20 thoughts on “Welcome To Michigan

  1. Carl Pham

    Hmm…its government infected with an inbred aristocracy of soi-disant wise men who feel they should plan the lives of the yokels in the hinterland, backed by a smug non-reproducing urban international-looking urban moneyed class, freely spending the accumulated savings of other people on perverse monetary policies and gargantuan Great Pyramid show-projects that will, via the Underpants Gnome Theory of Economic Productivity, somehow or other lead to everyone being rich some sweet day?

    I dunno, China seems a fair bit like the United States these days. What’s Chinese for “Tea Party?”

  2. Sigivald

    Just as important, we shouldn’t, as that Reason article almost does, confuse Chinese plans for HSR systems with an actual rail line.

    Talk is cheap. (Remember Chinese announcements that they were gonna set up a moon base?)

    Doing it and making it work is hard and expensive – especially if you’re not the Chinese Government and can’t just take all the right-of-way you want by fiat.

  3. Brock

    Sigivald said:

    Just as important, we shouldn’t, as that Reason article almost does, confuse Chinese plans for HSR systems with an actual rail line.

    Sigivald,

    You can buy HSR tickets in China, today. They’re not “plans.” The Shanghai-Nanjing and Shanghai-Hangzhou lines began operation in 2010, and the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway is expected to be operational later this year. Construction is well under way.

    China already has 7400+ kilometers of high speed rail; that’s more high speed rail than all of Europe. More than half of that was built in just the last year. They’re building it that quickly. An additional 3,000 km are already under construction.

    And if they continue at that rate (which they plan to; and given their established success I have no doubt they will succeed) they will have 13,000 km as soon as 2012; more than the rest of the world combined.

    The above is not an endorsement of China’s plans. Maybe they’re a boondoggle. Maybe they’re typical cental-planning malinvestment. But you should delude yourself about what they have or have not accomplished.

  4. Pete

    The USA really does not have the population density, geography or economics to justify much in the way of high speed trains – where it does I would hope private business would make it happen. The high speed train initiative in the US strikes me as near pure pork – air travel won. Also, high speed trains are particularly prone to terrorism (the first IED…). When that eventually happens I suspect the world’s opinion of high speed trains might suddenly change overnight, and all that infrastructural investment will be wasted.

    My father was recently in a city in China of 8 million people. It was not even big enough to have its own international airport (New Zealand has 4 million people and 6 international airports…). China is definitely not the US.

  5. Carl Pham

    Prolly HSR is a better investment for the Chinese government than US Treasuries, Brock.

    What I want is high-speed highways and cars. Why the heck am I going from here to Utah at a piddling 80 MPH? It can’t be that hard to fiddle with the car and the road to let me do it at 160 MPH, which would be well worth the bump up in fuel costs.

    Or let’s get cracking on individualized air travel. For my next God-damned three-day trip to the East Coast, why can’t I zip down to the local airport, rent a small extremely safe idiot-proof jet, and blast across the country at 550 MPH with just me and the 1 or 2 others who need to go? I appreciate that flying is more complex than driving, but we’ve got decades of experience and loads of computing power to throw at that problem. And anyone with a brain can see that in the United States centralized arterial travel is dreadfully inefficient, not to mention a ripe ripe target for nogoodniks. If we don’t want to crowd like cattle onto trains, why moo onto planes? Decentralize!

    Sometimes it feels like we’ve just lost our nerve and panache, turned inward and afraid like the late Romans gazing fearfully over Hadrian’s Wall at the wily barbarian Scots. We’ve become a NASA of a nation, ponderously plodding forward on various Heavy Lift bazillion dollar schemes, dreaming of a freer yesterday.

  6. Josh Reiter

    Well in this age of postmodernism why don’t we just start referring to airplanes as trains and get to the part where we celebrate the wondrous age of high speed rail that has suddenly arrived. Then, we can thumb our noses at the world because not only do our trains travel at high speed but they fly; HUZZAH!

  7. Brock

    “Prolly HSR is a better investment for the Chinese government than US Treasuries, Brock.”

    Ha! No doubt.

    I actually think that HSR is a great investment for China. The HSR’s don’t go everywhere, they just link up the densest urban cores, and a slower network of highways and passenger trains connect those hubs to the “little” cities of 1 million or less.

    A good example is Amtrak (really!). They are profitable in a single train line – the DC-New York-Boston corridor. That’s where American cities are the most densely populated and have the least sprawl, so trains make sense.

    Well, most of China is like our Northeast corridor. The HSR lines link up Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai, which are all larger than DC, Boston and New York and a similar distance apart. And then one line connects those three to Hong Kong/Guanzhou, which is not unlike a direct line to Chicago or Texas.

    (Only the Hong Kong/Guangzho Provinces have a combined population of 60+ million, making them bigger than even Tokyo. Frankly the mind boggles at the scale of it).

    The plan is to have a train leave Guanzhou for the northern cities every 5 to 10 minutes during the busiest travel seasons. That would put Southwest Airlines out of business and for a fraction of the energy cost to the Chinese economy.

    I could be wrong but I think this will really work out for them.

  8. Karl Hallowell

    Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying – without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.

    What nonsense. The high-speed rail still doesn’t get the traveler to the door. And as Pete noted, a few terrorist attacks on high speed rails and we’ll see those security lines for trains as well.

  9. Alex

    I was under the impression that we don’t need HSR, or any rail for that matter, because we’re all rich enough to own CARS.

    Urban Democrats, train buffs and city planner types always forget this.

    In my dream world, Obama gets up there and says his goal is to make all Americans rich enough so they can afford new, 2011 Ford Explorers.

    (Sorry, I just got done reading a review for one and it was on my mind).

  10. Alex

    Provided they’ve got the FWD torque steer under control, I’ll gladly take a high speed Explorer.

    Speaking of lagging behind the world, though, I see that the Explorer will be offered with a manual transmission in the UK (where was this part in Obama’s speech!). I’d kill for that version over here. Minus the right-hand drive, of course.

  11. Carl Pham

    Driving an automatic is like asking your woman to undress herself. Understandable in certain circumstances, e.g. your wrist is in a cast.

  12. Don

    Alex, actually the railroad industry isn’t that interested in abolishing, or even cutting back on cars, although they do want the HSR. What really gets them all hot under the collar is the trucking industry. If the rail types had their way, the trucking industry would merely take the goods from the rail heads to the stores. Naturally, there would be massive subsidies for this…

  13. ken anthony

    Why aren’t politicians laughed off the podium when they use terms like ‘invest’ or ‘compete’ with reference to government?

    A public lacking vital education.

    Where is this education supposed to come from?

    The media.

    What are we doing about it?

    Almost nothing.

    Can you undress a woman while driving a stick on a mountain road?

    But of course! This is the correct answer to any question that begins… Can you undress a woman… (if she is willing.)

    Did you see Christina Hendricks in Firefly? I didn’t recognize her for all my drooling. We men are such simple creatures.

    My fantasies regarding Andrea (all guys do) include a hello kitty AR15.

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