Biden’s Amtrak Infrastructure Scam

Source: Mises Institute.

The writer explains that Stumble Joe’s Amtrak upgrade cannot honestly be described as an “investment” because there is no possibility that adding new operations will increase “profits” from which taxpayers will earn a return. Instead, adding new operations will only increase the cost that taxpayers pay for Amtrak.

Ideally, an investor trades a sum of money for the promise of getting more money back at some future time. Many factors influence the transaction, but the main consideration is the probability that the enterprise will make profits through effective management. Only by making profits is the management able to give back more than the investor contributed.

To me, it just seems weird for government to be in the investment business.

25 thoughts on “Biden’s Amtrak Infrastructure Scam

  1. I think the plan is to make highway and air travel so expensive that rail will be the only mode of travel available to the little people over a distance in the US will be rail.

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    1. Cars aren’t going away, especially in a country as big as ours. Air travel is expensive and deeply unpleasant, and an affront to civil libertarians. I’m not ready to give up passenger vehicles yet either. I have two young children and a dog, which pretty much precludes any other type of travel.

      Have you ridden Amtrak recently? For me, it’s an excellent option for intermediate-length trips. It should probably be cheaper to attract a few more riders, but the cars are clean, the seats are large, you can get up and walk around, no dealing with the TSA gestapo. I find it to be a very civilized way to travel. I wish there were more routes. I’ve only done Northeast Corridor trips, but some of the scenic routes the author of the article mentioned taking (particularly in the PNW) are on my to-do list.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. RE: “What’s the annual ROI for money ‘invested’ in roads, bridges, tunnels, etc?”

      There isn’t any, because there is no “investment.” The question itself is meaningless.

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      1. My point exactly. Infrastructure helps people and goods get where they need to go. It’s not an “investment” in the most strict definition of the word, but there are social and economic benefits.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. RE: “…but there are social and economic benefits.”

          So you agree with the analysis in the article. The next step is to grasp that “social and economic benefits” which one can see always come at the expense of social and economic loses one doesn’t see. You can’t grow wheat on a paved road, for example.

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          1. I skimmed it. If that was the point I must have missed it.

            This guy wrote an entire article reminding people that laying new track costs money? I think most people grasp that concept.

            Liked by 3 people

          2. RE: “If that was the point I must have missed it.”

            The point I see in it is that using words improperly distorts the conversation. Calling government spending on infrastructure an “investment” is a misuse of terms. The misuse is particularly unfortunate because it obscures other realities — for example that government spending has opportunity costs.

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          3. “Calling government spending on infrastructure an “investment” is a misuse of terms.”

            I guess English is not your first language? An “investment” is when money is spent in anticipation of future benefits. The government spending money on infrastructure is a text book example of an “investment.”

            Or, if English is your first language, is this just more of the partisan stupidity in evidence when one refers to the President as “Stumble Joe?”

            Liked by 1 person

          4. RE: “An ‘investment’ is when money is spent in anticipation of future benefits.”

            Humpty Dumpty famously said, “When I use a word it means just what I say it means — neither more nor less.” Since your definition doesn’t appear in any dictionary I have access to, are you trying out for the role?

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          5. My statement of what the word “investment” refers to is accurate. That you cannot find it word for word in a dictionary does not make it wrong or inaccurate. It is the CONCEPT that matters. Duh!

            For example, the first definition that I find is . . .

            “investment : the action or process of investing money for profit or material result.”

            When the government makes an investment in infrastructure it does so to produce a “material result.”

            Liked by 1 person

          6. “ You can’t grow wheat on a paved road, for example.”

            True enough.

            But you can’t get the wheat to market without some form of transportation. Or ship it overseas without a port facility.

            Infrastructure is not an either/or concept. It is both necessary and complementary to a nation’s economy.

            Liked by 2 people

          7. RE: “When the government makes an investment in infrastructure it does so to produce a ‘material result.'”

            Buying office supplies produces a material result, but it’s pretty stupid to call the expense an “investment.” The Mises article explains why.

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          8. RE: “Infrastructure is not an either/or concept. It is both necessary and complementary to a nation’s economy.”

            So what? That doesn’t mean that government spending for infrastructure is desirable.

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          9. The article you cite was written by a doctrinaire idiot who really and truly is dumber than a bag of rocks. At one point he offers this – “In fact, governments do not make economic investments, period” – as an unassailable matter of fact. It is utter nonsense and if you were more than a half-wit you would agree.

            This conversation is the kind of waste of effort that any attempt to converse with you ends up at. I accurately describe “investment” as money spent in anticipation of future benefits. That is an accurate statement based entirely on the meaning of the word. It does not need defending but you attack it any way. Stupidly attack it. To prove what? That you don’t like Biden’s investment priorities?

            By the way, if you knew ANYTHING about real world economics you would know that spending money on office supplies IS an investment when one is trying to get a new company off the ground. Venture capitalists fund operating expenses of start-ups all the time. Such funding is carried on their books as capital investments.

            Liked by 1 person

          10. RE: “That is an accurate statement based entirely on the meaning of the word.”

            The proper definition was the subject of the article. But you wanted to debate your own definition.

            Apart from that, I caution you to abide by the forum rules. Here you not only engaged in ad hominem, you posted off topic.

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          11. More threats of moderation, eh?
            How pathetic is that?

            I did not post off topic. I responded directly to the clueless nonsense you spread. Your headline calls the President’s infrastructure investments a “scam” based on this idiotic piece proposing an imaginary definition of the word “investment.” You may think it is unwise to invest in Amtrac but that does not make the investments being suggested a “scam.” You people have so absorbed Trump’s ugly and ignorant style it is almost impossible to have a civil conversation with you. “Stumble Joe?” Again? Really?

            The stupidity of this doctrinaire piece is incapsulated in the statement I cited. . . “In fact, governments do not make economic investments, period.” What does this idiot think a bridge is if it is not an economic investment?

            Liked by 1 person

          12. RE: “What does this idiot think a bridge is if it is not an economic investment?”

            I imagine he’d call it a “capital expenditure.” Not all capital expenditures are investments, except in the unrealistic sense that they contribute to operations. . The point of the article is to show that a “material result” or a “future benefit” (your criteria) must be understood in terms of profit or loss. This is not a hard concept to grasp.

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          13. Being easy to grasp does not make an idea correct.

            Words have meanings and the word “investment” has been used to mean exactly what Joe Biden means when he talks about government investments in infrastructure for many decades. Take this report from 1996 about the government INVESTMENT in the Interstate Highway System during the Eisenhower administration.

            http://www.publicpurpose.com/freeway1.htm

            Government investments ARE made for “profits” – profits for the citizenry and those profits need not be monetary but might be in the form of greater safety, better health, better recreation or better opportunities.

            In short, President Biden’s use of the word “investment” is NOT a “scam.” The charge is ridiculous “conservative” partisan malarkey.

            Liked by 1 person

          14. RE: “Government investments ARE made for ‘profits’ – profits for the citizenry and those profits need not be monetary but might be in the form of greater safety, better health, better recreation or better opportunities.”

            It is precisely that way of thinking that the article seeks to refute. Your cherry picking of word definitions to support otherwise fallacious reasoning doesn’t help your case in disagreeing with the article.

            Just because government spending produces a “good” you happen to like doesn’t justify calling the expense an “investment.”

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          15. “Just because government spending produces a “good” you happen to like doesn’t justify calling the expense an “investment.””

            And just because YOU don’t like it, doesn’t mean you CAN’T call it an investment.

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          16. Laughable. Now you are misusing an accounting term – “expense.”

            “Expenses” are expenditures incurred to generate current period revenues. They are to be distinguished from capital expenditures which benefit this and multiple future periods. There is no way that money spent to build a bridge designed to last fifty years can be called an “expense.”

            You think that “investments” are good things so your government-hating philosophy – and that of your source – cannot stomach the fact that the government can do good things. You are forced by the doctrinaire trap you are in to repeat utter nonsense such as the keystone of this silly essay and I quote – ” In fact, governments do not make economic investments, period.”

            Uh, yes they do and no amount of mental masturbation can change that fact. In economics and in accounting an “investment” is a capital expenditure made in anticipation of future benefits. You say your source would call bridge building a “capital expenditure” but not an “investment.” What a bunch of hooey!

            Here is the real point – because you or some “conservative” egghead would like to define “investment” in very special ways does not turn President Biden’s accurate and common use of the word into a “scam.” That you try to spin this solipsistic quibble in that direction shows what partisan bullshit it actually is.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Paris to London takes about 2 1/2 hours, 13 times per day, on high speed rail. City center to city center.

    Even if we fly, it takes longer from here to NY. Airtime, plus TSA time, plus commute, parking, cabs, etc fro outlying airports to city centers.

    China has 24,000 miles of high speed rail with a goal of 38,000 miles by 2035.

    We have…uh, hmm, none.

    Infrastructure affects our efficiency and competitiveness in the world. So what did we do under the last administration? Build or slap tariffs?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “Infrastructure affects our efficiency and competitiveness in the world.”

      Milk chocolate is nutritious and energizing.

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