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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about bullet trains in the US, purchasing guns to prevent crime, and the legalization of gay marriage in Iowa.

April 15, 2009

Should the US invest in bullet trains?

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Regarding the April 13 editorial, "A ticket to US bullet trains": This editorial points out only two of the necessary criteria for a successful US bullet train: requiring separation of cargo and freight rail lines, and focusing the $8 billion in stimulus money on a few (or even just one) project. There are other, equally important requirements, such as the elimination of grade crossings (which has proven marvelously successful, and safe, in Japan's system) and the need to spend as much up front as possible in order to reduce operation and maintenance costs to affordable levels.

If we try to build high-speed rail systems on the cheap, we are going to have very expensive failures.

Dave Huntsman

This is an example of what some of us fear most from the Obama administration – a know-it-all government spending untold billions to impose its vision on a recalcitrant country.

Bullet trains work well in densely populated Europe and Japan, but make no sense in the US outside the Boston-New York-Washington corridor. Elsewhere, on short hauls, getting to and from the stations will eliminate any time advantage of even the fastest train. On long hauls, people will prefer to fly.

There is no shame in buying from Europe or Japan to meet our limited need for fast trains. We have plenty of more worthwhile projects to spend our billions on.

Eric Klieber

Spending over $45 billion dollars for bullet trains running north to south in California seems pretty extreme. Even though it will help travelers save time and cut carbon emissions, investing that much money into transportation is a waste. Some of that money should go toward the economy and other important problems. Should America be spending this much money on just transportation?

Jennifer Jue
Los Altos, Calif.

More guns will cause, not prevent, crime

In regard to the April 13 article, "Armed America: Behind a broadening run on guns": It seems to me that civilians who buy more guns out of fear of a rise in crime are contributing to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sometimes a spark is enough to set a whole society ablaze.

Some might think it is a good investment, but in the long run a saturated gun market must end in gun fire.

Erni van Wingerden
Kathmandu, Nepal

Should gay marriage be decided on in the courts or by vote?