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Amtrak crash shows the high cost of ignoring infrastructure

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Amtrak crash shows the high cost of ignoring infrastructure

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — America is crumbling before our eyes. Once, the U.S. was the envy of the world with its modern roads, airports, railroad bridges and other infrastructure.

Everything was first-class.

Now, it’s third-rate.

An Amtrak passenger train derailed Tuesday in Philadelphia, killing at least seven passengers.

The investigation into the crash is only beginning, and it’s too early to say what caused it. But it’s not too early to say that Amtrak’s crumbling infrastructure didn’t help matters.

“It’s an extremely heavily used stretch of track,” transportation analyst Matthew L. Wald told CNN, referring to the area where the train derailed Tuesday night. “They have trouble keeping it in a state of good repair.”

Amtrak has long been a national embarrassment. The passenger-rail system has long been used as a political punching bag, as Simon Van Zuylen-Wood detailed in a must-read article in the National Journal last month titled “Why can’t America have great trains?”

It’s not just trains. We can’t have great highways, or great bridges, or great airports, or a great broadband-communications network because we refuse to pay for them.

“Last month, the House of Representatives agreed to fund Amtrak for the next four years at a rate of $1.4 billion per year,” Van Zuylen-Wood wrote. “Meanwhile, the Chinese government — fair comparison or not — will be spending $128 billion this year on rail.”

Did I say $1.4 billion? Make that $1.1 billion. Coincidentally, the House Appropriations Committee is meeting Wednesday to vote on a transportation bill that would cut Amtrak funding from current levels.

The Chinese know something we’ve forgotten: You have to spend money to make money. You need to invest in the transportation, communications and energy systems that make modern life possible. Better roads don’t cost money; they save money, and they make U.S. businesses and workers more productive.

In most cases, it’s government — either federal or local money — that builds the infrastructure that moves America’s people and its goods around. In 2009, there was a brief effort to put more money into roads and railroads as part of the stimulus bill, but the additional federal money merely replaced state and local funds that had dried up in the recession.

Republicans derided the stimulus spending by sarcastically repeating Barack Obama’s phrase about “shovel-ready” projects.

And since then, we’ve slashed funding on infrastructure with passion. It seems that shovels themselves are being repudiated. At the current rates of spending, we’re barely replacing the infrastructure that’s wearing out. We’re not adding to our productive capacity at all. Nor are we chipping away of the trillions of dollars of deferred maintenance.

In net terms, after deducting depreciation and obsolescence, government investments have fallen to the lowest level in 65 years. In the 1950s and 1960s, federal, state and local government net investments averaged 3% of gross domestic product per year. That’s when they built the airports, highways, schools and bridges that are now falling apart.

Now, net investments are only a tenth as much — just 0.3% of GDP in the latest quarter.

For the federal government, net investments have actually been negative for the past seven quarters, which means that federal assets are falling apart faster than we are fixing them.

That’s an insane national policy, because spending on our national infrastructure would solve a lot of our biggest economic problems while costing us very little in financing costs, with long-term interest rates hovering at 3%. As economist Larry Summers says, “If now is not the moment to rebuild these airports, when will that moment ever come?”

Investing in infrastructure is as close to a free lunch as we can get. It would put millions of people to work, it would boost our productivity and international competitiveness, it would promote commerce in underserved cities, towns and counties, and it would truly be an investment that our children and grandchildren would profit from.

And, of course, as seven grieving families can attest, it would save lives.

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Well how are you going to invest in infrastructure when the Democrats give away all the money to Welfare and the Republicans spend it all on the military?

How can you not invest in the very foundation that you want to build the national economy on? The argument, I think, is that there'd be more to go around today if we had kept up with those basic investments. We instead sacrificed them at the altar of low taxes. And we all pay the price for that stupidity.

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How can you not invest in the very foundation that you want to build the national economy on? The argument, I think, is that there'd be more to go around today if we had kept up with those basic investments. We instead sacrificed them at the altar of low taxes. And we all pay the price for that stupidity.

Well, we needed all that money for all those wars we have fought over the past few decades. All joking aside, we grossly neglected maintenance, upgrading etc. You can't have low taxes and full services, something's got to give.The roads and bridges are falling apart faster than they can be maintained. Come to NE and see the toll this winter took on the roadways. BY was right about investing in infrastructure.


R.I.P Spooky 2004-2015

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I agree our infrastructure is terrible, however we don't know the cause of the accident. And, by all accounts, the driver seems to have been speeding. If this is true, Amtrak is going to get sued.


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Bodies are not even cold and dog finds fault with conservatives . Never let a crisis go to waste . Train going twice the speed limit around a curve .... We need twice the money to fix the cause of the accident ....


If more citizens were armed, criminals would think twice about attacking them, Detroit Police Chief James Craig

Florida currently has more concealed-carry permit holders than any other state, with 1,269,021 issued as of May 14, 2014

The liberal elite ... know that the people simply cannot be trusted; that they are incapable of just and fair self-government; that left to their own devices, their society will be racist, sexist, homophobic, and inequitable -- and the liberal elite know how to fix things. They are going to help us live the good and just life, even if they have to lie to us and force us to do it. And they detest those who stand in their way."
- A Nation Of Cowards, by Jeffrey R. Snyder

Tavis Smiley: 'Black People Will Have Lost Ground in Every Single Economic Indicator' Under Obama

white-privilege.jpg?resize=318%2C318

Democrats>Socialists>Communists - Same goals, different speeds.

#DeplorableLivesMatter

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How can you not invest in the very foundation that you want to build the national economy on? The argument, I think, is that there'd be more to go around today if we had kept up with those basic investments. We instead sacrificed them at the altar of low taxes. And we all pay the price for that stupidity.

Black folks been destroying cities faster than we can build them up.

1430229493840.cached.jpg


If more citizens were armed, criminals would think twice about attacking them, Detroit Police Chief James Craig

Florida currently has more concealed-carry permit holders than any other state, with 1,269,021 issued as of May 14, 2014

The liberal elite ... know that the people simply cannot be trusted; that they are incapable of just and fair self-government; that left to their own devices, their society will be racist, sexist, homophobic, and inequitable -- and the liberal elite know how to fix things. They are going to help us live the good and just life, even if they have to lie to us and force us to do it. And they detest those who stand in their way."
- A Nation Of Cowards, by Jeffrey R. Snyder

Tavis Smiley: 'Black People Will Have Lost Ground in Every Single Economic Indicator' Under Obama

white-privilege.jpg?resize=318%2C318

Democrats>Socialists>Communists - Same goals, different speeds.

#DeplorableLivesMatter

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Bodies are not even cold and dog finds fault with conservatives . Never let a crisis go to waste . Train going twice the speed limit around a curve .... We need twice the money to fix the cause of the accident ....

Funny to see a liberal crying for more money for a private company whose sole investor is the gumbernment.

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From your source - looking at the first and last chart, it would appear that despite flat passenger numbers, the injury count has increased.

NA-CF789_PACRAS_9U_20150513143309.jpg

That's odd, isn't it? You know what else happened during the time the injury count shot up? Infrastructure invesment went down. Pure coincidence, I am sure...

MW-DL909_netinv_20150513123156_ZH.jpg?uu

If memory serves me correct, the bodies weren't cold in Benghazi and you were blaming Democrats.

But that's different.

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Black folks been destroying cities faster than we can build them up.

1430229493840.cached.jpg

You don't give a s*** about cities where black people live. Give it a rest.

Don't know how statements like this fly....


“Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.” – Coretta Scott King

"Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge." -Toni Morrison

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

President-Obama-jpg.jpg

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You don't give a s*** about cities where black people live. Give it a rest.

Don't know how statements like this fly....

invest-urban-communities.jpg


If more citizens were armed, criminals would think twice about attacking them, Detroit Police Chief James Craig

Florida currently has more concealed-carry permit holders than any other state, with 1,269,021 issued as of May 14, 2014

The liberal elite ... know that the people simply cannot be trusted; that they are incapable of just and fair self-government; that left to their own devices, their society will be racist, sexist, homophobic, and inequitable -- and the liberal elite know how to fix things. They are going to help us live the good and just life, even if they have to lie to us and force us to do it. And they detest those who stand in their way."
- A Nation Of Cowards, by Jeffrey R. Snyder

Tavis Smiley: 'Black People Will Have Lost Ground in Every Single Economic Indicator' Under Obama

white-privilege.jpg?resize=318%2C318

Democrats>Socialists>Communists - Same goals, different speeds.

#DeplorableLivesMatter

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