Amtrak’s $16 burger

If the US oversees health care like it does trains, there’s trouble ahead

When is a hamburger not just a hamburger? When it costs Amtrak $16 to make. They sell it for $9.50, and taxpayers cover the difference — every time. Then it becomes a glaring symbol for spiraling costs, crippling deficits, and the inherent inefficiencies of big government.

Thirty years ago, the idea of Amtrak losing money on food sales was as outrageous as it is today. (Hungry customers on a moving train with nowhere else to go. How hard can it be?) In fact, it was so outrageous that Congress passed a law against it. The Amtrak Improvement Act of 1981 prohibits the government-owned company from selling food at a loss. Nice try. Today, Amtrak is selling more and losing more than ever before.

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