Friday, September 2, 2016

Jacob G. Hornberger: Sell Amtrak

  If we learned anything from the 20th century, it’s that socialism is a disaster. It never works. It never has worked. It  never will work. It is an inherently defective system.

  So, why is it then that Americans continue to embrace socialist programs?

  Among the best examples of this phenomenon is Amtrak, the government-owned and government-operated passenger train service.

  Recently Amtrak received a $2.45 billion “loan” from the Transportation Department.

  That’s a real joke.  Amtrak has never made a profit in its 45-year existence. It’s not going to make a profit in the future. So, why would anyone expect it to pay back that “loan”? Indeed, why would anyone lend a penny, much less $2.45 billion, to a deadbeat enterprise that has never made a profit?

  In actuality, there isn’t any loan at all. Keep in mind that we are talking about one federal government, which is composed of the Transportation Department, Amtrak, the Pentagon, the CIA, the NSA, and all the other agencies and departments in the federal government that are spending money like it was going out of style. The notion that one federal agency is making a “loan” to another federal agency is ludicrous. It’s like taking money from your right pocket and lending it to your left pocket.

  That $2.45 billion “loan” is just another $2.45 billion in expenditures by a federal government that continues to threaten America with national bankruptcy with its out-of-control federal spending.

  So, why go through this “loan” nonsense? It’s trickery designed to mislead people, so that they don’t recognize that the federal government that is spending out the kazoo (and which just raised the debt ceiling not too long ago) has just added a whopping $2.45 billion onto the ever-growing amount of federal debt that is hanging over the American people. It’s the same type of trickery that is used to induce people into thinking that they putting their Social Security taxes into some sort of retirement fund when in reality those Social Security tax revenues are being spent on socialist projects like Amtrak, regulatory projects like the drug war, interventionist projects like bombing and assassinating people in the Middle East, and other welfare-warfare state programs of the federal government.

  Defending Amtrak, one member of Congress suggested that without it, Interstate Highway 95, which runs along the Eastern Seaboard, would become like a parking lot. What he fails to note, however, is that it was that socialist public-works boondoggle that helped put private passenger train service out of business. If the Interstate Highway System had never been built, transportation would have developed in a more balanced way, possibly with first-rate private train service playing a major role in America’s transportation system. The government’s construction of the enormously expensive Interstate Highway System operated as an enormous subsidy to the automobile industry and, at the same time, gave rise to an enormous number of cars crowding local streets, polluting the environment, and destroying private passenger train service.

  There is something else to consider: The U.S. Constitution does not authorize the federal government to own and operate a train service.

  What should be done with Amtrak? The same thing that should be done with every other socialist enterprise: Sell it to the highest bidder. If it can’t compete in the marketplace, then it goes out of business. Why should Americans be forced to subsidize a socialist enterprise just because consumers might not patronize it if it were private? Why shouldn’t consumers, rather than the government, be sovereign when it comes to economic activity?

  It’s time for Americans to embrace our heritage of economic liberty, private property, and limited government and reject socialism in all its variations. Selling off Amtrak would be a great place to start.

  About the author: Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

  This article was published by The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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