Perhaps One of the Most Snide Comments Ever

About the proposed commuter train in Northeast Atlanta comes from Emory Morsberger

Morsberger has described the prospective ridership as “… not country folks with gun racks on the back of their pickups. They are $150,000-a-year professors and scientists who’d rather be relaxing on a train with a notebook computer than fighting traffic on I-85.”

Your kind aren’t welcome on the train. Of course black folk aren’t either. That’s why Gwinnett keeps blocking MARTA extensions (why yes, I am pouring oxygen on an open flame).

I actually support commuter rail. Government makes no real profit off roads so I don’t really find commuter rail subsidization arguments to be super effective.

I will say this though — a commuter rail has the potential to be a white elephant. It can burden the state with costs. I’m willing for the county governments to provide some money, but some does not mean infinite. The majority of the costs should be paid for by commuters through tickets and parking lots.

I also think there needs to be widespread community support for the project and eminent domain use should be minimized. The Lovejoy line was nutty because so few people supported it. I suspect that the Gwinnett line might get more support. If so, the taxpayers there should be willing to cover the costs.

33 comments

  1. atlantaman says:

    “Morsberger has described the prospective ridership as “… not country folks with gun racks on the back of their pickups.”

    Comments like that will really move the cause forward with the GOP leadership. Maybe they should put forth a proposal that only the New York Times will be sold at the train station and classical music will be played for background listening pleasure on the train’s sound-system.

  2. Jason Pye says:

    Comments like this won’t help either:

    Things have moved about as smoothly as traffic on Jimmy Carter Boulevard. “Many times when I’m dealing with state legislators,” Morsberger says, “they’ll look at me like I’m introducing some new kind of rocket science. We’re talking about transportation that existed for most of the last century in Atlanta, the railroad capital of the South. There are already train stations in a couple of the cities along the routes.”

  3. John Galt says:

    Two comments:
    1) Why not allow private companies to bid on building and running a train, eliminating the need for government involvement and all inefficiency and waste sure to come from government’s role? Are the train advocates afraid a private company might decide there is not enough demand and, therefore, profit motive for the project? Is there is no profit potential, why build it?

    2) Has this Morsberger douchebag ever stepped foot in “the country” or ever been involved with an agribusiness? Needless to say, many “country folk” make more than $150k. They just don’t feel the need to lease BMWs and buy the “I’m a UGA grad” tassled loafers by the gross.

    Someone should take this city boy Emory Morsberger on a canoe trip to Rabun County.

  4. Joy says:

    So, if I’m against government spending to pay for the rails, will I be discounted as simply being a disgruntled pickup truck driver?

  5. R.E.M. says:

    If this Emory fella is so smart and good at making money, why should the he need the “good ol’ boy’s” at the Capitol to give him and his little group state money? Sorry Morsberger, you just added one more person who is now against your little train escapade! How bout getting the money from your hi and mighty rich friends from up north!

  6. joe says:

    “Imagine yourself an observer using Google Earth to peer at the northeast quadrant of Metro Atlanta. Focus on that blur of stalled taillights extending for miles and miles north along I-85…”

    I went to Google Earth just to see if they had changed anything in the last 2-3 months. The shots of the Atlanta area were taken on a Sunday morning. When I looked at the northeast quadrant, what I saw was cars spaced about 200 yards apart.

    The very first line of the article says that we should not take anything that the author or Morsberger says seriously.

  7. GTdem says:

    “How does one “pour” a gas?”

    A dense gas in a container, surrounded by a less dense gas, can be poured out of the container in much the same way a liquid can be poured. It’s a pretty standard freshmen chemistry demonstration.

    “If there is no profit potential, why build it?”

    The profit of a private firm is not an accurate way to measure the net benefits to society. In the case of public transportation, the private firm you wish would build the railroad can not turn the benefit society gets from having fewer cars on the road into profit. These situations are called externalities. There are costs or benefits that are “external” to the private firm’s costs or profits so the private firm fails to consider them in their decision making. In this case, the company can not capture the benefits of less freeway traffic so it would likely not provide the service. Again, private firm profit is not a proxy for the net benefits to society.

  8. freeloader says:

    “In this case, the company can not capture the benefits of less freeway traffic so it would likely not provide the service.”

    Something tells me scientists and professors are not what is causing the traffic jams. If it’s really just about making sure $150,000 a year scientists and professors can relax with a notebook computer while travelling between Atlanta and Athens then lets just lease a helicopter to ferry them back and forth – it will be a hell of a lot cheaper than building and maintaing a rail-line.

  9. Erick says:

    Thanks GTDem. I’ve done the experiment many times, though Carbon Dioxide always works the best since it is heavier than air.

  10. bowersville says:

    I’m sure if the $150k+ scientist and professors pool their own money, they can afford to lease a pilot and jet ranger to fly the Athens/Atlanta route.

    However, the flight may not allow much in the way of laptop time.

  11. Chris says:

    They are $150,000-a-year professors and scientists who’d rather be relaxing on a train with a notebook computer than fighting traffic on I-85.”

    Oh, I didn’t realize this was a tax subsidy for the rich. Heck, now I’m all for it. Taxpayers should be forced to pay for my latte sipping, iBlogging lifestyle.

    Seriously. What could be more important than me being able to wolf down a Grande Half-Caff Sugar-Free Vanilla Latte, while reading Peach Pundit on my way to work? Certianlly not such pedantic blue collar pursuits and educating your kids, saving for college, or getting junior braces.

    Thank you Jason for showing me the light. Rugy was wrong. You are this taxpayers best friend.

  12. Chris says:

    Speaking of the iBlogging lifestyle, We need commuter rail to Macon too. Just think how much better Peach Pundit would be if Erick could blog on his trip from Macon to the airport before he hops on his private jet to be whisked off to secret meetings with the Vice President.

    Seriously Jason, how could you possibly think something as trivial as paying for your education is more important that letting your betters ride to town in luxury.

  13. John Galt says:

    Some easy solutions to avoiding traffic that don’t involve getting the proletariat to pay for your train:

    1) Move closer to your work.
    2) Leave for work earlier.
    3) Leave for home later.
    4) Support legislation that deports the illegal aliens who clog our roads.

    Everyone wants to go to Heaven. No one wants to die.

  14. Joy says:

    Deportation as a traffic solution? Really?

    What percentage of the drivers are illegal aliens?

    Is it a question of their driving skills, or merely their presence?

  15. John Galt says:

    Joy,

    I don’t know where you work or how you get there. Maybe it’s just me, but I see an awful lot of beat up vans with enough ladders tied on top to scale the Capitol during my commute. Not to mention the landscaping trucks and trailers. And that’s just on the interstates.

    But please also see points 1-3 of my previous post. Why the government has to fund needless transportation alternatives is beyond me. Where you live and work is your choice.

  16. GTdem says:

    John Galt,

    Perhaps you missed my earlier post. Government funds transportation projects because free markets do not always provide the necessary incentives for private firms to invest in transportation projects. I know this next statement will really irritate some, but free markets do not always produce the optimal solution for society as a whole. Sometimes markets fail.

    Much like people, we must understand the shortcomings and failings of free markets to truly appreciate and love them.

  17. Demonbeck says:

    I would thank God that the elitists who support these rail projects are the only ones who can read, but I’m not sure if we haven’t disproven His existence yet. If the hoi polloi could read, they’d probably be pissed at this obvious Yankee who thinks that because he ate at Harold’s once he understands the rest of the state of Georgia.

    Maybe we should take the money that would have gone to this project and buy all women outside of metro Atlanta some shoes – that way they’ll only be pregnant.

  18. Jason Pye says:

    free markets do not always provide the necessary incentives for private firms to invest in transportation projects.

    Making money is the incentive.

  19. Joy says:

    John,

    Your first three suggestions are very good ones. The fourth caused me to choke on my morning cup of coffee.

    I happen to commute down my hallway most days. Where and when you work is a choice, and should be left to the employer/employee, and that government spending will do little to improve alternative commutes.

    I’m one of those people who do not think government should be spending money on roads, let alone commuter rail. Heck, I don’t think government should be spending ANY money.

    The days I do drive around 285 to see my clients, I am crowded and endangered by citizens chatting on phones & eating burgers far more than I am by the occasional van with a ladder strapped to the top. (I’d wager that well over half those vans are driven by citizens, too.)

    And NO, I don’t want to see a bunch of laws prohibiting cell phones and drive-thru food. Punative insurance rates should nail those people.

  20. John Galt says:

    GTDem,

    Yes, yes, we all took Macro and Microeconomics in college. Extranalities, blah blah blah. Just because you wrote it (“Perhaps you missed my earlier post”) does not mean you are correct.

    Here’s an extranality I’d like to see – a little extra green in everyone’s pocket. We are not our brother’s keeper.

    If you want to avoid traffic, get a horse.

  21. TM2000 says:

    I tell you what I find to be very hypocritical is the fact that the highway lobby insists that rail issues should be passed by the voters but at the same time they will never let a constitutional amendment to allow fuel taxes to go beyond roads to ever reach the voters.

  22. TM2000 says:

    This same discussion is taking place in Jason Pye’s blog and we have yet to see if Davis and Douglas will answer the question I have put to them.

  23. Dawgfan says:

    Yea, yea, yea, liquid gases, taxpayers, traffic so forth and so on. What I really want to know is will it run on Saturdays and can I bring a cooler on it?

  24. formandfile says:

    Seconded. If the braintrain will weekend as the gameday boozetrain, then that sends the project into net benefit territory for me.

  25. GTdem says:

    I guess it’s easier to shut your eyes, cover your ears and repeat “government is evil, government is evil…” than it is to use what you learned in those economics classes you claim to have taken.

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