George Will, writing in Newsweek, advances an intriguing theory as to why high-speed rail networks are so popular with the Obama administration.
... why is America’s 'win the future' administration so fixated on railroads, a technology that was the future two centuries ago? Because progressivism’s aim is the modification of (other people’s) behavior.
Forever seeking Archimedean levers for prying the world in directions they prefer, progressives say they embrace high-speed rail for many reasons - to improve the climate, increase competitiveness, enhance national security, reduce congestion, and rationalize land use. The length of the list of reasons, and the flimsiness of each, points to this conclusion: the real reason for progressives’ passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.
To progressives, the best thing about railroads is that people riding them are not in automobiles, which are subversive of the deference on which progressivism depends. Automobiles go hither and yon, wherever and whenever the driver desires, without timetables. Automobiles encourage people to think they - unsupervised, untutored, and unscripted - are masters of their fates. The automobile encourages people in delusions of adequacy, which make them resistant to government by experts who know what choices people should make.
Time was, the progressive cry was "Workers of the world unite!" or "Power to the people!" Now it is less resonant: "All aboard!"
There's more at the link.
I tend to agree with Mr. Will on this; also with John Mica, Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of the House of Representatives, who famously said of President Obama's high-speed rail initiative: "This is like giving Bernie Madoff another chance at handling your investment portfolio."
However, vested interests and entrenched 'establishment' politicians are fighting to keep the program alive. I can only assume that's because they see a way to get power, patronage or
I guess, even more than collectivism, the real reason for this push for high-speed rail is money, plain and simple. It greases politicians' palms, and lets them advertise to their constituents that they've 'brought home the bacon' according to the ancient and time-honored practices of pork barrel politics. The fact that our children, and our children's children, will be saddled with paying for this technological white elephant, doesn't concern them at all. After all, they won't be in office when our children reach voting age - they'll have retired, rich, fat and happy.