Amtrak Proves It Again: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.

Amtrak has just announced the creation of a kind of  “writer in residence” program . . . essentially providing free travel on Amtrak trains to writers who will then do what it is we do: write.

More to the point, they will write about their experiences on their rail journeys and Amtrak will benefit from the free publicity. Since it was announced, the program has been enthusiastically received by – well – by almost everyone. 

There are at least two exceptions: United States senators Jeff Flake from Arizona and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, two elected officials who get all squirrely at the mention of Amtrak because Amtrak is – Oh, the horror! – subsidized!  

These two Republican senators, self-appointed defenders of conservative values, have indignantly demanded to know why our money-losing national passenger rail system is giving away space on trains that they say could otherwise be producing much-needed revenue.

Uh … well … gee, isn’t it obvious? Amtrak is doing it to generate publicity, which will induce more people to buy tickets on Amtrak trains.

And, by the way, the writers will be traveling in unsold space, so there is virtually no cost to Amtrak.  I thought that would have been obvious to even the most …

Oh, wait! I keep forgetting: politicians like Coburn and Flake bash Amtrak because it gets their names in the media and because it panders to their ignorant and uninformed constituents … and those folks think Coburn and Flake are just swell.

But, senators, as for the rest of us, you embarrass yourselves.