Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Maglev trains are awesome



by Cylinsier

Remember that massive stimulus bill that a lot of people are saying isn't working? Unlike malcontents (Republicans) in this country who like to cry in their caviar about everything since last November, I've been trying to keep up with why the stimulus hasn't saved us yet. The main reason is not because it "blows ass," as Mitch McConnell no doubt claims behind closed doors, nor is it because the legislation is "commie horseshit," another imagined but probably accurate quote, this time from John Boehner. Its because a lot of it hasn't been spent. So, I've become curious about what this money sitting around is going to be used for in the future, and one of the most exciting projects is maglev rails!

The one pictured above is in Shanghai. They've had them in Japan for ages too, kind of like how they've had cell phones and computers and giant fucking robots for years. I haven't been to Japan recently (or ever), but if history is any indication, the whole country probably floats a few miles above the surface of the earth and runs on cold fusion at this point. Hopefully they'll share flying cars and teleportation with us soon, but in the mean time, maglev is where its at.

So what is maglev? Its a train. On magnets. So it floats. Basic physics should already be telling you the potential benefits. The trains are far more efficient and faster due to the lack of surface to surface friction since the trains don't touch anything (but do still compete with air drag). Whereas a normal train maxes out at about 100 mph, maglevs hit around 300 mph. The ones in Japan can go over 500 mph. They are pretty quiet and there is potential for environmental improvements over traditional rail and other modes of transport (depending on what is used to generate the electricity needed to generate the magnetic field as well as to propel the train).

Train travel in general is pretty nice in my opinion. Better than air travel and that's not just because I hate flying. There compartment typically has more space. Security and baggage handling is easier, at least for the time being. Wait times are shorter. But the big drawback has always been time; traditional rail is just too slow. But maglevs can compete with airline travel for time efficiency. A direct rail line from New York to Chicago, for example, with maglev technology might be faster than a flight if wait times for airport delays, security and possible layovers are taken into account.

The budget for maglevs is $8 billion from the stimulus package. That's a lot of jobs for construction. And the technology is proven in other countries already; there are countless people who hate the hassle of air travel but can't take the time to go by rail that would be instant customers when this mode of transport becomes available. Its really a situation where everybody wins. I for one am looking forward to having this travel alternative available to me for trips in the future.

For those interested, current areas under consideration for maglev construction are LA, Seattle, Vegas, DC, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Atlanta. For the most part, these are localized projects and not part of any plan to link these cities to each other (with the exception of Baltimore and DC, where travel between the two cities would be part of the plan). Also, the stimulus money is being potentially allocated to Pittsburgh for their maglev project, but I do not know if any of the other projects will receive stimulus funding. Actual cross country maglev travel is still quite a ways off. But I'm still looking forward to the day I can sit on a fast quiet train that'll get me from Pittsburgh to DC in two hours or less! Sphere: Related Content

20 comments:

Wesley said...

In the 90’s, Japan was the poster child for Keynesian economic stimulus. After massive government infrastructure projects, where they built fantastic new roads, bridges, waterworks, and airports their net government debt rose as a share of the economy from 15 percent in 1990 to 60 percent in 2000. They call it Japan’s lost decade.

Our experience in the US with Keynesian policy is just as shitty. We ran a budget deficit in 2008 of $459 billion, or 3.2 percent of GDP, up from a deficit of 1.2 percent of GDP in 2007. This 2 percent GDP increase was a powerful dose of Keynesian stimulus and yet the recession took off like batshit. As usual, an outright policy of Keynesian stimulus tubed.

The CBO says that the U.S. government is expected to run a deficit of $1.8 trillion in 2009, or 13 percent of GDP. We are talking a whopping $1.4 trillion of Keynesian stimufuck--nearly 10 percent of GDP. Despite BO’s enormous douche of deficit spending, the CBO and others project the real economy to decline in 2009. The numbers don’t lie. Either these forecasters think the economy would have contracted by 11 percent or more in 2008 without the stimulus, or they believe the throbbing Keynesian stimufuck will be as ineffective in 2009 as more modest Keynsian hot beef injection was in 2008.

The CBO projects that for 2010 a deficit of $1.4 trillion under BO’s budget, a decline of $393 billion, or 2.7 percent of GDP. Using Keynesian theory, the deficit needs to rise a bit to have a neutral effect on the economy in the short run. A drop in the deficit of 2.7 percent of GDP using this theory will cause an enormous contraction. Keynesiafags should be in panic about the economy's immediate future. Most forecasters, including the CBO, are drone like in ignoring this ghost contraction pressure in their own economic forecast. Apparently, forecasters outside the political realm do not believe in Keynesian theory, either.

Keynesian stimulus theory fails for the basic reason that it is only a half-assed theory. It is right when it describes how deficit spending can raise the level of demand in part of the economy, but it ignores how government borrowing to finance deficit spending automatically reduces demand everywhere else. In a modern economy supported by a modern financial system, blame relieving allusions to idle saving simply are economic punch bowl turds that won’t float. Deficit spending doesn’t create ant actual purchasing power and so it can’t increase the total demand in the economy. Deficit spending only shifts the pattern of demand toward government-centric wishes.
There is no simple, single answer to any policy question, and Keynesian stimulus examples are no exception. However, using a modern macroeconomic model and treating monetary policy carefully, Keynesian stimulus's short-term effects lie somewhere in the butt crack range between slim to none. Keynesian stimulus produces debt, not jobs.

Cylinsier said...

Unless you're using "Keynesian economic stimulus" as a euphemism for maglev trains, I don't know why you posted this comment here.

Ondinita said...

I think Wesley does have a thing for you, Cy...hehe Anywho...I want maglev trains in Atlanta! Our public transportation sucks & traffic is unbearable!!!

Wesley said...

Cyschmuck...your whole first paragraph was about the stimulus. Remember? I take it back, popping bubble wrap is more fun than this.

Cylinsier said...

Yeah, but the post had nothing to with the stimulus. It was mentioned in passing really...and as a fun excuse to take a few shots at a few repubs. The point of the post was that maglev technology is something to be excited about.

Why did you choose the name Wesley out of curiosity?

Anonymous said...

Republican's may call it lost. Which isn't surprising, since conservatives were loosing most battles in Japan in the 90's. The rest of us call it progress.

Keynesian economics is widely accepted as our way out of the Great Depression. Which conservatives (then and now) forgot how we got into and apparently believe ended by shear chance.

The thing about Keynesian economics is that it IS the compromise between socialism and laissez-faire capitalism. If you don't like it, you should be out there trying to get more votes instead of spending all your time on inconsequential blogs. Cause politically you're outnumbered.

Ellipses said...

Inconsequential?

C'mon now. :-)

Wesley said...

Keynsian Economics is not widely known for getting us out of the depression. It was World War II that brought us out of the depression.

Wesley said...

Cy...if Wesley "WANTED" you to know I would tell you.

Ellipses said...

Well, we are involved in two wars right now... so I guess war isn't working...

Also, what is a war except for HUGE amounts of government spending? Really, you wouldn't need the whole war part of it to be successful... you could just ramp up production of tanks and planes and then go dump them in the ocean. Then you'd have all the increased manufacturing without all the dead kids.

Wesley said...

Read Gallup and Weep Assopotomus. It looke like you are liberals are outnumbered by moderates and conservatives by 75% to 21%.


PRINCETON, NJ -- Thus far in 2009, 40% of Americans interviewed in national Gallup Poll surveys describe their political views as conservative, 35% as moderate, and 21% as liberal. This represents a slight increase for conservatism in the U.S. since 2008, returning it to a level last seen in 2004. The 21% calling themselves liberal is in line with findings throughout this decade, but is up from the 1990s.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/120857/Conservatives-Single-Largest-Ideological-Group.aspx

Ellipses said...

And how are those stats different from, say 10 months ago?

Everyone says they are moderate...

Hell, I'd say I was moderate to conservative before saying I'm liberal...

Wesley said...

We are not in a World War Eliptodunce. In a WW the entire economy is dedicated to the war effort...Rosey the Riveter, Victory Gardens, Rationing, the whol nine yards etc. The comparison is not even close.

Ellipses said...

So you'd advocate starting a world war?

You seem to be setting up a scenario you can't win...

You are either for global thermonuclear war...

Or you are for a never ending economic malaise...

Which is it, sparky? :-)

Wesley said...

Etard I am not advocating a WW and I am against Keynsian Economics. So what's that leave Ediculous? Lower taxes, cut spending, it works every time. let people keep their hard earned money and it ALWAYS increases revenue. ALWAYS.

Ellipses said...

Another great gospel truth of the right... lower taxes ALWAYS generates higher revenues...

Yes, the two are correlated... but whether there is a causal relationship is vague at best... for example...

Why don't we set the top tax bracket to 1% ?

By your reasoning, our economy would EXPLODE and we'd have TONS of revenue flowing into the treasury...

I mean right now, we have a war (ok, not a world war... though Michael Savage would disagree) AND we have Bush's tax rates... and we are STILL in a recession...

So... let's cut taxes further... there isn't any reason to believe that 8 years later we won't be in a recession again... then we can cut taxes again... and again... and... well, it's like wal mart... if they are always rolling back prices, why ain't shit free yet?

Wesley said...

Tax cuts did not cause the recession. Liberal insistence that we lend people money to buy houses that could not afford them and the crash of the housing market caused the recession.

scott said...

Boy, either Wesley's just stupid or he's mired in a right wing falsehood there. What brought about the mortgage crises was the bundling of mortgages into mortgage-backed securities which were sold over & over. The investment banks didn't have to fear losing their initial investments in the unsustainable ponzi scheme - their investments were insured with AIG.

Anonymous said...

And they were able to do this (at least in part) because of weak government regulation of the market... It's kind of like how weak government regulation of health care has resulted in insurance execs getting rich while insured americans are bankrupted by a bad case of the flu...

scott said...

Let's also not forget which of the two main US political parties has doggedly pushed over the past twenty years or so for the effective castration of government regulatory bodies.