Government Rail to the Edge of the Abyss

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Compliments of Cons.Underground.

From now until the day our entire economy collapses under the weight of government debt is a wonderful time to be a corrupt bureaucrat or crony capitalist, as made obvious by Comrade Obama’s recently announced “high speed” rail boondoggle:

At Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station on Tuesday, lifelong government rail promoter Vice President Joe Biden unveiled a $53 billion high-speed train initiative and half-joked: “I’m like the ombudsman for Amtrak.” As with most gaffetastic Biden-isms, the remark should prompt more heartburn than hilarity. Just who exactly is looking out for taxpayers when it comes to federal rail spending?

Not government watchdogs. That could prove harmful to their careers.

In June 2009, longtime veteran Amtrak inspector general Fred Weiderhold was abruptly “retired” — just as the government-subsidized rail service faced mounting complaints about its meddling in financial audits and probes. He had blown the whistle on overzealous intrusion by the agency’s Law Department into his investigations of $1.3 billion in rail stimulus money and exposed how Amtrak’s legal counsel had usurped the watchdog’s $5 million portion of federal stimulus dollars to hamstring his probes. Even more threatening to the Democratic attorneys’ cabal, Weiderhold discovered that the federal rail bureaucracy was retaining outside law firms beyond the independent watchdog’s reach and obstructing subpoenas issued to an outside financial adviser. …

Compounding matters now, cronyism runs rampant in the federal rail bureaucracy. Biden’s lobbyist son, Hunter, sits on the Amtrak board of directors. Amtrak Vice President Eleanor Acheson is a close pal of — you guessed it — Joe Biden. She oversees the very Law Department accused of interfering repeatedly with the taxpayer advocates in the inspector general’s office. Acheson hired Biden’s former Senate staffer Jonathan Meyer as her deputy general counsel. Meyer called it a “happy coincidence.”

Crony capitalist GE is recouping its investment in Obama’s presidency in spades:

In another such fortuitous coincidence, one of the top beneficiaries of the new White House rail bailout is GE Transportation — the leading manufacturer of diesel-electric locomotives.

The Foundry notes that you shouldn’t take seriously the rhetoric about the “high speed” rail being high speed:

The “high speed” adjective invokes thoughts of bullet trains speeding at 150 mph, 200 mph or more. The reality of Obama’s plan is — at best — the 85 mph that is the average speed of America’s fastest train, the Amtrak-run Acela.

When Obama claims his trains would reach 100 mph and more, he’s talking about peak speed reached only for short stretches, not the average.

Let’s hope Obama’s rhetoric about giving unneeded and unwanted access to “high speed” rail to 80% of the country isn’t to be taken seriously either.

Obama’s $63-billion is just a drop in the bucket … when compared to the hundreds of billions — if not trillions — his ultimate plan would require (to “give access” to 80% of the country).

Except for our coastal areas, most of America lacks the population density that makes rail more feasible in places like Europe, Japan or China.

The $63 billion figure above includes $10 billion already allocated to this particular rat hole.

At least the unaffordable and infeasible medium speed rail will benefit the sacred man-eating polar bears. Or maybe not:

If you compare auto emissions on highways, they’re no worse than rail emissions. Rail has an advantage only if you compare long-distance train trips with car emissions from stop-and-go driving in the city. …

The lack of energy or pollution savings leaves us with the key problem: Huge expense with little benefit.

We are approaching an abyss. But the frenzied looting by Obama and friends will not stop until either they are removed from power or our once great nation collapses into insolvency.

On a tip from Varla. Cross-posted at Moonbattery.

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