In a post that actually isn’t about the “question marks swirling around high speed rail,” Eric Morris quotes approvingly a remark from Randal O’Toole, a big fan of trains and also a big critic of public subsidies for trains: “I don’t expect taxpayers to subsidize these preferences any more than if I liked hot-air balloons or midget submarines.”
In a way, the remark reflects my own attitude toward my libertarian impulses. I have libertarian attitudes and they certainly affect the way I see the world and what I think public policy should be more like. But when I approach a policy question, I can’t expect folks who don’t share my feelings to simply acquiesce without thinking for themselves. In fact, I think it a quite reasonable Hayekian position to want other people to think for themselves, otherwise that giant discovery process and information generating system comes crashing down. Seems just as true whether we’re talking about pencil making or public policy.
I suspect Morris will have something to say about those swirling high speed rail question marks in future posts on the Freakonomics blog.