Re-read that last sentence and then ask yourself why the federal government still sees itself as the primary builder of roads and bridges when it costs more and delivers less. This is a real solution to a nagging problem. Why isn't it more widely embraced? Refer to Stossel's previous answer about government: "They want their tentacles on everything." They're about power. The rest of the country wants results, which they must have in order for their businesses to survive and prosper.
Amtrak was another subject addressed on the program. For 40 years, the rail service has been subsidized by government, but it still loses money, lots of it. The guest was Randal O'Toole who specializes in transportation for the CATO Institute. O'Toole noted that when government started subsidizing Amtrak rail fares were lower than airfares. Now it's the reverse. Some routes, like New Orleans to Los Angeles, lose money, but because politicians want trains running through their states and districts, the money keeps flowing in from Washington.
Contrast this with freight trains, O'Toole says, which once were regulated by the government and are now competitive in the private market. Costs, he says, have gone down for freight.
If results and not political outcomes or rehearsed sound bites become the primary objective in our political discourse, it's difficult to refute the arguments coming from Stossel's show. Instead of focusing on the familiar talking points from politicians, John Stossel's program repeatedly demonstrates that the way to a healthier economy and a stronger government is through the private sector, not government. It doesn't require a surgical procedure to remove that "imprint" that government can do it better; just a different way of thinking.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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