By Dave Johnson
Fellow with Campaign for America’s Future
The commute between Baltimore and DC is the 4th-most congested route in the country. But a high-speed rail line would make this trip an 18-minute breeze (and also free up some of that congestion). They have been talking about building this rail line since 1994. Meanwhile other countries have been doing.
Japan, Europe and now China are known for their efficient, high-speed rail transportation systems.
By 2012, just four years after it began its first high-speed passenger service, China will have more high-speed train tracks than the rest of the world combined.
Why is China inveswting so heavily in high-speed rail infrastructure? What does this investment bring to China?
…designed to boost exports and revolutionize the flow of people and goods in the world’s fastest-rising economic powerhouses.
“Just like our investment in the highway system in the 1950s and the rail system in the late 1800s, this will pay huge dividends for China to years to come,”
Governement spending pays dividends for years to come
That’s right. Government spending is investment that pays off. It pays off in jobs today, and it pays dividends for years to come. As I wrote the other day in China’s Stimulus Payoff “because China’s government has invested heavily internally in high-speed rail, China is now in a position to bid on our own high-speed rail projects.“
Japan also invested heavily in high-speed rail, and they are also bidding on our (talked about) rail projects. In the news: LaHood Rides 502 KPH Maglev Train as Japan Seeks U.S. Sales
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood rode on a 502 kilometer-per-hour (312 mph) magnetic- levitation train in Japan, stoking optimism that the Asian nation may be able to sell the technology overseas.
Japan’s government has pledged to support JR Central’s bid to build the Washington-Baltimore line, possibly including loans from a state-owned bank. Maglev trains float above the tracks and are propelled along by magnetic currents.
Other countries understand that investing in infrastructure creates jobs today and enables economic growth later. Other countries understand that having a coordinated nation industrial/economic policy helps their businesses compete in the world’s economy. Other countries are swooping down on us, bidding for our minuscule projects and selling us their green energy systems. Meanwhile we are mired in this weird “free market” anti-government ideology that keeps us from taking control of our destiny and our economic future.
Instead of talking about cutting back on spending, we should instead be investing heavily in our people and our infrastructure.
Johnson also is a fellow at the Commonweal Institute and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for the Renewal of the California Dream.
Follow Dave Johnson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dcjohnson
Posted May 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm, in From Campaign for America's Future