Monday, June 08, 2009

Government Motors: Quotes of the Day

The government that runs Amtrak (which has lost $23 billion, in today's dollars, just since 1990) vows to make GM efficient. But one reason Amtrak runs on red ink is that legislators treat it as their toy train set, preventing it from cutting egregiously unprofitable routes.

~
George Will


The Edsel was one of the biggest flops in the history of car making. Introduced with great fanfare by Ford in 1958, it had terrible sales and was junked after only three years. But if Congress had been running Ford, the Edsel would still be on the market.

~
Steve Chapman


21 Comments:

At 6/08/2009 9:23 AM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Actually, if Amtrak lost only $23 bil since 1990, that is less than GM did under private management, in one year. While conferring some external benefits.

 
At 6/08/2009 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

GM lost shareholders money, Amtrak lost the publics money. The difference to me is significant since I did not own any GM stock. I'd prefer you paid for your own "external benefits".

 
At 6/08/2009 10:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'd prefer you paid for your own "external benefits"."

Amen Brother.

 
At 6/08/2009 10:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely right, Comrade.

 
At 6/08/2009 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK:

Show me one rail company that makes a profits (by the way both SNCF and JR "make money" the old fashion way -- by hiding their losses).

Probably not an apt comparison with GM.

 
At 6/08/2009 10:50 AM, Blogger Richard Rider, Chair, San Diego Tax Fighters said...

Of course, it makes little sense to compare the DOLLARS lost by GM and Amtrak -- as GM is (was) a FAR bigger enterprise serving and employing far more people. It also MADE money (funny bookkeeping notwithstanding) for many years -- Amtrak loses money EVERY year.

Another point. GM's failure is stereotyped as a free market failure. But GM did not operate in a free labor market. Far from it.

In the 40's and 50's, government tied the hands of GM's management in their dealings with labor, so compensation and operations reform never came before the collapse.

 
At 6/08/2009 10:59 AM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

I appreciate most of George Will's writings but I disagree with him for two reasons about this article.

1. George Will's wife has been a highly paid "public relations" specialist in Washington D.C. for:
The Japan Auto Manufacturer's Export Association. He should recuse himself on this subject.

2. Does anyone remember seeing any passenger planes in the air after 9-11-2001 over the U.S.?
Amtrak fulfills a basic transportation need with less subsidy then the Phoenix or Seattle light rail booddoggles.

 
At 6/08/2009 11:06 AM, Anonymous Benjamin said...

Did you know that roads are subsidized in America? Gasoline taxes usually pay less than 18 cents on the dollar. The rest comes from taxpayers.
Rural America in particualr, is heavily subsidized. Basically, there would be no paved roads or utility electricty in rural America w/o subsidies. W/o subsidies, rural development would have stayed along the rail lines, like the old days.
Hey, when roads are paid for by user, I bet Amtrak and other public transit will be full to the brim.
External benefits are less imported oil and pollution.

 
At 6/08/2009 11:23 AM, Anonymous Benjamin said...

From the Texas Highway Department:

"For example, in Houston, the 15 miles of SH 99 from I-10 to US 290 will cost $1 billion to build and maintain over its lifetime, while only generating $162 million in gas taxes. That gives a tax gap ratio of .16, which means that the real gas tax rate people would need to pay on this segment of road to completely pay for it would be $2.22 per gallon. This is just one example, but there is not one road in Texas that pays for itself based on the tax system of today. Some roads pay for about half their true cost, but most roads we have analyzed pay for considerably less."

 
At 6/08/2009 11:42 AM, Blogger 1 said...

"Did you know that roads are subsidized in America? Gasoline taxes usually pay less than 18 cents on the dollar. The rest comes from taxpayers."...

Well we can thank the politicos that WE elected to state and national office for that situation...

Consider the following from the Tax Foundation: Paying at the Pump: Gasoline Taxes in America...

Early gasoline taxes in the states were explicitly created in an attempt to charge road users for the privilege of using roads. However, from the very inception of gasoline taxation, public officials have faced temptation to divert gasoline tax revenue to projects that are only tangentially related to transportation and that are often purely politically motivated. When lawmakers do overcome the temptations to squander gasoline tax funds, and instead use the revenue strictly for road construction and maintenance, gasoline taxes can serve as a reasonable tax.

Gasoline taxes have been in operation for well over 80 years in the United States. Unfortunately, the years of political pressure have eroded the original intent of gas taxes. In all too many instances, benefit-principle taxation has taken a backseat to political pandering. For instance, current federal highway legislation authorized over 6,000 earmarks from the highway trust fund. Some of these went to legitimate transportation programs, but others were earmarked for items such as the infamous "bridge to nowhere." Today, gasoline tax revenue is spent on everything from public education and museums to graffiti removal and parking garages
...

 
At 6/08/2009 12:14 PM, Anonymous Benjamin said...

Hey, let's kill subsidies. All subsidies. That means wiping out the Dept. of Agriculture. Crushing HUD. Privatizing the military. Eliminating the mortgage interest deduction. Raising gasoline taxes to $2.50 a gallon (to pay for roads).
It will also mean that rural America will radically depopulate.
Bring it on. I own urban land--my land value would skyrocket.

 
At 6/08/2009 4:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the end game?

Nixon said that Amtrak would be transferred back to the private sector in only a few years and generate a profit. NOT!

Is this constitutional?

When does the madness stop?

 
At 6/08/2009 5:34 PM, Anonymous Benjamin said...

The madness stops when the R-Party kills the Dep't of Agriculture.
You have a long, long wait, buddy.

 
At 6/08/2009 7:28 PM, Blogger 1 said...

benjamin showing a distinct lack of familiarity of the Constitution says: "Hey, let's kill subsidies. All subsidies. That means wiping out the Dept. of Agriculture. Crushing HUD. Privatizing the military"...

Well you're partially right, there nothing in the Constitution that says anything about pandering to the parasites but it does have something to say about armed forces... (hint Art. 1 Section 8)

"Raising gasoline taxes to $2.50 a gallon (to pay for roads)."...

The roads have already been paid for and then some...

"It will also mean that rural America will radically depopulate.
Bring it on. I own urban land--my land value would skyrocket
"...

So you do understand something about free market sources after all...

"The madness stops when the R-Party kills the Dep't of Agriculture.
You have a long, long wait, buddy
"...

You don't have to worry about the R.I.N.O.s Benjamin, there's a train load of earmarks in that Constitutionally questionable department of crop corruption...

 
At 6/08/2009 7:52 PM, Anonymous Benjamin said...

No. 1.
Hey, who is kidding who?
Bush already has privatized much of the military, and Obama is increasing the use of private contractors. Afghanie has more private-sector people than soldiers.
Does the Constitution outlaw hiring of mercenaries?
We spend nearly $700 billion a year on the military, but we cannot filed a fighting force of more than 200,000 men?
The free market dictates we use mercenaries. Cheaper and better.
On roads, you are citing legend. We subsidize roads. Check UC Davis studies on this matter.
The USA pours money into rural areas. They would go into the crapper fast with federal subsidies, and probably state subs. Electricity, roads, phone service--all subsidized.
Good-bye rural America w/o subsidies.
I say go for it.
Most conservatives are lily-livered weenies, and when faced with a true conervative, they wilt. They love subsidies, they love fat, they don;t want to pay taxes to pay down the debt, and God Forbid we have a draft again. They might have to serve!

 
At 6/08/2009 8:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is why public funded mass transit, like Amtrak, is such a joke.

 
At 6/08/2009 11:26 PM, Blogger 1 said...

Geez! What planet are you from Benjamin?

"Hey, who is kidding who?
Bush already has privatized much of the military, and Obama is increasing the use of private contractors
"...

What are you talking about?

HALLIBURTON — THE CLINTON CONTRACTOR

Considering the costs of training and fielding a soldier do you want them peeling potatoes and washing dishes?

 
At 6/09/2009 8:48 AM, Blogger NoWhining said...

"Does the Constitution outlaw hiring of mercenaries?"
Nope...think letters of Marque and Reprisal.

 
At 6/09/2009 10:47 AM, Blogger 1 said...

Benjamin says: "Most conservatives are lily-livered weenies, and when faced with a true conervative, they wilt"...

Hmmm, coming from someone who appears to be an avowed socialist this is rather funny...

Thanks for playing...

 
At 6/09/2009 1:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God Forbid we have a draft again. They might have to serve!

Watch and learn, most active duty military indentify as conservative, Republican or libertarian. I guess that "don't ask, don't tell" weeds out all the Deomcrats.

That's probably why the Democrat party is always trying to disenfranchise military voters.

 
At 6/10/2009 8:24 AM, Blogger NoWhining said...

"God Forbid we have a draft again. They might have to serve!"

I'm a conservative and a libertarian and I volunteered...served in Bosnia and am a veteran of Iraq.

I think if there's a draft, there won't be any shortage of conservatives holding up the right hand. It will be the liberal pussies who will run to Canada as they did during the last draft. Liberals will only stand up and fight for what they believe in a.)When they are together in large numbers and there is no threat of retaliation b.)when it comes at no personal cost to themselves.

 

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