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Comment: Re:Compares well (Score 2) 408

No-fault is about taking money away from lawyers, who used to litigate each and every auto accident as a lawsuit in court before the insurers would pay. Eventually the insurers decided that they spent more on lawyers than accident payments, and they had no reason to do so.

If you want to go back to the way things were, you are welcome to spend lots of time and money in court for trivial things, and see how you like it. I will provide you with expert witness testimony for $7.50/minute plus expenses. The lawyers charge more.

In general your insurer can figure out for themselves if you were at fault or not, and AAA insurance usually tells me when they think I was, or wasn't, when they set rates.

Comment: Re:More than $100 (Score 1) 515

If we don't have more than two children per couple, the human race would've died out a long time ago.

I think the proper way to state that is "If we didn't in the past", not "If we don't". If we were to have 2 children per couple (approximately, the real value is enough children to replace each individual but not more) from this day on, it would not be necessary to adjust the number upward to avoid a population bottleneck for tens of thousands of years.

Comment: Re:$30 (Score 1) 515

The Northern California Amtrak is actually pretty good for commuting from Sacramento to the Bay Area and back because the right of way is 4 tracks wide in critical places and it has priority over other trains for much of the time.

Acela in the Boston/NY/DC corridor is also good, because the right of way is 4 tracks or more for most of the way, and it has a track to itself along a lot of the route. Other railroads run on parallel tracks.

For the most part, though, Amtrak suffers from not having exclusive track. It runs on freight lines that host cars so heavy that the rail bends an inch when the wheels are on top of it (I've seen this first hand).

Comment: Re:More than $100 (Score 1) 515

No. If anything, I assert that good trains are a hallmark of the set of good economic policies that lead to the general well-being of the citizenship.

Poor people are poor because they can't get jobs. One of the reasons is that they can't get to jobs. Can't afford a reliable car and insurance and gas in the US? Can't work! Too often, that's the equation.

The other reasons they are poor are that we were equally bad in investing in other things we should have spent more upon publicly, like good primary education. This is caused by more wealthy folks not wanting to pay the necessary taxes.

Comment: Re:More than $100 (Score 1) 515

I have a lawn and there are turkeys and quail in the front yard today and we can hear the coyotes howling some nights (that's on the edge of Berkeley where it meets Contra Costa county). If I want to be in San Francisco, I have to get to the train station, which is a mile away (convenient, by the way, to lower income homes). And then it's all train from there, under the Bay, out again in the middle of the city.

In two more years, I will be able to get to San Jose that way. Right now, that is an hour and twenty minute drive if I start at 6 AM, and two hours if I start later. It will be a shorter time on the train, more relaxing, a hell of a lot safer, and will allow me to work on the way.

This is what railroad transportation can mean for people with lawns.

Comment: Re:$30 (Score 1) 515

Well, I am not convinced by the auto ownership report that failed to include the purchase price (really!)

I think there's a lot about European behavior you're not taking into account - like the kind of car they actually buy (really small compared to ours) and what they use it for (often, just getting to the railroad station), and the clear indication that car ownership was because of their larger middle class which is itself an indication of better economic policies - like having good mass transit.

I think you have the tax picture wrong, and it's still the better-off people who are contributing the most to mass transit through their taxes.

Regarding the bus, I'm not convinced. The biggest problems are that it can't be connected to electricity efficiently (San Francisco's catenary busses can't exceed 40 MPH while on the wire, and rarely approach that speed because they share the route with cars), it is labor intensive compared to rail, and it has the traffic and safety issues of an automobile. And too often light rail is little better than a bus. It's only when there's an exclusive right-of-way that you get efficiency.

And ultimately there may still be people who vote against mass transit, but they are shooting themselves in the foot.

Comment: Re:More than $100 (Score 1) 515

Europe isn't all apartment buildings. Many people have lawns, roads, and good trains.

If I am going to blame anyone, it's going to be whoever encouraged the general public to have more than two children per couple. Which in our case might be the Old Testament. Not those Native Americans you're talking about.

Comment: Re:$30 (Score 3, Interesting) 515

Finance charges means interest on debt. Most people buy automobiles on credit. You either get artificially low interest from an auto company, which means you paid too much for the car and the interest is hidden, or you get it from a credit union, a bank, or one of those non-bank debtors. It's a significant amount.

The rate of depreciation is connected with the resale price of the automobile rather than its service life. That is the book value of the property - what you would get for it if you sold it. You might keep it for 24 years and drive it 250K miles, but most of its resale value is gone long before then, and thus the depreciation schedule should be relatively short.

This illustrates a problem. Most people don't fully apprehend what their real costs are concerning something like an automobile. Most people are bored by accounting, after all. They would not, without a long walk through numbers and principles, make a well informed decision about something like rail vs. car.

Comment: Re:More than $100 (Score 1) 515

Western Europeans have quite high incomes and have built good fast trains. Eastern Europeans have lower incomes and correspondingly worse trains. Building those good trains was just one of the infrastructure costs of developing a good income for Western Europeans.

I think you're buying into a fiction of poor people paying for upper middle class people's trains. Upper middle class people and the businesses around them pay for their trains with their taxes. They also, to a great extent, pay for pulling Eastern Europe out of the muck.

Committees have become so important nowadays that subcommittees have to be appointed to do the work.

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