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Thread: You Didn't Build That, Big Fed Built That...And it's a Stone Loser, Baby!

  1. #1

    Default You Didn't Build That, Big Fed Built That...And it's a Stone Loser, Baby!

    I got yer cheeseburger right here. For you, only $9.50 and be thankful you get it. That's the Amtrak cheeseburger, of course. I bet it's wonderful. OK, maybe not wonderful, prolly adequate. OK, OK, it's prolly awful but, but, but IT COST AMTRAK $16.25 TO PUT IT ON YOUR PLATE. That $2 Pepsi, assuming it's still in the can, is going to be just as good as the stationary Pepsi and Amtrak only costs it out at $3.40.

    Don't worry. They lose a little on every sale but they make it up in volume.

    Read it and weep:

    Amtrak takes flak over food service losses
    10:20 pm August 2, 2012, by Jamie Dupree

    A day after publicly pressing the General Services Administration over its travel and conference spending, a House panel turned its focus on Amtrak, charging that the national rail service regularly loses millions each year on its food service for passengers and has done little to rein in those costs.

    "They've lost $833 million over the last ten years serving food and beverages," said Rep. John Mica (R-FL), who labeled those numbers "staggering."

    “We have to end these unbelievable losses to the taxpayers," Mica added.

    At a hearing, Mica went over the simple tally of how much you pay for food, and how much it really costs the taxpayer.

    “It costs passengers $9.50 to buy a cheeseburger on Amtrak, but the cost to taxpayers is $16.15," said Mica. "Riders pay $2.00 for a Pepsi, but each of these sodas costs the U.S. Treasury $3.40."

    To some on the panel like Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), whose family is in the restaurant business, the figures were hard to swallow.

    "Obviously the business model here is not working," said Barletta, who joined the grumbling over why Amtrak can't just recover their costs on food and beverage service aboard trains.

    Barletta made clear that technically, Amtrak is breaking the law, because Congress approved a plan many years ago that said the railroad must at least break even on food and beverage service.

    The President of Amtrak, Joseph Boardman, told lawmakers that Amtrak has been improving its financial results in recent years; in 2011, he said the railroad recovered 59% of its food and beverage costs, as he rejected the idea of ending such sales on trains.

    "If we were to eliminate food and beverage service, we would actually lose more money, because of the loss of associated ticket revenue," said Boardman.


    The same argument was made by the head of the rail authority that runs Amtrak trains between Boston and Portland, Maine - their food and beverage revnue per passenger was $1.09 last year, but the expenses of providing that service $1.47.

    That line had food and beverage service losses last year of almost $200,000.

    As for numbers like that, the Inspector General at Amtrak told the same hearing that plans to improve the bottom line on food and beverage service aren't enough - that reforms are needed behind the scenes in terms of management.

    "Two departments share reponsibility for food and beverage service," said Inspector General Ted Alves, "but neither is accountable for improving service and/or reducting direct operating losses - let alone eliminating them."

    Some in Congress want to get Amtrak out of the food and beverage service entirely, and have it contracted to an outside group which might be more vigilant when it comes to the bottom line.

    That drew a rebuke from an Amtrak employee who testified at the hearing.

    "Why are some members of Congress promoting the elimination of good middle class jobs with decent pay and benefits?" asked Dwayne Bateman, who has been working for Amtrak since 1977 and is Vice General Chairman of a union that represents train service workers.

    The issue of Amtrak's losses on food and beverage service aren't new. In 2005, a General Accountability Office report found that Amtrak food and beverage expenses were $487 million from 2002-2004, while revenues were about $243 million - a loss of almost a quarter of a million dollars in three years, about what the average is today.

    Reviews by the Inspector General have found internal problems with crime, which also contribute to losses when employees provide items at no cost, steal inventory, short the cash register, or sell non-Amtrak items.
    Remember, you .. you didn't build that.

    Now read that bolded passage again. They'd lose more if they stopped trying to lose money on food. Ain't centralized government grand?
    My sig has run afoul of the tiny scolds again, proving the truth of it.
    (What is the smallest quanta of exercisable power on the internet?)

    Any excuse will serve a tyrant. - Aesop . . . . . . . SHRUG

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  3. Default

    Thank God private industry built Hoover Dam and the interstate highway system.

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by head of joaquin View Post
    Thank God private industry built Hoover Dam and the interstate highway system.
    Yeah, and the power grid. And most municipal water systems. And our military. And our National Guard. And the NOAA weather prediction infrastructure. And our public colleges. And most fire departments. And......
    -----------------------

  5. #4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by head of joaquin View Post
    Thank God private industry built Hoover Dam and the interstate highway system.
    How much is a cheeseburger at the dam?

    Got anything in the last 50 years?
    My sig has run afoul of the tiny scolds again, proving the truth of it.
    (What is the smallest quanta of exercisable power on the internet?)

    Any excuse will serve a tyrant. - Aesop . . . . . . . SHRUG

  6. Default

    The power grid was built by private industry.
    ObamaTax Delendum Est

  7. #6

    Default

    Yea and they build the Golden Gate Bridge! Oh wait, no they was against the Golden Gate Bridge, dang stupid federal government. The Federal Government build the electrical grid? No that wasn't them either? The Interstate was a rather good idea but wasn't that build mainly by the States in actual construction??? Federal Government does some things good, but most things esp those that involve a Service they seem to be at best, failures at. There is no reason to have Amtrak anymore if they ever was a good reason to have it. There isn't no need for most of the Federal Government exercises and programs which is the main talking point.

  8. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by head of joaquin View Post
    Thank God private industry built Hoover Dam and the interstate highway system.
    And the Roman Empire built the Appian Way and the Colosseum....so what?
    What has Rome done lately and when was the last time you saw the massive federal government run a project like Amtrak properly? Time to stop deflecting and start admitting that a "business" that loses $83 million dollars per year, just on foods and drinks alone, is a very poorly run venture indeed! That's government for you!

    Time to stop resting on your laurels so you can spew out disingenuous political b.s.!
    Last edited by Yosh Shmenge; Aug 03 2012 at 07:38 PM.
    Who do you call for when the government itself is the enemy of America?

  9. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Kingofwow View Post
    Federal Government does some things good, but most things esp those that involve a Service they seem to be at best, failures at.
    And even those done well are done with stunning inefficiency.

    Real life anecdote:

    My son, CPT Smith USAF, has been sent to college under ROTC and then grad school while commissioned. I'd guess that DOD has spent a quarter million dollars on my son over the last 5 years. He worked productively for two years out of that five and not because he's a slacker. He's currently in an engineering contingent of two dozen that will likely not have any productive work sent their way for the next 6 months. He's going crazy out of boredom. There are literally no options for him to turn his office time into something significantly productive. He's able to publish the occasional article but that doesn't put better fighters on to the flight line.

    And this might be the best of Big Fed.
    My sig has run afoul of the tiny scolds again, proving the truth of it.
    (What is the smallest quanta of exercisable power on the internet?)

    Any excuse will serve a tyrant. - Aesop . . . . . . . SHRUG

  10. #9
    usa us illinois
    Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America
    Posts: 10,823

    Default

    The public sector is ABSOLUTELY awful at running business.

    How can the large central government people see this, and still support giving more and more control and power to the fed?

    Unreal.
    My Favorite Quotes (unmitigated truths)

    "When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic." -Unknown
    "Government is a disease masquerading as its own cure." -Robert LeFevre
    "The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants." -Albert Camus

  11. #10
    usa us illinois
    Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America
    Posts: 10,823

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by head of joaquin View Post
    Thank God private industry built Hoover Dam and the interstate highway system.
    They did actually.

    Do you think the government bought all the equipment and hired all of the crews directly to build those?

    No. They procured professional services including attorneys to procure the land, they hired design professionals to design the structure, and they hired contractors to build them. All the government did was collect the money and reinvest it in infrastructure. Even after the systems were built, they hired somebody else to manage them. (the States for the highways and private company for the dam)

    Trying to compare those two infrastructure upgrades with the continual yearly losses that tax payers are responsible for because the government is trying to OPERATE Amtrack is a perfect example of why relative fallacies fail.

    Try sticking to the OP so we can attempt to have a logical discussion.
    My Favorite Quotes (unmitigated truths)

    "When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic." -Unknown
    "Government is a disease masquerading as its own cure." -Robert LeFevre
    "The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants." -Albert Camus

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