The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

I Don’t Hate Trains

Posted on | March 10, 2011 | 34 Comments

“What, exactly, do Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians have against trains? Seriously, what?”
David Weigel, Slate

Few things — not even the threat of a coffee shortage — bother me quite so much as what I call the Existential Theory of Liberalism:

Everything that exists must be subsidized by the federal government; ergo, to argue against government subsidies for something is to advocate the abolition of that thing.

The Existential Theory of Liberalism can be seen in action whenever any conservative proposes reducing federal expenditures for, say, the National Endowment for the Arts, and is therefore accused by liberals of being “anti-art.” By the same token, if you criticize the federal Department of Education, you are “anti-education,” and if you oppose using taxpayer dollars to fund embryonic stem-cell research, you are “anti-science.”

(Don’t attempt to use this trick against liberals, however, or you will discover that turnabout is not fair play: If you accuse liberals of being “anti-religious” because they oppose prayer in public schools, they will then accuse you of being a fanatical theocrat who wishes to “impose your beliefs” on others. Of course, liberals routinely use government subsidies to impose their beliefs on the rest of us: “stimulus” grants for gay pornography, anyone? Liberals fervently believe in sodomy, and therefore insist that taxpayers foot the bill to promote their favorite pastime, but I digress …)

When my buddy Dave sent me his train story from Slate — and you really should read the whole thing, which isn’t all bad — I felt obligated to reply by e-mail:

I don’t hate trains. I also don’t hate windmills, ethanol, “All Things Considered” or any of the other things that are subsidized with federal tax dollars because there is not enough market demand for them to be otherwise economically viable. It is an error of logic to conflate opposition to subsidies with “hate” for the thing subsidized.
I do, however, admit to hating Auburn University, “performance artists” and the United Nations, all of which get federal subsidies.

Meanwhile, Philip Klein has an article at The American Spectator about the recent epidemic of train-mania among liberals:

“Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail,” President Obama declared in his State of the Union address, making it the most ambitious element of his vision for “winning the future.”
Invoking national pride, Obama mused that “America is the nation that built the transcontinental railroad, brought electricity to rural communities, constructed the interstate highway system.” Sadly, he lamented, the U.S. now lags behind Europe, Russia, and China in modern transportation infrastructure.
If the nation met his goal for high-speed rail adoption, he said, “This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying — without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already under way.”
To most Americans, the passing reference to California was likely an afterthought, lost amid all the dreamy rhetoric of rebuilding the nation. But upon closer inspection, the state’s proposed high-speed rail system serves as a perfect example of the gap between the promise of transformational liberalism and the reality of big government. Taxpayers everywhere should pay attention, because the project has already been granted $3.2 billion in federal funds, mostly through Obama’s economic stimulus package — and its backers hope to gobble up billions more over the next decade.
The $43 billion transportation project to link Los Angeles to San Francisco with a bullet train by 2020 would be considered grandiose during the plushest of times, yet it’s being pursued during an era when governments at all levels are mired in deep fiscal crises. The plan has been subject to a series of scathing reports by independent analysts, raising concerns about everything from its cost estimates to its business model. The University of California at Berkeley has questioned its lofty ridership projections. And even the Washington Post has editorialized against it.
Although voters in the financially strapped Golden State approved a ballot measure in 2008 authorizing up to $9.9 billion in bonds to build the rail system, the project has encountered a lot of opposition as it has progressed. Several cities are suing to prevent the trains from tearing through their downtowns. Farmers are worried that the tracks will carve up their land. Some environmental groups normally predisposed to supporting high-speed rail have turned against the proposed route, fearing its effects on undeveloped areas. When the High-Speed Rail Authority announced that the initial section of the line would be built in the state’s less inhabited Central Valley region, many were puzzled as to why they didn’t begin by connecting large cities with more potential riders. As a result, critics dubbed it the “train to nowhere.” . . .

You must read the whole thing, because it was written by Philip Klein, who is Jewish. If you don’t read it, that means you hate Jews.

Oh, wait. I’m sorry. I unexpectedly lapsed into thinking like a liberal for a moment, which reminds me of another patented trick of Liberal Logic™ — the Just-Like-Hitler Theory of Republican Policy.

We’ve recently seen this employed in Wisconsin, where GOP state legislators passed a bill to limit the power of government-employee labor unions, resulting in this predictable accusation: “Republicans hate unions! You know who else hated unions? Hitler!”

But as usual, no fair turning this trick against liberals, although it would be pretty easy.

I mean, c’mon: How did Hitler use trains? To ship Jews to death camps!

No wonder Phil hates trains . . .


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