Spending records don’t equal speed records.
Don’t tell that to President Joe Biden, mind you. He seems convinced his new, $2.3 trillion “infrastructure” plan will give every man, woman, nonbinary person, child and theyby in the United States a self-driving electric car that can take them anywhere in minutes using so little power you could do it on an AA battery. Oh, and the car’ll have free internet 50 times quicker than anything you can get today.
That’s not infrastructure? Well, don’t worry — the Biden administration is spending billions to tear down “racist” highways that were built through black neighborhoods, most over a half-century ago, all in the name of equity. Not only do you get those self-driving electric cars, you can drive them on equitable freeways that helped solve bigotry, too! And, um, I suppose they’ll be building some roads and bridges and stuff with the 6 percent that’s left over. (Seriously, that’s the figure.)
If you think this is hyperbole, consider this non-hyperbole from Biden during his remarks last week, in which he proposed trains that could cross the country as quickly as a plane and a plane that could traverse the world as quickly as Superman.
“When we stop investing in research, we stop investing in the jobs of the future, and we give up leading the world. And when we do invest in research, what we’re really doing is raising the bar on what we can imagine,” Biden said Wednesday, according to a White House transcript.
“Imagine a world where you and your family can travel coast to coast without a single tank of gas, or in a high-speed train, close to as fast as you can go across the country in a plane. Imagine your children growing up to work in innovation, good-paying jobs in fields that haven’t even been invented yet, like the parents of every computer programmer, every graphic designer, every renewable energy worker once did — imagined.”
Anyway, we’ll get to why this train is absurd later, but to continue with Biden:
“I tell the kids — the young people who work for me and to all my kids — when I go on college campuses, they’re going to see more change in the next 10 years than we’ve seen in the last 50 years,” Biden said.
“We’re going to talk about commercial aircraft flying at subsonic speeds — supersonic speeds. Be able to, figuratively, if you may — if we decided to do it, traverse the world in about an hour, travel 21,000 miles an hour. So much is changing.”
Yeah. Not that much is changing, Joe.
I’d assume you know this is ludicrous on face, but I think we need to go through why Biden’s Aldous Huxley trip is so farcical. There’s a debate over what the world’s fastest manned plane is, the North American X-15 or the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.
While the X-15 is technically faster, being able to achieve speeds of over Mach 5, according to CNN — that’s five times the speed of sound — the 1950s-era experimental plane was little more than a manned rocket that could be dropped from a B-52 for experimental purposes.
The practicality of that is limited, to say the least, which leaves us with the SR-71 reconnaissance plane, the fastest jet on Earth. An SR-71 reached a speed of 2,193.2 mph in 1976, according to CNN. That’s Mach 2.8.
17 September 1959. First powered flight of the North American X-15 No.566671, American rocket-powered aircraft/spaceplane. Pilot: Scott Crossfield. pic.twitter.com/lp508W8Vzy
— Ron Eisele (@ron_eisele) September 16, 2020
Just how many anti-aircraft missiles missed the SR-71 Blackbird over the course of its life? https://t.co/FKCZmpD1nn
— National Interest (@TheNatlInterest) April 11, 2021
The X-15 held one person, the SR-71 two.
But soon enoughy, Biden says we’ll have a plane capable of going 21,000 mph (about Mach 27) with a full load of passengers — provided, of course, we spend enough money.
As Jim Geraghty pointed out in a piece at National Review, going faster than the SR-71 did — almost 10 times faster — would present serious issues beyond engine technology. When it was on the ground, the Blackbird would leak fuel all over the runway because its titanium panels had to be designed to expand to well beyond their normal size due to the heat generated at Mach 2.8. It wasn’t until it was in the sky and at cruising speed that the body would fit together and stop the leaks.
You can imagine the other problem with Biden’s plan if you think hard enough about the SR-71 leaking fuel all over the runway. For a plan that puts so much emphasis on green jobs, the only successful supersonic airliner to enter full service, the Aérospatiale/BAC Concorde, was a carbon hog of epic proportions. (Oh, and there’s also the problem regarding the noise they make.)
“The fuel costs would often exceed the revenue from the passengers — and flying on the Concorde was not cheap! — and supersonic flight over U.S. land is currently banned because the sonic booms can break windows,” Geraghty noted.
The fact is, given the current state of technology and the immutable laws of physics, what Biden is predicting would take something even beyond that.
As for the train, don’t count on that either.
Commercial airliners fly at between 550 and 580 mph, Geraghty noted, whereas Japan’s L0 Series Maglev train has only hit speeds of 374 mph. According to Travel & Leisure, when it becomes operational in 2027, it’ll be limited to 310 mph. This, of course, assumes no stops and a mostly straight track from coast-to-coast.
It would also be a tempting target for terrorists, particularly since derailing something at ground level is a lot easier than nailing a target 30,000 feet up.
In other words, President Biden has no idea what your money can buy us or is betting on the fact that, as he sells his not-really-infrastructure infrastructure plan, you’ll have no idea what your money can buy us.
Which is worse? You tell me. Just don’t imagine getting many roads or bridges for your $2.3 trillion.
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