Senator Amy Klobuchar Bessler¹ (D-MN) is no moderate, even though she wants voters to believe that she isn’t quite as wild-eyed crazy as Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (S-VT). Her proposals to fight global warming climate change don’t sound quite as radical, until you delve into them. Mrs Bessler’s proposals include:

Revitalize freight and passenger rail. Railroads are an energy- and cost-effective way for producers to bring their goods to market and get people where they need to go.

Except, of course, the railroads only deliver from railroad station to railroad station, not door-to-door. Unless you have a facility which has its own rail siding, you still have to use a truck to take your goods to the railroad station, and then your customer has to use a truck to fetch his goods from the railroad station to his facility. That’s two extra times having to handle product, increasing labor costs.

I’m guessing that I’m one of the few who has had actual experience with receiving product by rail. At two different concrete plants, we had rail sidings to receive cement by railcar. Railcars carry about 100 tons of cement, while getting cement delivered by truck means 25 to 27 tons per load.

Thing is, when I would order a railcar of cement from the plant in Roanoke, Virginia, to be delivered to my plants in Hampton and Norfolk, it would take a few days for the cars to make it to the rail terminals in Newport News and Norfolk, and then we had to wait on the railroad to find the time, at their convenience, not ours, to deliver the cars to our sidings.

Then, after the railcars were delivered to the sidings, we had to move the cars into position — really fun when you have to push a railcar with a front end loader — and then pump the cement from the cars into the silos on the plant. The one in Hampton wasn’t too bad, though it was a pain in the ass, and I have had to fix discharge valves on more cars than I care to count. But in Norfolk, because the siding was so far from the plant, we were having to pump cement a quarter of a mile through underground pipes, underneath I-264, then under a parking lot, and it required a 600 horsepower electric motor to do that. That siding had a dedicated employee to do nothing but run and maintain the siding and pumping station.

Eventually we gave up on cement by rail, when a trucking company made the bid to deliver cement by truck, including pumping it into our silos, more cheaply than we could get it by rail.

Freight by rail has greatly diminished because it is less efficient and more expensive for most goods. Mrs Bessler’s proposal would, if implemented, raise prices for consumer goods, making Americans poorer in real terms.
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¹ – Though Mrs Bessler has not shown enough respect for her husband to have taken his name, I will not show the same disrespect for him; I always refer to married women by their appropriate honorifics and names.
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