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« Blogging Note | Main | What's Up With the Left? »

June 09, 2009

Political Linkage

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Does it now make more sense to rent rather than buy?

* Her car needs work, so Awake in Rochester has been taking the bus lately. She isn't very happy about it.

* Why has train travel in the U.S. gotten slower?

* Ramesh gives the local-currency thing some thought.

* This colorful guy thinks it's only getting worse. (Link thanks to Charlton Griffin)

* There's a lot to chew on in this brief Lew Rockwell posting about the Fed.

* A great line from Jack Hunter: "American secession is no more crazy than American socialism."

* Dennis Mangan takes stock of how our shadow government -- namely Goldman Sachs -- is faring under Obama.

* MBlowhard Rewind: Should Turkey be welcomed into the European Union? I bounced off that question to wonder about a Gaspar Noe film and a Bertrand Blier film.



posted by Michael at June 9, 2009


Secession? Phooey! Just grasp the nettle and expel California. And Michigan.

Posted by: dearieme on June 9, 2009 4:39 PM

dearieme, as a native Californian, I accept your proposal.

Posted by: JV on June 9, 2009 5:42 PM

Interesting story about the trains. Nobody seems to have noticed that the airlines however are on track to lose something like $9 billion (worldwide) this year. It seems that nobody can make any money taking people from one place to another, even with government subsidies.

Instead of fighting this silly battle every year over Amtrak and its $1.5 billion dollar subsidy (keeping in mind that Obama's budget projects a deficit 1000x that number), maybe the question we need to ask ourselves is if the business of helping people get from one place to another is a proper function of the government at all. If flying airplanes full of people cannot stand on its own as a money-making business model, then maybe it's time to re-think things.

Mind you, I like trains, a lot. The problem with Amtrak is not so much one of slow schedules, poor ridership figures, and whatnot. Amtrak was created by Congress and the Nixon administration to actually kill off the passenger train in a politically palatable fashion, a kind of "farewell tour," if you will. It did not work out that way though, thanks to the Arab-Israeli war and the first oil shock though, leaving Amtrak with aging equipment, legacy costs, and increasing ridership.

I think Amtrak could actually survive with lesser federal subsidies if they would take a few simple steps:

1. Get rid of the unions and the attendant legacy costs.

2. Transfer ownership of the company to its employees, so that they have a direct stake in whether it succeeds or not.

3. Hire an imaginative travel entrepreneur such as Richard Branson as a consultant to bring fresh thinking to the operation.

4. Recognize that each route is going to be different and that you can't take a "cookie cutter" approach. The NE corridor is a high density commuter operation where Amtrak basically competes with other forms of point-to-point transportation. By the same token, the long distance routes are leisure travel oriented, and as such should be run more like "land cruises" rather than attempting to replicate the Southwest Airlines or Greyhound experience on rails.

My wife and I took the Coast Starlight from LA to Portland last summer. There were 500 people on that train, and that was on a weekday. So people are interested in riding the train - they've just got to be given a reason to.

Posted by: Sgt. Joe Friday on June 9, 2009 11:32 PM

RE: Noe film

In your reductionist universe, what exactly do we have have to stop? Homosexuals? Immigration (a big stretch since there are none in the film)? How - pray- do you expect to deal with this stuff? And how exactly did you get the impression that France is busily fondling itself? Evidence please. Further, do you really think weekend parties are a mark of civilization's decline? Poppycock! Such Puritanical nonsense.

Posted by: raybutlers on June 10, 2009 8:47 AM

Crazy socialism alert! Sarah Palin on Fox describing what she accomplished in Alaska (via Sullivan):

Palin: We are the only state with a negative tax rate, where we don’t have any income, sales or property tax statewide, and yes we have a share of our oil resource revenue that goes back to the people that own the resources. Imagine that.

Hannity: And it went up higher since you’ve been the governor and you negotiated with the oil companies. That all went up so people get a bigger check.

Palin: There was a corrupt tax system up there and we had a couple of lawmakers end up in jail because of the tax system that was adopted so we cleaned it up and said we wanted a fair and equitable share of the resources that we own, and the people will share in those resource revenues that are derived.

Later of course we get:

Palin: If Americans aren’t paying attention, unfortunately our country could evolve into something that we do not even recognize. Certainly that is so far from what the founders of our country had in mind for us.

Hannity: Socialism?

Palin: Well….that is where we are headed.

Posted by: Steve W on June 10, 2009 9:08 AM

Rayb -- That's the first time ever I've been accused to puritanism! I'll have to let my friends in the NYC erotica scene know about that.

BTW, if you don't think that "Irreversible" presents a picture of a decaying Europe losing its spine and identity to self-pleasure, fine. But why not try offering an alternative interpretation? You did notice that the film begins/ends in darkness and violence at Le Rectum? And ends/begins with a colorful, peaceful shot full of nature and light of Monica Bellucci pregnant, right? Curious to hear how you account for that arc.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on June 10, 2009 10:07 AM

But why not try offering an alternative interpretation?

Ray doesn't offer alternative explanations, or anything at all. He just comes in here, spews invective at people, including you, and sits back on his duff, expecting people to take the bait.

The guy's a troll, Michael. Scan his comments back to the beginning, if you can stand it. You'll see the pattern. The guy just doesn't give anything at all. He's useless.

It's your blog! But I must confess I am at a loss as to why you haven't already banned the uselessness that is Ray Butlers.

Posted by: PatrickH on June 10, 2009 10:32 AM

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