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Three Brothers Set Out to Explore High-Speed Rail at a Walker's Pace

Three brothers are walking the length of California's high-speed rail tracks to spark a public discussion about land-use and the urban-rural divide.

California's high-speed rail line will eventually transport people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in less than three hours, saving travelers the hassle of flying and the six-hour schlep up or down I-5. But does urbanites' desire to move from point A to B as quickly as possible overshadow the communities in between? A trio of brothers—whose family has owned land for more than 100 years in a rural community through which the trains will pass—are traveling the entire length of the future tracks by foot to find out.

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The Upside of the Debt Debacle: Taking the "Long View" Seriously

The debt crisis was nothing but political theater, but wouldn't it be great if more issues got the "think of your grandchildren" treatment?


Throughout the excruciating debt negotiations, there has been a particularly loud cry from conservatives to "think of our grandchildren." Countless politicians, most of whom will be dead by the time the debt limit creates a real fiscal crisis, are set on dealing with a problem that might materialize in 2070. But as GOOD pointed out a few days ago, the debt deal didn't actually address our long-term problems at all.

Even though this forward-looking view has been little more than political theater, there's an opportunity to apply it to thorny problems that could seriously use a long-term plan of attack from lawmakers. In a recent and all-too-rare moment of government foresight, the Department of Health and Human Services decided to make birth control free under the new health care law. It's a move that won't just save money in the long term, but also could help the world's overpopulation problem. Here are a few more issues that could benefit if politicians took the long view:

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Q&A: Mad Men's Vincent Kartheiser on High-Speed Rail

Vincent Kartheiser is finally buying a car—but he'd rather not have to. We talk with the Mad Men star about the merits of mass transit.


When I called Vincent Kartheiser on Wednesday to talk about mass transit and high-speed rail, he had literally just been in a fender bender. The irony was not lost on Kartheiser, who reprised his role as the smarmy ad guy Pete Campbell from Mad Men for a clever Funny or Die video this week to support U.S. PIRG's high-speed rail campaign.

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How to Sell High-Speed Rail, Mad Men Style

Watch the Mad Men geniuses of marketing brainstorm ways to sell America on high-speed rail.

It's totally perplexing, but high-speed rail has become a controversial issue in American politics. Governors like Florida's Rick Scott have been turning away federal rail funds for purely ideological reasons, ignoring the evidence from around the world that such investment in infrastructure pays huge economic and social dividends.

Like so many good ideas, high-speed rail needs better messaging. Leave it to the brainy manipulators of Mad Men to come up with ways to better sell high-speed rail to Americans. In this Funny or Die short, set in a Madison Avenue office in 1965, watch the mad men brainstorm a high-speed rail campaign.

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"Amtrak Joe" Biden Reveals High-Speed Rail Plans

It's a $53 billion investment over the next six years. The ultimate goal: Giving 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years.


Yesterday, "Amtrak Joe" Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took to Philadelphia's historic 30th Street Station to reveal the administration's new, refined plans for America's high-speed rail. In short, President Obama is calling for a $53 billion investment over the next six years—including $8 billion next year—with the ultimate goal of giving 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years. (This comes on top of the $10.5 billion already devoted to HSR—$8 billion of Recovery Act funds and $2.5 billion from the 2010 budget.)

We've long pined for the rapid build-out of a HSR network, and this announcement is a good sign that the administration isn't backing off some bold earlier claims. Even more encouraging is this language from the White House press release that followed Biden's announcement (emphasis mine):

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