Instead of scattering nickels and dimes across dozens of states, a better idea would be to increase the train fund at least tenfold so America can have at least one legitimate high-speed rail line like Spain’s Madrid-to-Seville train, which runs at 186 mph (Amtrak averages only 79 nationwide). And let this man-on-the-moon project start in Detroit.We also have the trained workforce. According to UAW Local 651 President Art Reyes, he has “a workforce of 900 that’s been downsized from 9,000, but every one of them is computer-literate and ready for cutting-edge, green-technology stuff, whether it’s wind turbines, next-generation auto batteries, or rail."
Yes, Detroit. The city that was once part of FDR’s “Arsenal of Democracy,” for its part in retooling auto plants to make World War II tanks and bombers, has easily a dozen empty auto plants that could be making train engines and train cars.
Increasing the train fund tenfold is a nice dream, but I doubt there's the political will, especially on the right. That's too bad, because - once again - we lag behind the rest of the world in progress. This is China's plan.
China, as part of their two-year stimulus plan, is poised to spend 3% of their GDP a year on public investments in renewable energy, low-carbon vehicles, high-speed rail, an advanced electric grid, efficiency improvements, and other water-treatment and pollution controls. This is about $12.6 million every hour. In the United States, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act invests about half as much as China on comparable priorities. This represents less than half of one percent of our 2008 gross domestic product.There is good news though. The Midwest appears to be a frontrunner in the race for $8 billion in funds because we're part of the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission, along with seven other states, and federal guidelines give an edge to states that have banded together. It's a start.
Cross-posted at Blogging for Michigan.)