3 Cheers for Jimmy Carter, the Great Deregulator!


Despite his post-presidential career as one of the most pompous noodges on the planet, Reason has never been shy about praising Jimmy Carter for his role in deregulating airline ticket pricing and interstate trucking (and beer!). Over at AOL News, B. Kelly Eakin and Mark E. Meitzen remind us of a third  transportation-related deregulation success that Carter pushed:

Thirty years ago this fall, President Jimmy Carter signed into law the Staggers Rail Act, stripping away a century of freight railroad regulation. The signing was accompanied by lofty proclamations: "By stripping away needless and costly regulation in favor of marketplace forces wherever possible, this act will help assure a strong and healthy future for our nation's railroads," the president's signing statement promised. "Consumers can be assured of improved railroads delivering their goods with dispatch."…

Consumers saw the payoff almost immediately. By 1982, rail rates had started a steady decline that, in real dollars, continued through 2004. Today, real rail rates average about two-thirds what they were in 1980. The railroads' financial condition stabilized. And the railroad industry's productivity has increased at triple the rate of the airline and trucking industries, as well as of the broader private sector.

More here.

Sadly, and despite many allusions to Obama as the Second Coming of The Man From Plains, our current president is not talking much about deregulating anything. And when it comes to trains, he's pushing one of the dumbest ideas possible: high-speed rail.

NEXT: Obama's "Rickety and One-Sided Trade Policy"

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  1. But choo-choo trains are so cool! They define us as individuals. We can get on one and go anywhere we want at any time. Every good statist should have choo-choo trains in their playbook.

  2. I would gladly swap Obama for Carter.

    President Carter, that is, not the drooling imbecile he has become.

  3. Uh, deregulation is something Bush did, and it caused the Greater Depression. (Don’t ask for specifics.)

    We’ll just see how dumb having high speed rail is when right after they start to dig a chunnel to connect it to Europe. Think big!

    1. I want a bridge to Hawaii so I can drive there.

        1. High speed wind-powered monorail bridge to Hawaii!

        2. Mono=One

        3. That’s more of a SHELBYVILLE idea…

  4. Why was beer an afterthought? Thats the lead (or lede for those in the unable to spell industry).

    1. It was an afterthought because it was clearly Billy’s idea.

    2. I want to strangle everyone who uses ‘lede’ and while we are in a strangling mode, let’s line up the ‘meme’ users

  5. But the jobs. Thousands and thousands of jobs lost in the railroad industry since then. We need to go back to 100 mile per day limits on crews, featherbedding, high maintenance steam locomotives, and Jawn Henry-era strong back track maintainers. High paying jobs for middle class blue collar guys and gals. Of course, you consumers may not like what that would do to prices of commodities, like power plant coal or orange juice, hauled by the railroads. But what the heck, the created jobs are highly visible and politicians can brag about them, while the lost jobs are invisible (just more fallout from the failed Bush free market, deregulation policies.)

    1. My God, that was just beautifully said….

      *wipes tears from eyes, reminisces about the “good old days” of railroading*

      1. “the good old days of railroading*

        You mean, when the railroads bought politicians by the boxcar load and told the ICC how they wanted to be regulated?

        1. I thought he was talking about when they grabbed Irishmen right off the boat and drafted them into the Army.

  6. The accompanying photo, with alt-text, is devastating.

  7. Don’t even bring up high speed rail. The liberal idiots pushing this boondoggle have no fucking problem lying to the unwashed masses about up front costs, ridership, maintenance and operating expenses.

    At a different forum I read an urban planner that we all know and mock assert that the demographics of the Great Lakes States are so similar to to AMTRAK’s northeast corridor that passenger rail connecting the major cities in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin will be profitable.

    Of course we just need a shitload of federal dollars to start it up and the people will then flock to the Columbus to Cleveland route.

    I think he was serious.

    1. It probably would be true on 7 saturdays in the fall.

      The other 358 days however….

      1. To be perfectly honest, if they built it and my only option was to get on at Lodi (I live in Akron – it’s a 25 minute drive), I’d still do it to go to Buckeye and Crew games all summer long, and I’d probably start hitting OSU basketball in the winter, something I don’t do now.

        But I know it would be a financial disaster.

        1. I’d still do it to go to Buckeye and Crew games all summer long, and I’d probably start hitting OSU basketball in the winter, something I don’t do now.

          But I know it would be a financial disaster.

          Watch out, Jacob Sullum will call you a hypocrite for using government services that you oppose, think are a bad idea, and would vote against.

      2. Hey, there might be some Sundays that would work too, in the other direction.

    2. I’ve been having the same argument on (of all things) a soccer site. There’s a long-running thread there discussing the “3C” dream. No obnoxious urban planners, though. Just run-of-the-mill lefty statists and national greatness types.

      1. my dream is 3 ball soccer.

  8. High speed rail is just liberals showing their euroenvy.

  9. High speed rail has been mentioned.

    Cue Tony in 3…2…1…

  10. The governor-elect in Ohio apparently has already killed teh high-speed rail proposal here. So I still don’t hate the guy. But there’s plenty of time.

    1. The New York Times commenters are dumbfounded that Republicans are happier to shift the high speed rail money from the less densely populated states to the NorthEast corridor.

      Lots of predictions about how this will cause an amazing influx of jobs to the Northeast (and California), and that California and the Northeast will “continue” to have great economies that bailout all those terrible economies in the South, Midwest, and Texas.

      The only problem with John Mica’s (generally reasonable) plan is that it’ll take ten years just to do an EIS so that they could figure out where and how to upgrade the NEC.

      1. Considering how wealthy the Washington, DC area has gotten in the past decade while places around the country like Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo were falling apart, maybe more cities should try to emulate the key features of what Washington did right.

        1. But Buffalo already *has* a Metro system! Seriously, they do, and it’s an utter waste of money. That’s the joys of Cargo Cult spending that ignores cause and effect.

        2. Wealth transfer from the productive states used to pay $150k annually for paper MCSEs?

        3. Yes, if only Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo could declare themselves federal capitals and rapidly expand their power by force of law.

      2. need to emulate the chinese…no environment no EIS…they just bulldoze what ever is in the way of the rail bed… but the mag lev is a hell of a ride (430 KM/hr, at least that’s what the crawler said) for all of 7 minutes.

  11. If passenger service were deregulated (that is, if AMTRAK were taken out behind the barn and beaten to death with a rusty shovel), somebody *might* be able to devise a workable business plan. With Amtrak out there, fucking up the market, never.

    1. You’re traveling through another dimension — a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land where a government provided airline is the only way for a citizen to fly. That’s a signpost up ahead: your next stop: the Twilight Zone!

      1. I’d never thought of it that way before, but “Aeroflot on Wheels” describes Amtrak quite nicely.

        1. Make that “Aeroflot on Rails”, and I think we have us a meme.

          1. Aeroflot on Rails. Carve it in stone.

      2. There’s….something on the caboose!

  12. But high-speed rail will make just as enlightened as Europe!

    1. as if our recto-cranial inversion were not bad enough…

  13. maybe more cities should try to emulate the key features of what Washington did right.

    Wait- you want Cleveland to secede, form an army, and collect taxes at gunpoint?

  14. Is that a still from “Jizz In My Pants” video?

  15. For the last time (I hope), Carter DID NOT “deregulate” beer!!!!

  16. Bilderberger influenceTO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT?..TO ALL THE COMMUNIST IN THE IG,FBI,CIA,AND U.S. Senators and the left wing media outlets?..Wake up america!!!! This goverment is the most corrupt we have had in years. The good old boy network is very much in charge.Mr. obama and pelosi are the puppet masters.How many of their good friends benefited by the agreement ” what a farce. All of the u.sSenators voted for this. I am ashamed to say I voted for the these corupted self serving politicians.With good reason they picked an out of towner to be president.All u.s departments need an overhaul. We need to rid ourselves of the puppet masters and the dept heads that bow down to obama and pelosi.I am sick of the lip service I have been getting from these dummies over violations, their friends are getting away the goverment . Barack Hussein Obama , threatens friends and bows to Mmslim.
    INPEACH OBAMA ,GOD OPEN YOUR EYES.///For us there are only two possiblities: either we remain american or we come under the thumb of the communist Mmslim Barack Hussein OBAMA. This latter must not occur.//////// I love communist obama.will you ,thank you,the aka red ink obama.//////// Repost this if you agree, IS communist obama ONE , Because of its secrecy and refusal to issue news releases, the Bilderberg group is frequently accused of political conspiracies. This outlook has been popular on both extremes of the ideological spectrum, even if they disagree on what the group wants to do. Left-wingers accuse the Bilderberg group of conspiring to impose capitalist domination,[21] while some right-wing groups such as the John Birch Society have accused the group of conspiring to impose a world government and planned economy.Obama’s India trip really an Emergency Bilderberger Meeting ?THE COMMADER //////// .Is Barack Obama pushing forward dangerous policies that are bringing the United States closer to a socialist dictatorship. Are you even aware?

    2. What is the major proof of the Bilderberger influence over many of the world events in the last decade!

    3. Is it really true that the recent global financial collapse was engineered by the Bilderberg Group. Why was their 2010 annual meeting held in Greece?
    4. Bilderberger influence,president George W. Bush says he was “blindsided” by the financial crisis that shadowed his final months in office, but adds that the Democratic-controlled Congress shares some of the blame. –

    Now that the agenda for global government and a centralized world economic system is public and out in the open, the importance of the Bilderberg Group’s annual conference rests on grooming political candidates. The lion’s share of Bilderberg’s 2010 agenda has already been announced by its members weeks before ? it will revolve around a potential military strike on Iran as well as the future collapse of the euro.The Bilderberger group, whose policies would pave the way for global communist conquest.

    —– Bilderberg group in United States——-
    George W. Ball (1954, 1993),[13] Under Secretary of State 1961-1968, Ambassador to U.N. 1968
    Sandy Berger (1999),[14] National Security Advisor, 1997?2001
    Timothy Geithner(2009),[15] Treasury Secretary
    Lee H. Hamilton (1997),[1] former US Congressman
    Christian Herter,[16] (1961, 1963, 1964, 1966), 53rd United States Secretary of State
    Charles Douglas Jackson (1957, 1958, 1960),[17] Special Assistant to the President
    Joseph E. Johnson[18] (1954), President Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
    Henry Kissinger[19] (1957, 1964, 1966, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1977, 2008),[20] 56th United States Secretary of State
    Colin Powell (1997),[1] 65th United States Secretary of State
    Lawrence Summers,[15] Director of the National Economic Council
    Paul Volcker,[15] Chair of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board and Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1979?1987
    Roger Altman (2009),[15] Deputy Treasury Secretary from 1993?1994, Founder and Chairman of Evercore Partners
    [edit] Presidents
    Bill Clinton (1991),[21][22] President 1993-2001
    Gerald Ford (1964, 1966),[4][23] President 1974-1977
    [edit] Senators
    John Edwards (2004),[24][25] Senator from North Carolina 1999-2005
    Chuck Hagel (1999, 2000),[26] Senator from Nebraska 1997-2009
    Sam Nunn (1996, 1997),[1] Senator from Georgia 1972-1997
    [edit] Governors
    Rick Perry (2007),[27] Governor of Texas 2000-current
    Mark Sanford (2008),[28] Governor of South Carolina , the United States closer to a socialist dictatorship. Are you even aware? === The Bilderberg Group, Bilderberg conference, or Bilderberg Club is an annual, unofficial, invitation-only conference of around 130 guests, most of whom are people of influence in the fields of politics, banking, business, the military and media. The conferences are closed to the public.== The Bilderberg Group in which he accuses them of manipulating the public “to install a world government that knows no borders and is not accountable to anyone but its own self.”

    Repost this if you agree, THE END OF AMERICA.

    1. Commander. It’s not your fault.

      Look at me son. It’s not your fault.

      It’s not your fault.

  17. It was the zeigeist of the age. Friedman had appeared triumphant, the Soviets knees were weakening, Thatcherism was winning the day across the pond. The zeigeist now is…what the fuck is the zeitgeist now?

  18. Imagine the government rationed food, and assigned each citizen one day each week in which they could go grocery shopping. Sound idiotic?

    Because that’s exactly what the “great deregulator” did with gasoline. I still remember wasting large parts of my childhood in 10-block-long lines on Tuesdays because that was our turn. (So I should thank Carter for my libertarian leanings.)

    Carter also
    – imposed the national 55-MPH speed limit
    – created the Dept. of Energy
    – created the Dept. of Education
    – pushed the first automaker bailout (Chrysler)
    – pushed the Superfund law that turned the EPA into the monster it is today
    – unsuccessfully pushed for national health care (Ted Kennedy torpedoed the bill to challenge Carter in the 1980 primary)

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