Railroad Makeovers

Warren Buffet’s on board. Should you ride the rails, too?

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Here’s a sign of the times: Since early last year, investor/economic prophet Warren Buffett has been putting his money into railroads. His firm, Berkshire Hathaway, now owns about 70 million shares of three major freight lines—2 million of Norfolk Southern, 4.5 million of Union Pacific, and a staggering 64 million of Burlington Northern Santa Fe—worth a combined total of almost $7 billion. Bill Gates is on board with an investment of $1.7 billion in the Canada National Railway Company. Why now? For starters, there’s the growing demand for oil alternatives like coal and grain, both of which are shipped on trains. Freight cars also use 65 percent less fuel than long-haul trucks. “It became clear to me the competitive dynamics in the railroad business had changed from when I last thought about them,” Buffett told cnbc last year.

Thanks to the cash influx, rails are getting a makeover. Union Pacific is spending billions to ease congestion on its busy Sunset Route from Los Angeles to El Paso with 760 miles of double tracks. The boom has yet to impact the passenger rail system, but all those miles of new track, which Amtrak shares, could mean improvements (read: fewer delays) are just around the bend.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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