Reason Mag: Detroit’s Train to Nowhere

Reason Magazine has an interesting story on Detroit’s plan to move forward with a light rail system, even though “one quarter of the city’s 140 square miles are deserted.” A very good question to ask might be, “Who would use a light rail system running from Downtown to the city’s edge?” The majority of people who live in the suburbs and work in the city own automobiles. This is, after all, the “motor” city. Will a light rail system change the nature of Detroit area commuters who happen to like driving to work alone?

In a town lacking essential services, what do local leaders and federal politicians have in mind for helping the city? What’s needed to hoist Detroit back to its 1950 heyday, when it was America’s fourth largest city, with more than double its current population?

Why, light rail, of course!

The Motor City is moving ahead with a plan to build a 9.3-mile light rail line that will run from downtown Detroit to the edge of the suburbs. It’ll cost an estimated $500 million. Three-quarters of the bill will be paid by federal taxpayers, with the rest picked up by a consortium of foundations and businesses.

If built, the project will end up on the Mackinac Center’s list of government-subsidized white elephants touted as “crucial to Detroit’s comeback,” its “rebirth,” and pivotal to “turning things around.” In reality, it’ll just be another train to nowhere, much like Detroit’s existing light rail line, the unfortunately named “People Mover,” which operates at 2.5% of capacity.

Red State Uprising

Erick Erickson is the Editor of and the author Red State Uprising, the best treatise I’ve read on reclaiming the Republican Party for conservatism.

Erickson argues that a conservative candidate can no longer be defined by his/her rhetoric on abortion, support for the military, and tax cuts (rhetoric which often has no results), but rather by a commitment to limited goverment. He argues further than conservatives must work within the Republican Party, often against establishment Republicans, if they hope to actually win elections and be in positions of influence for real change.

Some notable quotes from the first chapter…

Conservatives must be willing to accept that being pro-life and pro-tax cuts does not a conservative make. In most every way, Republicans, particularly the leadership of the Republican Party, have behaved as pro-life statists – big government guys who are socially conservative and fiscally reckless.

…too few Republicans were willing to stand up for conservatism against statism when the Republicans were in charge.

Time and again, when given the opportunity, the Republican establishment endorsed liberals and moderates, while impugning or opposing conservatives who ran with the Spirit of ’94 [The Contract with America] in their campaigns.

Republican actions during the beginning of the twwenty-first century did not just increase spending. Their actions took away freedom and betrayed the very real sense of the GOP being for entrepreneurs and individuals. In effect, the GOP decided to run as Democrat-Lite.

For self-described conservatives, it is easy to be pro-life, pro-troops, and pro-tax cuts. In most races, that is not how you separate the wheat from the chaff. You separate them on their belief in limited government.

Erickson’s prescription for renewing a conservative agenda by working within the Republican Party is alone worth the price of the book.

Erick Erickson is my guest on Monday, October 11 at 4:20 pm ET. Stream the interview live at