Thursday, February 17, 2011

The fallacy of high speed rail: vroom vroom twains! for the mildly retarded

Yes!  Finally!  We're going to put some serious thought into high-speed rail!

I'm not.  It's a bad idea.  If it were a good idea, it would already be explored by the private sector. 

So let's do some light lifting, mentally speaking.

Airplanes are faster than trains.
There is already an extensive network of airfields and infrastructure to support them in every US city and most municipalities.  (Ever seen how much parking there is at your local AMTRAK yard?  Ever wanted to leave your car overnight there?)
TSA would also work the trains, so time saved avoiding that would be a wash.
Cars are still needed to get to the train station, and home again. 
Taking 1,000,000 cars off the road still leave 253,000,000 registered cars on the road.
Trains have to stop for things like heavy snow.  If we suddenly had this huge dependency on high-speed rail, what would happen during Snowmageddon II, Gore's revenge?

$22 Million-$1.2 Billion per mile projected for high-speed rail:  (remember, its 2462 miles from NY to LA, or minimum, $54,164,000,000 just to lay down one track across the country.)  And at that distance, even the world’s fastest MAGLEV train would take over 5 hours to get there.  Guess what?  That is NO faster than a flight between NY and LA.  Of course, trains have to do pesky things like share rails—do you think you could get ten trains an hour screaming into the LA train station, loading, unloading, “all aboarding!” in the same way they do at LAX?

For argument’s sake, let’s say we just take that $54 Billion and put it in simple passbook savings.  It isn’t like we NEED the money, right?  After one year, doing nothing but NOT SPENDING, we’ve made $759 Million Dollars.  Let’s bank that, too, and do likewise for ten years.  At the end of that decade, we now have $61,749,193,559.86— a profit of $7.7 Billion—for doing nothing.  That’s almost enough to pay for ObamaCare™ for a day!  Again, that’s the savings and profit from just not building ONE rail line—not the tens, or hundreds of thousands of miles of track we’d have to lay for a national grid.

Okay, so at this point, by taking the money we were going to spend on something stupid, like high-speed rail, and saving it, we can now spend it on something smart.  Like, I don’t know… nuclear power, fusion research, other “green” technology that actually works.  (By the way, how do you think those really fast electric trains get all their juice?  It ain’t solar panels and windmills, Sancho Panza.  They get their juice like everyone else—by burning evil fossil fuels.  Just like your Chevy reVolt.  Sure, it’s an electric car.  But not the electric that comes from rubbing free-range unicorn farts against skittles.  That juice has to be made somewhere, unless you’ve got one of Doc Brown’s Mr. Fusion reactors in your DeLorean.) 

I have a much better idea—something far cheaper that will allow us to drive as far and as often as we like, and paying far, far less than we do now for gas, and driving down transportation costs as well.  It’s a multi stage plan, so hold on.
1.     Defund AMTRAK now.  Take the $1 billion federal subsidy and use it to buy Chevy Volts for the 85 people who ride it currently.  Bank the rest (see above.)
2.    Better yet, use that $1B to build a new nuke plant.  Even Better, use the whole $54 Billion to build a new nuke plant in each of the 57 States.  (California would get the extra five, since they are so anti-nuke.)  The NRC and EPA have exactly one week to approve the build plan, as all of the plants will be the exact same.  If they don’t approve the plan, making any problems they have with the plans work, instead of just saying “No” building goes on as scheduled, and the EPA and NRC employees get to go work in the private sector.  Whoever is left at the EPA, please turn off the CFLs when you leave.
3.    Now that our energy needs have been met and exceeded by the construction of all these nuke plants, we can stop importing so much oil to run our oil-fired electric plants.  Lather, rinse, repeat until we can tell the House of Saud to kiss our asses.  You can now run every appliance in your house, charge up the car, use all the incandescent bulbs you want, and even leave the door open with the air on, and pay roughly $1.05 a month for electric.
4.    See what we did with the EPA in #2?  We do likewise with the EPA as it pertains to drilling new US wells and building new US refineries.  If we’ve oil in the ground, we dig it out, and boo frickin’ hoo if a buncha polar bears and caribou have nowhere to live.  Last time I checked, living in the most barren place on earth means your net impact on the global ecosystem is effectively zero.  (I’m also looking at you, Iran.) More modern refineries mean safer and more environmentally friendly production.
5.    Okay, remember that $54 billion we spent in #1?  Just kidding about that.  All we need to do is remove the restrictions to building the plants, and private sector corporations will build them.  Why?  Because they are a sound investment.  So we still have that $54 Billion in the bank. 

In four small steps, I’ve managed to find save or create $54 billion dollars, solve most of the energy crisis, increase private sector investing, reduce Middle Eastern relevance in the modern world, shitcan the bottomless pit that is AMTRAK, and drive down manufacturing and transportation costs, resulting in a stronger economy.

I’ll be ready to move in sometime in 2014.  You morons just be ready to toss the dummies out of their seats if they argue.


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