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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Tale of Two Administrations

When faced with economic crisis in 2001, the Bush administration encouraged Americans to go shopping.  When this proved ineffective at rectifying what ailed the economy, the Bush administration pushed through tax rebates using borrowed Chinese money to encourage Americans to buy Chinese-made energy-guzzling flat screens and cheap plastic shit.  It was typical "if it feels good, do it" Republican philosophy.  There was a short uptick in the economy followed by crash.

Now, we have to deal with the results of that crash, and the Obama administration proposed among other things, this:

They put forward a wide-ranging plan for regional networks of high-speed rail linked together by traditional rail networks.  The East Coast megalopolis extended past DC all the way to Savannah (with a link to Montreal!).  All the major burghs of the midwest linked by a hub at Chi-town.  And, my personal favorite, the Empire State Express linking NYC to Buffalo along the storied route of the Erie Canal.  This is an investment in meaningful 21st century regional infrastructure (Richard Florida probably shat his pants when he saw this)--a way of reducing our dependence on expensive and dangerous foreign fossil fuels.

Two concerns.  High-speed rail is too slow.  We really should be building at least one of these lines as a bullet train or mag-lev.   Not only will this create extremely fast routes but it will be an important investment American companies involved in these fields-- fields where we currently trail the Germans, Japanese and even Chinese.  Secondly, the New York-Buffalo route should extend all the way to Toronto-- ask Richard Florida.

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