Archive for the ‘Richmond and Virginia’ Category

Rail investment is good. Amtrak is not.

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

Pro-rail politicians have seized on the recent spike in gas prices as weapon in their rhetorical arsenal. I was happy to learn that Virginia and the Feds have decided to invest $13.5 million in improving the Richmond-DC rail link. Congress also passed a law, which President Bush will most likely sign, that, doubles Amtrak’s funding. How the railroad thinking of spending its extra cash? By sinking it into money-loosing long-distance routes.

In many cases, like between DC and Richmond, there is a good economic case to made for spending money on rail.  It is impossible to expect private money to fund rail to compete with our socialized road system, and there is sometimes reason to beleive that increased rail infastructure is what the free market would provide if it existed. However, the money-holes that are Amtrak’s long distance trains provide no such reason. The political nature of Amtrak’s funding insures that it will continue to make descision based more on bringing home the bacon than on effecient investment. This is why Amtrak should die and be replaced by inter-state cooperation on a more flexible, ad-hoc basis, and maybe, after de-socialization of roads, by private investors.

If only Jesse Jackson were this transparent…

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

The Richmond Free Press is not too happy with Ukrop’s closing its Harrison Street store near downtown. According to a recent editorial on the subject, the Ukrop brothers “moaned and groaned” that the store had not turned a profit in five years. Wow. Those whiny Ukrops, always insisting on running stores that don’t bleed money. But wait! The charges get worse:

The Ukrops, consistent with their political proclivities, cancelled advertising with the Free Press and ramped up advertising spending in the white-oriented, conservative Richmond Times-Dispatch while, at the same time, even reserving in-store newspaper distribution space for white owned newspapers.

Normally, race-baiters go through a little more trouble to be discreet about reaping personal profits from bullying rhetoric. I sure wish a business refusing to buy things from me could, as a matter of course, “raise questions about the level of the company’s civic virute.”

That said, it is a shame that a downtown(-ish) Ukrop’s couldn’t support itself, because the ability to support a grocery store is the sign of a healthy, attractive neighborhood. However, Ukrop’s recognizing that its model wasn’t working might leave room for other, more innovative approaches. At the very least, it will make a valuable parcel of land available for a more appropriate use.

Post-Modern Mayor

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

I think Roy West, a former Mayor of Richmond, would fit in quite well with the Comparative Literature department here at Yale.

Here are a few gems from his recent article in Style Weekly, Richmond’s equivalent of the New Haven Advocate:

Weightless moments of disbelief emerge from those who do not recognize that an adequate level of tolls is necessary to cover operational costs, repairs, maintenance and debt service.

A weightless moment of disbelief emerged when I read this sentence.

With the majority-white counties and a majority-black city, a race subtext emerges that harkens to a dark period of history.

Translation: People who disagree with me are racist.

The detractors of this reality check must be disabused of any erroneous perception concerning the decision-makers in this matter

Don’t use one word where three will do.