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Wow, being compared to Thomas Friedman...that's really hitting below the belt.

It is hitting below the belt, but no doubt they meant it as a compliment.

"proscriptions for this new era of societal development"

Is that really what they meant or has the WSJ fired their editors?

Or the venerable "Where is my flying car?"

Score another point for the Bill Easterly camp on development.

It's for the best that "DotOrg" sticks to what it knows. And who could put Google Earth to better charitable use than Google?

Congrats on the puff!

I had the same thought about China's rail service when they were first building it. Much Chinese passenger rail is dominated by peasants doing standing-room-only trips home for Chinese new year (and this is why adult diapers are sold at Chinese train stations). But if they reduce the number of cheap trains, the peasants will take busses (which are now the cheapest long-distance transportation option) instead of paying a bunch more money for high-speed train tickets.

I'm not so sure I wouldn't have built a "slow-speed" freight-only network instead of HS rail if I was a Chinese god-emperor. Freight and long-distance hauling is a massive problem in China, particularly in its attempts to develop poor inland provinces.

#6:

High-speed rail tends to get its own optimized tracks and often even own stations, especially those optimized trains like the 京沪 one (Beijing-Shanghai) - no way to reach really high speeds at many of those old tracks.

6. The author makes sense. However, given that high-speed rails have been built, the solution is to have a lottery for the option to purchase high-speed rail tickets at the same price as old rail tickets. That would fill the empty seats until until China is rich enough for passengers to pay full price for them.

ok, I thought this comment was going to be original but...

apparently people already know what's up with Friedman. Tyler, I love this blog, but do you really want to publicize that you are an analog of TF? Have you seen this review?
http://www.nypress.com/article-11419-flathead.htm...

It's kind of spot on.

You people are missing the point of the Friedman comparison. Framing. As in differently from the other guy.

Could have been worse. They could have called you another Ezra.

Why would there be any empty seats? You would think Chinese High Speed Trains would learn the same tricks as the various Chinese Airlines (and every other airline). That is, you pack every available seat and simultaneously maximize net revenue through some kind of sophisticated differential price system where, depending on when and how you made your reservation, you could be sitting next to someone who paid half or twice what you paid.

At any rate, I think the article missed the essential point. Chinese rail-moved coal to double by 2020. There won't be any room at all for the old people-movers as the tracks will be coal all the way down. If you're going to move by rail, it's going to be high-speed or nothing. Meanwhile, all the slow-speed human carrier cars will be sold abroad, maybe to India or Africa.

It's fascinating to me that many people who identify as libertarians treat the right to pollute as a defining feature of their political philosophy.

Apparently the leaning part consists of wanting to legalize drugs.

If that's what 'leaning libertarian' means, I'd take that in a heart beat. I'd gladly be a single-issue voter on ending the drug war if there were viable politicians running on that platform. The war on drugs fills our jails, militarizes our police, threatens civil liberties, cripples the lives of millions of Americans with prison and criminal records, wastes untold billions of dollars, and corrupts and destroys developing countries (especially Mexico). The war on drugs is pure, unadulterated evil, and I'd happily bestow the label 'leans libertarian' on anyone who opposes it.

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