CorpusculantCortex t1_j6lp62l wrote

Not to be contrarian, but this is a bit of a gross oversimplification, no?

The 49% covered by the taxpayer still benefits the taxpayer as that infrastructure is what supports business, industry, commerce, etc. So it is not a subsidy for drivers, it is a subsidy for transit infrastructure. Which is a subsidy for the effective functioning of society. If we had these rails, we would still need roads for trucks to deliver goods to stores. The fewer drivers on the road, the higher percentage would be paid for by the general taxpayer. (Plus just as a higher order argument, people without children pay for schools. But like that is the point of taxes, to provide for the common good, is it not? We are supposedly a democracy, not an anarcho-capitalist state. It is not 'unfair' to pay for something you don't use through taxes. That is the social contract we have agreed upon, we all adhere to it, that is the definition of equitable. ie fair.)

I'll admit that cars produce more pollution on average than rail per capita of utilization. But the rest of that article is not necessarily translatable as it is based on data from Germany, which has different laws and subsidies, as well as population density. One noted point was designated free parking as a driving subsidy. That is a bit of a stretch, especially in a rural area where land is relatively cheap. And looking at the research itself, I question it a little, though I am not about to do a deep dive into its rigors. But even on the pollution front, EV cars are becoming more prominent, which helps (though electricity is still predominantly produced by burning fossil fuels so not remotely carbon neutral).

Gas subsidies aren't an argument in this context as trains benefit from that as well.. they run on diesel. Almost no major rail systems outside of intercity tram systems in the US run purely electric as the maintenance costs are far in excess of that of maintaining a diesel locomotive.

So to say cars thru gas is subsidized by $16B and rail only at $1.4B is misleading at best. Rail is subsidized thru both programs due to the nature of Diesel engines in the US.

And the whole grouping of last points that it improves traffic, walkable cities, yadda yadda. If this was an urban or suburban state/ region I would agree with you. But it is VT, the second least populous state in the union. We don't need to worry about walkable cities, because, frankly, VT doesn't have any real cities. Burlington is smaller than some MA towns. And it is very walkable. Probably the most walkable city I have been to. Traffic in VT is nearly nonexistent relative to other regions. And while if this rail system existed it would be great, we would still need cars, or at least buses because everything is so spread out here. Where I live it would be an hour bike ride to get to any transit hub. Which to me is a much more costly waste of resources (my time) than 10k per year for my car by that article's estimate. Plus it is simply not feasible with children and families. At least not without a significant reduction in QoL.

These arguments are great for dense urban areas with dense suburban areas in between. Like in Europe, and US megalopolises like the northeast corridor (Boston to DC). For rail systems like this to have an impact on cars, you need layers of transit (buses, then trams, then trains). Layers that would far exceed in cost and personnel the benefit it provides to a population when there aren't enough people.

Granularity matters with science and engineering, and VT is not going to be impacted by transit systems in the same ways that urban areas are.


CorpusculantCortex t1_j6lkesj wrote

I mean, it is a nice idea, but let's be real VT fails to keep its roads in good condition, and when it comes to development nothing of consequence ever happens or at least never completes in a reasonable amount of time. Not high enough investment in the future, too much pushback from those who just want to maintain the VT they know.

And this? This would be billions in development costs, require thousands of rights of way agreements from as many people, and require the cooperation of dozens if not 100+ town governments. The largest city in the state can't even incentivize the completion of a commercial development project on prime real estate downtown after the demolition was already completed in... going on 6 years? A municipal project of this scale would never fly, VT is beautiful and I love so much about it, but it is a bit stagnant development-wise.


CorpusculantCortex t1_j6gwthy wrote

opened in the fridge 100%. Maple syrup is perishable and will grow mold under certain conditions. Plus added ick is if you have ANY insects, especially ants, you will find a lil crunch in your syrup if it is even slightly open (which with those fliptops can easily happen after about halfway through a bottle when it has crystallized on the opening a little).


CorpusculantCortex t1_j3mepzc wrote

While I don't believe VT is remotely perfect in this realm, I think the other thing to consider, given that vt and Wyoming are the top, is that the per capita measures always skew data when it comes to things like this. Places with low population density have higher per capita representation. There is the same amount of government officials per town, but if the town has 1/5th the people, well 2 corrupt officials equates to a 5x higher per capita corruption number. It is a misapprorpriation of data and stats done by poor scientists, or worse, untrained reporters who don't actually understand statistical science and therefore shouldn't utilize it. Per capita of the total population when looking at a discrete subpopulation (government workers) does not equalize the numbers, they are not intrinsically related because, well, the number of government officials in a given area is completely arbitrarily defined by people, and therefore not predictable by basic statistics.

So I don't think this article actually says anything, because states with high pop density (NY, CA) appear low corruption for the same reason. It is an uncontrolled bias in the data manipulation.

  • a data & information scientist