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June 16, 2005

If It's Not For Profit, It's Just Not

Don't you just love this Republican Congress? It's working diligently to destroy just about every public service it can, clearing the way for the health and welfare of private enterprise. For example, the federal government printed its last postage stamps last Friday. This will supposedly save the Postal Service lots of money; it went mostly private long ago, so it's all good.

But that's just stamps. What about public broadcasting? Some in Congress want to cut its already meager funding. Cool. Public broadcasting is just a bunch of liberal propaganda, anyway. If it's not fair and balanced like Fox News, we don't need it.

And cross-country train service? We don't need that, either. Obviously the airlines are healthy and a totally efficient way to travel. Greyhound is always fun, too.

Seriously, the postage and Amtrak cuts may make sense. If the privately-printed postage is going to be so much cheaper, um, ok. But what makes it cheaper? Is it the fact that the private printers pay their workers $6/hour and dump their printing chemicals into the local watershed while the gov't printers had to pay a living wage and dispose of their waste in a more responsible fashion? And Amtrak, well, it's been too expensive for most people to use for a long time—probably since the last huge cuts in federal funding. Personally I think we're going to wish we had a healthy, efficient, and robust national passenger rail system as fuel prices continue to rise, but hey, what do I know?

The public broadcasting thing is pretty indefensible, though. thinks so, too.

Posted June 16, 2005 07:19 AM | general politics

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I do really wish we had a better passenger rail system... I understand that it's a huge infrastructure investment, and that geographically it's not as easy to do as in say Europe or Japan, but I want bullet trains, damn it!

I've been on a Greyhound exactly once in my entire life--during college. Never again. Did I say never? I mean **NEVER**

After a six hour bus ride to travel 120 miles, sitting next to a guy who kept pouring whiskey into an empty coke can to get loaded, who also kept asking every woman who passed by after using the restroom "can I smell yer fingers" was enough to make me realize that the money I was "saving" was *so* not worth it.


Posted by: Dave! at June 16, 2005 11:12 AM

i LOVE greyhound. for basically the precise reasons as are stated above. i love amtrak, too, but you never get to have the same conversations as on greyhound. on my last trip, to indianapolis, the driver had to pull over at Hoosier Heartland truck stop to call the cops on a passenger. she was yelling at him because he didn't stop and give her a cigarette breack back in Columbus.

it's always an adventure, and you certainly can't say that about amtrak.

Posted by: monica at June 16, 2005 07:10 PM

I think you have to be in the right frame of mind for Greyhound. You can either participate in the Greyhound way, or view it as a sort of sociologically enlightening experience, or just take a train, plane, or automobile. I once took Greyhound from L.A. to the middle of Montana and my experience was really only bad during those times when I had to sit next to someone who was too large for his or her seat. The seats were also not that comfortable, and I remember being incredible tired of crap junkfood -- about the only thing available at the gas stations and bus stations the busses stopped at -- by the time the ~2-day ride was over. I do think the experience may have been enhanced by whiskey, but I didn't realize that in time to come prepared.

The *best* bus ride I ever had was on the Green Tortoise, which I rode several times up and down the coast of California. Everything about it was cool, including the price -- definitely the cheapest way I ever made that trip, and probably the most fun, too.

Monica: When will your domain be back? If you want to mirror your site on blawgcoop (or just move it altogether), just let me know and I'll set you up.

Posted by: ambimb at June 18, 2005 03:02 PM

I've travelled Amtrak a lot and I've always enjoyed it. Though it might take longer than some other ways to get around, I don't think I've ever met as wide a variety of people on any mode of transport (including Greyhound) as on the train.

One thing you should realize about Amtrak is that the auto and airline industries have done a lot to make the service inconvenient and expensive in order to prevent competition. Part of the effort has involved preventing Amtrak from owning little, if any, of the tracks it runs on. Most people don't realize that Amtrak has to lease passage on the lines that most of its trains run on from freight train companies. This account for a large part of operating expenses while ensuring that service will be slow at best as track maintenance on a freight line is nowhere near what it needs to be in order to operate a passenger train safely at high speed. A notable exception to this trend is the Northeast corridor line that runs from Boston to Washington. There Amtrak has been able to invest money to upgrade the track to enable high speed runs. The problem then becomes that, as one of Amtrak's few profitable lines, it winds up subsidizing a lot of the other operations.

Lucky you, ambimb. I've always wanted to ride the Green Tortoise. I hear some of their trips can get pretty wild.

Posted by: Famous P. at June 19, 2005 03:17 PM is where I go for trustworthy reporting on political and social issues all the time. I definitely trust their opinion that Public Broadcasting is worth saving. Well, in case you didn't realize it was all sarcastic right there. However, we should still fund, Bob Ross, Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street. The Teletubbies can go, I'm done with them and Jim Lehrerererer can go hold his breat under water for a long time.

Posted by: Reckless Murder at June 19, 2005 07:46 PM

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