Jonathan Cohn points out the curious opposition of Republicans to any improvement in our woefully inadequate rail system. As he suggests, this opposition goes beyond issues of cost; there’s something visceral about it.Notice that Krugman does not say "passenger rail," just "rail," although I guess he is talking about passenger rail travel.
Furthermore, Krugman tries to invoke a questionable economic argument regarding "natural monopoly," as seen here:
It’s not too hard to understand, of course: in real life, as opposed to bad novels, railroads aren’t run by rugged individualists (nor should they be). In fact, passenger rail is generally run by government; even when it’s partially privatized, as in Britain, it’s done so with heavy state intervention to preserve some semblance of competition in a natural monopoly. So rail doesn’t fit the conservative vision of the way things should be.Hmmm. We have a government monopoly preserving "some semblance of competition in a natural monopoly"? Uh, that does not compute, people. Furthermore, passenger rail was very, very competitive in this country until the automobile became more developed (and was subsidized by the Interstate Highway System) and also after a century of government regulation of railroads.
Furthermore, government subsidies of passenger rail don't exist to "preserve competition," but rather exist to preserve the various rail unions which have helped make the real costs of passenger rail frightfully high. All that is lost to Krugman, of course, who spins his own fantasies.
But, in the end, it really is about people ponying up so Paul can ride the rails for less than the full cost. He writes:
I almost always take trains both to New York and to Washington, and consider the time spent on those trains part of my productive hours — with notebooks and 3G, an Amtrak quiet car is basically a moving office. And I don’t think I’m alone in that.Gee, I'm surprised Amtrak does not provide him with a heavily-subsidized private car.
As for "high-speed rail," we are speaking of billions and billions of dollars to be spent for which there really won't be any return. To those who don't subscribe to Keynesian "economics," that means that high-speed rail will use far more in resources than it will produce, which means a deficit of wealth. (Yes, Keynesians will claim it would "stimulate" the entire economy because the government is spending lots of money.)
So, any of you who might take economics seriously, don't ride on the same train with Krugman, as he might declare you an "enemy of the people" have have the conductor throw you off to the side!