Over at Slate, David Weigel wants to know what Conservatives have against trains:
In the movie version of Atlas Shrugged, there is a scene in which Ayn Rand’s libertarian heroes defy all odds, deploy some untold amount of private funding, and launch the fastest high-speed train in history over rails of experimental metal. “The run of the John Galt Line is thrilling,” wrote the libertarian federal judge Alex Kozinski. “When it crossed the bridge made of Rearden Metal, I wanted to stand up and cheer.”
That’s in the fantasy world. In the real world, libertarians aren’t cheering for high speed rail but rather trying to stop it from being built. They are succeeding. In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich campaigned against a high-speed rail line funded by the stimulus, got elected, and turned down the funding. In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker did the same thing, only more so—his anti-train campaign even had its own Web site. In Florida, the state Supreme Court has just approved Gov. Rick Scott’s decision to reject $2.4 billion of federal funds to build a Tampa-Orlando rail line; the state was being asked to contribute only $280 million to finish it off. The funding was originally agreed to by Charlie Crist, one of the Tea Party’s archenemies, so Scott’s victory could hardly be any sweeter.
But it could hardly make less sense to liberals. What, exactly, do Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians have against trains? Seriously, what?
The answer is simple. Unlike in Rand’s wackadoodle fantasy, in the real world, trains are the ultimate symbol of collectivist action. They require vast cooperation to build, as they run across state lines and in crowded locals like Europe, across country boarders. They’re cheep and egalitarian — a first class passenger on a train who shelled out the extra cash for a private sleeper car still has to rub elbows with the proles in order to use the rest room.
Conservatives may gripe about the cost but seriously, you know when a conservative is bullshitting? They start talking about the cost of things. They only care about what some service or enterprise costs when it might enable poor people to gain some upward mobility. That’s why they hate universal healthcare and it’s why they hate trains: it benefits poor people and the middle class. If people started taking trains instead of driving cars and flying, we wouldn’t need as much gas. And as we a ll know, guzzling gas is our patriotic duty. Trains are insufficiently capitlaistic. They remind us that we’re social creatures and are common in places where “Socialism” runs rampant: Europe and Asia. It’s anti-American to conserve resources and work together. We should all drive alone in our cars as individualistic individuals, racing and competing against one another to get nowhere, fast.
Link via Abbas Raza.