You red-staters really should be more generous in subsidizing the northeastern professional class, you know.
— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) May 13, 2015
There are 184 congressional districts in which not one person got on or off a train in 2014. 116 are currently represented by Republicans.
— Alex Wagner (@alexwagner) May 13, 2015
Amtrak routes span the country but the Boston/New York/D.C. line is where most of the passengers are. If there’s any cohort that can likely afford to pay extra for a train ticket, it’s the finance/media/government pros who use Amtrak to conduct business. As it is, taxpayers nationwide pour money every year into this federal sinkhole hoping that it’ll eventually be able to pay its own way and every year they’re disappointed, with tens of billions of dollars in losses on the service’s ledger to date. John Nolte has a nice list of fun facts about Amtrak that I recommend reading as the babbling about infrastructure grows louder. Number seven is my favorite, although knowing that taxpayers pay roughly half the cost of each passenger’s ticket is enjoyable too as the media grumbles about Republican deadbeats not picking up even more of their monthly transportation expenses.
I like Mollie Hemingway’s take on this. Maybe this morning’s complaints about that horrific derailment have less to do with proper levels of spending on rail and more with appeasing the government volcano god who gets angry when the fiscal sacrifices of his subjects aren’t lavish enough.
The theodicy of federal government requires an explanation that defends the goodness of government control or subsidies into the given sphere. So just as some religious groups might blame a weather event on insufficient fealty to the relevant god, some progressives blame — before the National Transportation Safety Board has even shown up on site to investigate the cause of a crash — insufficient fealty, sacrifice and offerings to the relevant god of federal government.
Yes, it’s annoying how some progressives politicize everything. But if it’s understood as a sort of primitive religious reaction to confusion about holy government’s many failures, it at least helps explain why they do it.
Maybe if we’d doubled Amtrak’s funding the volcano god would have been happy and the conductor would have taken that curve last night at 50 mph instead of the 100+ he was apparently doing. (107 mph to be exact, apparently.) The only way to keep your conscience clear after a calamity, to know for certain in your heart that you bear no responsibility for what happened, is to be able to say that you gave to the volcano whatever it was that the left asked of you. As it is, it seems that we all, collectively, took that curve at 107, my friends.