was likely traveling at twice recommended speed.
Politico is a mouthpiece for the Washington establishment, where all spending is good spending. But the anti-Republican theme was picked up by many other news outlets, like Reuters: “Amtrak crash throws spotlight on funding disputes; Republicans back cuts.” And the New York Daily News: “Deadly malfeasance: Amtrak passengers paid with their lives for Washington’s neglect of transportation.”
All of this is sheer fantasy, especially since the NTSB barely begun its investigation. No one knows what factors contributed to the crash, and the one blindingly obvious fact is that the engineer, who, accompanied by his lawyer, declined to give a statement to investigators, apparently had the train going more than 100 miles per hour. But if you are a Democrat, you never let facts stand in the way of appropriations.
The real question is, why is the federal government in the railroad business at all? Far more people are killed in automobile accidents than train crashes, but no one says the problem is that the federal government doesn’t pay enough money to car companies. If Amtrak can’t operate safely–reasonably safely, since nothing is absolutely safe–based on the revenue it gets from customers, it should go out of business, like any other company.
Here is another question: why should businessmen, journalists, lobbyists and politicians who commute between Washington and points north have their travel costs subsidized by taxpayers? Train travel costs what it costs. Those who ride the trains should pay those costs, just like those who fly in airplanes. It is absurd that the richest and most powerful companies in the United States have their employees’ travel costs subsidized by you and me. This is cronyism at its worst. Amtrak should be a wholly private enterprise. Having ridden that Northeastern line that goes to Washington a number of times, I think it has great advantages over air travel and could easily charge enough money to be profitable in competent hands.
Not only profitable, but safe.