The Never-Ending Woes of a Government “Enterprise”

History is something one can try to escape, but sometimes you can’t as millions of train riders find out every day.
They can’t escape Penn Station falling apart along with Amtrak, New York City commuter railroads, and the New York City subways. They all have the same problem: Every day they are reminded of the sordid history of government enterprise with derailments, delays and the billions of dollars of red ink of these dysfunctional systems. The bill is handed to the taxpayers whether they ride these trains or not.
As the New York City subways, Amtrak, and other government enterprises continue to fail, mainstream media and our political class have consistently missed how we reached this point of rail disasters as the norm. That’s because few of them have time for history. The management of Amtrak, New York Subways is actually a story of generations of the limitless failures of government. Indeed, most of the analyses and criticisms of government ownership and management of the subways are hopeless.
Among the lost are the Goo-Goo groups of the 1930s – who called for public subway ownership – and their scions, the Straphangers Campaign of today. And then there’s the allegedly laissez-faire Manhattan Institute. All reject the privatization discussion. That’s because they work from a proposition that Albany and Washington, owing to their ability to tax and spend, are omnipotent and should continue to run transit systems; that they are part the solution. History proves the opposite.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on July 22, 2017.