A rather serious criticism, smearing my intellect, and political integrity, has been written by the good John Bruce. These claims, that I am inconsistent, hypocritical, and illogical, would be of concern if proven. I leave the reader to decide.
Let us think of two sets of actions:
1. The set of things I would do if I were king of the world, and could simply impose those policies I believe to be good.
2. The set of things I do, in fact, as myself rather than as king of the world, and possessing as I do only puny powers to effect change in politics and economic regulation.
Mr. Bruce, hearing that I ride on Amtrak and enjoy it, concludes that if I were king of the world, I would continue Amtrak in its current state, with all its wasteful subsidies. This logical leap baffles me.
My claim was more modest, as befits my modest faculties. GIVEN that Amtrak exists, and GIVEN that the train is going to run anyway, should I ride it? I said yes, I like it, it's convenient, and it doesn't cost much.
If I travel by Amtrak, whose trains will be running anyway, and whose unionized employees and dining facilities I have myself decried in a previous post, then do I "cost" the republic anything more? Does it cost the U.S. government for me to ride the train?
In terms of average cost, of course it does. One takes total cost, and divide by number of riders. And Mr. Bruce goes to surprising length to fetishize this non sequitur. The claim seems to be that by riding the train I am, indeed, costing taxpayers money.
But this is an absurd fallacy. At the margin, the cost to Amtrak of my occupying a seat, one of many which would otherwise have been empty, and my use of the dining car, which was open and staffed in any case, is near zero. By patronizing Amtrak, and paying more than marginal, though less than average, cost, in fact I am reducing their deficit. Far from costing Mr. Bruce, I am saving him a bit of coin, and expected from him a bit of gratitude. (sniffle)
As for the apparent belief that I am king of the world, I am flattered, but confused. Sure, if I were king, I would be a libertarian king, and end public subsidies of Amtrak. But what does that have to do with deciding, as a simple citizen, whether to ride an Amtrak that exists over my protests? They are just separate questions. And by writing that I like Amtrak, do I commit an offense, in that others might read, and try the train also? I don't see how. More riders will reduce the deficit, and weigh down the growing lightness of the apoplectic J. Bruce's coin purse.
The comments about my income, multiplying the magnitude of my theivery as a "privileged elite"? Well, in a person I respect less than Mr. Bruce, I would say these reveal a sniveling, puling envy. In this case, I assume the comments are simply uncharacteristic, and manners require that I ignore them, much as one ignores flatulence at a dinner party.