Bailing Out Tourist Attractions That Fail To Attract Tourists - Texas Scorecard

Why must the taxpayers be on the hook to pay for the indulgences of the politically connected? A case in point is the alleged tourist attraction known as the “Texas State Railroad” running between Palestine and Rusk. I say alleged because it doesn’t attract enough tourists to keep it afloat. No worries, lawmakers just force you to pay for a service none of us apparently want to use.

The “railroad” is an “historic” old train that does a little choo-choo circuit. I grew up in Texas, spent all my life traveling the various towns and cities as the son of a high school football coach, and we spent our summers all over the state. And I’d never heard of the “Texas State Railroad” until they started raising a fuss recently about not getting enough cash to stay open.

Like any bureaucracy, its advocates refuse to acknowledge two realities. First, their past existence does not require future existence. Second, if they cannot find support in the real world for their service, then that is indicative of the fact that their service is no longer needed or desired.

But like any organism threatened with death, bureaucracies whither and fight. They whine about being victims of politics.

Okay, whatever. But the fact remains that if there was a demand to ride in a run-down old train, the roads to Palestine and Rusk would be bumper-to-bumper with traffic, sold-out seats for months in advance, and a private market willing to buy it or replicate it.

Instead we find a bureaucracy that relies on elected officials to yank cash from your wallet so that can be spent doing what they’ve always done: exist for the sake of existing.

While there are no doubt fans of the railroad who enjoy the subsidy of you paying for their indulgence, your right to keep your entertainment dollar morally trumps their claim to have it confiscated for their enjoyment.