Magazine | July 20, 2015, Issue


Choo-choo-choosing Sides

“It has now passed the point of no return. Bonds have been sold, ground has been broken. The project will go forward, and Florida will soon find out whether passenger rail . . . can again turn a profit.”

That sentence is from the last paragraph of “On the Right Track” (National Review, January 26, 2015). Stephen Smith, the author, had every reason for this conclusion after being charmed by Wes Edens, founder and co-chairman of Fortress Investment Group, which owns All Aboard Florida (AAF), whose plan is to institute a Miami-to-Orlando high-speed passenger rail service with 32 trains a day.

National Review can be thanked for galvanizing Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River counties into opposition on the grounds that the train would pose risk, injury, and delay to emergency traffic. The people have heard the words of Thomas Jefferson: “When the legislative or executive functionaries act unconstitutionally, they are responsible to the people.”

President Obama, the U.S. Department of Transportation (Federal Railroad Administration), Homeland Security (the U.S. Coast Guard), the governor of Florida and all of the state’s departments, 27 of the 29 Florida U.S. representatives and senators, 64 of 67 counties and their state representatives and senators, and the majority of Florida’s 19.5 million (less the 600,000 residents of the Treasure Coast): All are in favor of this epitome of political and corporate cronyism.

Yes, “bonds have been sold”: In July 2014, $405 million, five-year, 12 percent were purchased. The question is whether AAF can now sell $1.75 billion of bonds at a reasonable rate. “The project will go forward”: If AAF and the “government” can sustain the legal onslaught that the three objecting counties have begun.

History shows that AAF cannot be profitable, as every passenger train in the world requires a government subsidy to cover operating and capital costs. Therefore, if the project is built, Wes Edens will soon beckon the governor of Florida to Miami: “The engines are idling, the fuel gauges read empty, please hurry, and, governor, bring your checkbook.”

Nicholas Schaus

Vero Beach, Fla.

Stephen Smith responds: Mr. Schaus should alert the authorities responsible for securities fraud in Japan, because if he’s correct that every passenger train in the world requires a government subsidy to cover not only capital but also operating costs, then Japan’s dizzying array of private railroads has been defrauding investors and the public about its profitability for years. He might also consider alerting the authorities in Western Europe, where a few of the state-owned railroads claim to operate with varying degrees of profitability, especially on the continent’s high-speed railways.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

In This Issue


Politics & Policy

After Obergefell

‘Just who do we think we are?” That was Chief Justice John Roberts’s plaintive query to his five colleagues — Justice Anthony Kennedy and the four liberal justices — as ...
Politics & Policy

Acceptable Jeb

The voter who passionately supports Jeb Bush’s campaign but hasn’t already written him a five-figure check is the Bigfoot of the 2016 election cycle: The species is rumored to roam ...
Politics & Policy

Hacking OPM

The year 2014 was not a great one for American security interests, from the Russian invasion of Crimea to the rise of the Islamic State and China’s creeping expansionism in ...
Politics & Policy

Take It Down

The Confederate States of America hasn’t been in operation for a century and a half. Nevertheless, after a photograph of mass murderer Dylann Roof holding a toy-sized Confederate flag flashed ...


Politics & Policy

The Long Shot

Corning, Iowa — There are 40 chairs set out in the foyer of the Corning Opera House. For the record, Corning, Iowa, does not seem like a big opera town. ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Trail of Tears

People just love Inside Out, the new Pixar entertainment, which takes place mostly inside the mind of an eleven-year-old girl, Riley, after she’s uprooted and moved by her parents from ...
City Desk

The Old Order

Time is the great optometrist: It changes how we see things. It chastens fashion and stifles shock. There is no point in being up to the minute when the minute ...


Politics & Policy


Choo-choo-choosing Sides “It has now passed the point of no return. Bonds have been sold, ground has been broken. The project will go forward, and Florida will soon find out whether ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ Love 1, Constitution 0. ‐ Dylann Roof killed nine members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, ages 26 to 87 (one was the pastor and a state senator). ...

Warning Shot

From the blog Everyday Feminism: “Everyday Feminism definitely believes in giving people a heads up about material that might provoke our reader’s trauma. However, we use the phrase ‘content warning’ ...
Politics & Policy


ORDINARY TIME Mirror of spring, the sky at morning yields Its solitudes and clouds to unseen fields As if we always knew some other place. Analysis is tricky. At six or so The light sweeps ...
Happy Warrior

Romantic Comity

For reasons that should be obvious (particularly if you’ve already read the rest of this issue of NR), this is not an ideal time to be assigned the task of ...

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Ten Questions for the ‘Squad’

Democratic infighting reached a fever pitch last week with bickering and personal attacks between members of the “Squad” and other House Democrats. During that period, Squad members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley mostly avoided doing interviews. However, that all ... Read More

The Rise of the Chinese-American Right

On June 13, during a nasty storm, a group of Chinese New Yorkers gathered in front of the gates of Gracie Mansion, the New York mayor’s residence on the Upper East Side, to protest. Inside, Mayor Bill de Blasio was meeting with two dozen or so representatives of the Asian-American community to discuss his ... Read More

How Beto Made Himself into White-Privilege Guy

Robert Francis O’Rourke is white. If it’s any consolation, he’s very sorry about that. “Beto” has been running from his Irish ancestry for some time now. Long before the Left fell headlong into the logical termini of its triune fascination with race, power, and privilege, O’Rourke sensed that there ... Read More
White House

The Trump Steamroller

As we settle into high summer and the period of maximum difficulty in finding anything to fill in hours of television news, especially 24/7 news television, two well-established political trends are emerging in this pre-electoral period: The president’s opponents continue to dig themselves into foxholes that ... Read More

Why Was Richard Spencer on CNN?

Self-avowed white nationalist Richard Spencer went on CNN yesterday. What he said isn't particularly interesting, because Richard Spencer isn't particularly interesting. What is interesting, at least in the sense that a multi-car pile up on the side of the interstate is interesting, is the bastard logic of the ... Read More