What do conservatives have against rail travel, asks Dave Weigel at Slate. Republican governors like John Kasich (Ohio), Scott Walker (Wisconsin) and Rick Scott (Florida) have all rejected stimulus funding for high-speed rail projects since being elected last year. The Republican Study Committee now wants the government to yank funding from Amtrak, and the president's $53 billion proposal to boost high-speed rail has been met with a chorus of boos from the opposition. Why exactly does the right wing hate trains?
The Right considers trains a poor investment: Conservatives don't like trains for economic reasons, says Megan McArdle at The Atlantic. Put simply, rail is never going to work at "anything close to a decent cost-benefit ratio in most of America." Not enough people will ride them to make the numbers work. Rail advocates say that if you build it, passengers will come. But conservatives rightly think that spending "tens of billions of dollars" on a risky proposition is a bad bet.
"Why do conservatives hate trains"
The Right thinks trains will turn us into socialists: Yes, rail projects can be dismissed as risky investments, says Weigel at Slate. But there's also a more complex, "cultural" reason why conservatives dislike them. They believe the primary reason liberals want to fund train travel is to "change [Americans'] behavior," towards a collectivist, European-style society where we all ride trains together.
"Why do conservatives hate trains so much?"
The real question is, why do liberals love rail? I find it hard to understand why liberals are so wedded to "a technology that was the future two centuries ago," says George Will at Newsweek. Perhaps it's because trains diminish Americans' individualism. Rail, with its timetables and fixed routes, requires pasengers to show "the deference on which progressivism depends." Meanwhile, the automobile allows them to roam free, "unsupervised, untutored and unscripted." Isn't that the American way?
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