Government is Lousy at Passenger Rail Projects

Peter Churchman Libertarian Nominee for the 17th District


It is past time for the government to get out of the passenger rail industry.  Rail projects are not authorized within the enumerated powers of the Constitution.  If this wasn’t reason enough, the government does an inherently poor job running a railroad.  Government run programs like Amtrak have a poor safety record and consistently lose money. Additionally, government inefficiency leads directly to inefficiently run businesses.  If a need for passenger rail projects exists, those projects should be left wholly to private industry, where the most good will be achieved – and will not snatch the taxpayers’ hard-earned cash.


Amtrak experienced the strongest ridership ever in its most recent fiscal year, yet as a business they still lost money.  One reason for this is Amtrak cannot operate as a fully independent business because it is controlled by the government. A private business could adapt to its environment and maximize profits by making different choices, such as focusing on profitable areas and changing how they did business in unprofitable ones.  Plus, it could generate money for maintenance and safety improvements without taking money from the American taxpayer. When passenger railways are run through a government program instead of a private business, decisions are made by politicians and bureaucrats who have no incentive to make it run efficiently. Lifelong politicians only vote for programs like passenger rail in hopes of gaining a few extra votes in the next election and leveraging a few more campaign donations from special interest groups.


Our government takes our tax dollars and grants them to rail projects around the country.  Most often, these rail projects are located in large urban areas with huge local tax revenue.  Why should the people in rural America see their wealth transferred to the large metropolitan cities?   


In Central Texas, a high speed rail (HSR) project has been proposed from Dallas to Houston, but the HSR will have to use the might of the federal government and the dollars of the American taxpayer to build it.  The company developing this HSR wants the federal government to grant them use of eminent domain and government loans to build the project. In other words, they not only want your tax dollars our government has taken with force, but they also want to steal your land.  How many times must the citizens of this country inform our federal government that theft is wrong and it violates our natural rights given to us by our Creator? This project would only benefit the large metropolitan areas of Dallas and Houston, leaving every county, town, and landowner between suffering.


The federal government should look to the past and recognize its strengths do not include the management of rail projects.  Rail is something that should be built and operated by railroads, not the government. The free market will provide us safe trains when and where they are needed.  The federal government has only one very simple obligation – to stay out of the railroad business.


Peter Churchman can be reached for comment at:






Categories: Politics

1 reply »

  1. There was a time when Americans believed in freedom.

    The US is dying from a million cuts. Part of the reason the USA is a nanny police state now is that whenever there is a problem, the kneejerk reaction in the US is to call for a new law.

    Nanny state laws are not the best solution, however. Nanny state laws lead to more laws, higher fines, and tougher sentences. Thirty-five years ago, DWI laws were enacted that led to DWI checkpoints and lower DWI levels. Seatbelt laws led to backseat seatbelt laws, childseat laws, and pet seatbelt laws. Car liability insurance laws led to health insurance laws and gun liability laws. Smoking laws that banned smoking in buildings led to laws against smoking in parks and then bans against smoking in entire cities. Sex offender registration laws led to sex offender restriction laws and violent offender registration laws.

    Nanny state laws don’t make us safer, either. Nanny state laws lead people to be careless since they don’t need to have personal responsibility anymore. People don’t need to be careful crossing the street now because drunk-driving has been outlawed and driving while using a mobile phone is illegal. People don’t investigate companies or carry out due diligence because businesses must have business licenses now.

    The main point of nanny state laws is not safety. The main purposes of more laws are control and revenue generation for the state.

    Another reason laws are enacted is because corporations give donations to lawmakers to stifle competition or increase sales.

    Many laws are contradictory, too. Some laws say watering lawns is required, while other laws say watering lawns is illegal.

    Many nanny state laws that aim to solve a problem can be fixed by using existing laws. If assault is already illegal, why do we need a new law that outlaws hitting umpires?

    Do laws even work? Heroin is illegal, but do people still use heroin?

    Nanny state laws are not even necessary. If everything was legal would you steal, murder, and use crack cocaine? Aren’t there other ways to solve problems besides calling the police? Couldn’t people educate or talk to people who bother them? Couldn’t people be sued for annoying behavior? Couldn’t people just move away? Even if assault was legal, wouldn’t attackers risk being killed or injured, too? Do people have consciences? Having no laws doesn’t mean actions have no consequences.

    If there is no victim, there is no crime.

    We don’t need thousands of laws when we only need 10.

    Should swimming pools be banned because they are dangerous? Hammers? Bottles? Rocks? Energy drinks? Pillows?

    Where does it end?

    If one state can have self-serve gas stations, why can’t every state have them? If sodas were legal 20 years ago, why can’t they be legal now?

    Freedom is not just a one way street. You can only have freedom for yourself if you allow others to have it.

    Control freaks might get angry when a neighbor owns three indoor cats, but what did the neighbor take from them? Why should this be illegal? Is outlawing cats something a free country should do? Doesn’t banning everything sound like the opposite of liberty?

    Instead of getting mad at people who like freedom, why don’t people realize that freedom is a two way street?

    If you allow others to paint their house purple then you can, too.

    If you allow others to own a gun then you can, too.

    If you allow others to swear then you can, too.

    If you allow others to gamble then you can, too.

    Good men don’t need laws. Bad men won’t obey laws.

    Who wants to live in a prison?

    Think. Question everything.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s