I’m pissed off again. This reporter says Alex Metcalfe’s Indiana HSR plan would generate 19,000 permanent jobs but there’s a “hitch:” It will cost $2.5 billion over 10 years.
Why is that sum a “hitch?” Why isn’t it simply described as the “price?” If I go to the supermarket and find that grapefruit costs 69 cents a pound, that’s not a “hitch.” It’s what grapefruit costs these days. If I drop off my shirt at the dry cleaner’s and they tell me it will cost $1 to have it laundered, that’s not a “hitch” (unless I walked in believing that somebody is laundering shirts for free—right?). It’s the price of getting a shirt cleaned.
The media do this all the time. Highways and airports get paid for with huge sums of taxpayer money that are rarely questioned, but when it’s announced that a railroad improvement also requires payment, everybody is shocked and sobered. Who is supposed to pay for these improvements—the Tooth Fairy?
These sums may sound big, but when you calculate the creation of 19,000 new permanent jobs and all the ripple-effect economic growth they will create, including higher tax receipts to the state and federal governments that will put up the money, the Indiana high-speed project sounds like a bargain. And when you throw in the “green” payoffs and the sheer economic efficiency of rail transportation vs. auto, paying $2.5 billion over 10 years to get all these benefits sounds like such a no-brainer that even a stringer for a Northwest Indiana newspaper ought to be able to get it. Apparently, we advocates still have lots of work to do.
I remain in near-despair over the media’s repeated failures to cover railroad issues effectively. Their anti-rail bias continues to show even when they make their best effort to pose as “fair and balanced.”