As Steve Benen at The Maddow Blog rightfully noted this Wednesday, as we're seeing U.S. infrastructure crumble due to Republican intransigence, China continues to leave us in the dust: Jobs and innovation, leaving the station:
There's no reason the United States can't once again lead the world in transportation innovation, except for the political opposition that forces us further behind countries like China.
China began service Wednesday morning on the world's longest high-speed rail line, covering a distance in eight hours that is about equal to that from New York to Key West, Florida, or from London across Europe to Belgrade.
Bullet trains traveling 300 kilometers an hour, or 186 miles an hour, began regular service between Beijing and Guangzhou, the main metropolis in southeastern China. Older trains still in service on a parallel rail line take 21 hours; Amtrak trains from New York to Miami, a shorter distance, still take nearly 30 hours.
Completion of the Beijing-Guangzhou route is the latest sign that China has resumed rapid construction on one of the world's largest and most ambitious infrastructure projects, a network of four north-south routes and four east-west routes that span the country.
Keep in mind, this isn't just about bragging rights. China has invested heavily in transportation infrastructure, including this remarkable network of high-speed trains, and the result has greatly benefited the nation's economy and created "as many as 100,000" jobs.
China has also, incidentally, helped integrate regional economies, linking cities and provinces in new and efficient ways, which in turn is expected to strengthen China's manufacturing and exporting centers.
And then there's the U.S., where the Obama administration has repeatedly argued that high-speed rail boosts economic development, creates jobs, fosters innovation, relieves crowded roads, and even reduces emissions, and where Republicans say investing in infrastructure costs money -- and spending is, you know, bad.
Remember, GOP opposition to similar projects is so strong that in some instances, we've seen Republican governors -- including Florida's Rick Scott and Wisconsin's Scott Walker -- turn down high-speed-rail funds from Washington, just on principle, regardless of the economic benefits to their state.
What's more, while our international rivals take the lead in transportation innovation -- it's easy to win a race when your competitor stops trying -- we're still struggling to address cracks in our outdated infrastructure. Read on...