Monday, September 4, 2017

Baby Boomers are Killing Railroads

Last week Penn Central, the largest railroad company in the United States, declared bankruptcy after only two years in operation following the merger of long-time rivals Pennsylvania and New York Central. This bankruptcy has sent a ripple through the economy and forced investors to take a hard look at their railroad holdings as numerous other companies have reported financial difficulties. To many it seems that the railroad, long a stalwart of the American economy, is in danger of disappearing.

But what is to blame for the failure of railroads? Many economists have pondered why a company as large as the Penn Central, which continued to pay dividends despite poor earnings, would fail as completely as it did. Some cite issues such as poor railroad management, competition from federally subsidized highways and airports, and increasing costs in both labor and infrastructure. Farmers in Maine especially blame Penn Central's poor handling of last year's potato harvest which resulted in entire shipments of potatoes getting lost and rotting en route to market. However many are laying the blame for Penn Central and other railroads' difficulties squarely at the doorstep of the up and coming generation of Baby Boomers.

''The problem with Baby Boomers is they want everything right now,'' a Penn Central representative said. ''Many Baby Boomers simply don't appreciate that we're willing to take the time necessary to make sure they get where they're going safely. In some places our track has deteriorated so badly we can only travel fifteen miles an hour over it or the train will derail. For whatever reason, Baby Boomers simply aren't willing to accept that.''

Prominent sociologists agree with this assessment. ''Baby Boomers simply value the speed of air travel or the convenience of car travel over the frustrations associated with rail travel. As a generation, Baby Boomers are more interested in getting the best service possible for the best price possible, rather than supporting traditional industries like railroads.'' 

Railroads are only the latest of industries that Baby Boomers are responsible for killing, with radio, big band music, and propeller driven aircraft being other prominent casualties of the Baby Boomer onslaught. 

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