Saturday, February 12, 2005

all aboard

Good survey on the the multiplicity of issues swirling around the economy this year here:

Investment 2005: Assessing the Petroleum Factor

Seperately, Common Dreams runs the occasional peak related article, and one on Amtrak caught my eye:

Bush Tries to Run Amtrak Out of Town

The goal is to drive the train system into bankruptcy, from which it would theoretically emerge leaner and more efficient, or to force the states to take over interstate rail travel. The result would be disastrous, however, and is guaranteed to leave whole swaths of the country without reliable train service.

The Bushies are doing this partly for ideological reasons: smaller government, less drain on the taxpayers' pocketbooks, the argue. They say Amtrak has failed in the open market by not generating enough revenue to support itself. But the argument is a scam. Republicans claim the airlines and the highway systems are self-supporting - the airlines through ticket taxes and the highways through gasoline taxes, while Amtrak is like the lazy brother on welfare. In fact, the airlines and highways are subsidized by billions of taxpayer dollars.

Peak Oil is guaranteed to do at least one thing. Fuel Costs will drive most airlines out of business and put air travel out of reach for most people. Airlines are teetering now, with oil costs at what, 35 dollars a barrel in 1999 dollars?

So privatizing Amtrak by driving it out of business (a side effect of which will be degraded infrastructure) is absurd.

Nonetheless, if Amtrak is in fact privatized, that might be a company to add to your peak investment portfolio.


At 1:19 PM, February 18, 2005, Blogger dread pirate roberts said...

i have taken amtrak several times in the past year, and checked reservation space for a future trip. its booked pretty solidly quite a ways in advance. they do have what i think is a stupid policy of raising prices the closer to departure date you book. the trains do however seem to be mostly filled.

we met nice people on a relaxing trip. the staff were all great. i love the train.

At 8:46 PM, February 18, 2005, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

Yes, I consider the trains to be part of our social space - a public commons - and they will be vastly less expensive to run in a declining energy world than airplanes.

As usual, the Bush Admin is pushing my buttons.


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