President Joseph Biden’s latest goal after the COVID-19 relief bill is infrastructure. This package, if passed, would cost approximately $2 trillion dollars. One of the big efforts in the bill is funding for a project that Biden has been invested in since his time as Vice President: high-speed rail. The package contains approximately $205 billion in funding for a nationwide high-speed rail project, primarily going to state contractors rather than federal. Even though high-speed rail has many benefits, projected routes for the railway raise some major ethical issues here and there.
Firstly, high-speed rail is comparable to the highway system we have in the United States. It is intended to connect peoples and communities from throughout the country. For the most part if you are willing to drive long and far enough, you can get from any major American city from any other. Some of the drawbacks of this are that the price of this travel is entirely on the consumer. Citizens must first have access to a car. Then, they have to provide all the extraneous costs of car ownership. After those things are satisfied, consumers must be able to afford the necessary gas for the trip. Then, there is lodging, and the bill keeps moving up and up and up. There are some who say that those who can’t afford to travel don’t get to. Biden’s infrastructure plan would aim to at least aid lower income citizens who may not have the necessary financial power to travel to metropolitan areas. Travel between communities allows for the free exchange of the market and can revitalize a downturned economy. It also allows people to expose themselves to more diverse ideas than the ideas and people presented in their insular town.
Biden’s plan does have some issues, however. The first (but not most important) issue deals with the way the funding is distributed. The barrier to high-speed rail in the past has been paying for railway and deciding which states receive any profit from the rail when these rails cross state lines. This is what killed the project when it was originally proposed. The funding would be better served staying in the hands of federal contracts so that the inner workings and financial dealings can be handled with less mess. This will assure the project actually comes to fruition this time.
The second issue with Biden’s plan is that projected routes for the railway appear to cross right through sacred Native American reservations or otherwise traditional homelands. This obviously creates a problem as the Native American community is some of the most tread on minority in the modern United States. For most of the country’s history, their sovereignty has been not only ignored, it’s been desecrated. It is important for the United States government to begin making the atrocities of the past right and that starts with not making an active plan that would cause the further displacement of already displaced peoples like Native Americans.