Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why Barack Obama needs to build trains

Yesterday we got introduced to Barack Obama's economic team during a noon press conference. An hour later, I was on National Public Radio talking with a woman who exemplifies why some kind of economic rescue is necessary. Julia Cox lost her job in the mortgage industry almost a year ago and can't find new work. With a daughter in college, she's losing her home and contemplating filing bankruptcy.

Obama's got another press conference today in which he's expected to discuss potential budget cuts for next year, so maybe we'll finally get a look at how we're really paying for all these bailouts. Meanwhile, here's an expensive idea that would be worth the cost in helping boost the economy: trains.

I've been wanting to write about this for a while but Stanley Crouch of the New York Daily News beat me to it. He wrote a column explaining how building a national high-speed rail system is exactly the kind of project that could have a real, decades-long, transformative impact on the American economy.

"Rebuilding and expanding our train system would bring about extremely fruitful construction projects. The new routes would add various levels of service to meet what could become a revolutionary number of customers who could not only count on speed, but also rely on the scenic experience that is much more likely when one is not driving. It would also get us away from the gasoline pump that has upended the American economy for the worst."
I couldn't agree more, but of course a new railroad system would take years to build. People like Julia Cox need help now. If you were on Obama's economic team, what ideas would you bring to the table to jump-start the economy immediately, what long-term projects would you push for and where, oh where, would you find the money?


Sherman said...


If I were part of the economic team, I would take a close look at the federal money being waisted on get-rich-quick schemes that often disguise themselves as non-profit organizations.

Working in a philanthropic environment, I have seen countless organizations who take advantage of their non-profit status. While there are certain tax advantages to operating an entity with this particular designation, it by no means justifies the amount of federal money being waisted on individuals who continue to take advantage of the law, the public, and the truly deserving.

LoraSara said...

A high speed national railroad is needed. It seems to me that someone like Julia Cox would know quite well how to handle the land use issues that would be involved in creating a new railway. I admire her courage in sharing her story and I hope she finds work soon.