2nd trick op wrote: Private entrepreneurs are unwilling to commit large sums of capital to fixed assets because of the regrettable lack of respect shown them during the last era of faith in central planning,
Or, they build a line, it's successful, and Amtrak tries to push their way onto it, or the government builds a parallel line to compete with it. I suspect a lot of folks out there really DID pay attention to the history of the NYC subway, where success was rewarded by the city competing against you and running you out of business...
Also, look at the Texas TGV, FOX, etc. It's amazing any private firms even return phone calls to the government w.r.t. HSR - the states and feds have screwed them so many times over the years.
It's a wonder DessertXpress is getting anywhere, and I suspect it's only because for so long the feds have been totally unable to come up with ANYTHING along the route that made sense. And IMHO, they're looking to ultimately sell the line to Cali for a good profit, anyway - it's being design to be compatible with the Cali HSR (if that ever gets built - it's been a decade plus of hype now, hell, look at the Caltrain electrification...)
As for big cars / small cars, hey I wish Fiat lucky attempting to sell the 500 in the US, but honestly, unless it's Toyota reliable or better and the dealers aren't jerks, they've got no chance. Too many people remember Fiat's last few attempts at automobiles that were foisted on an unsuspecting public here, not to mention the parts availability. In this day and age "it's on the boat and we'll get it....eventually...." doesn't cut it when the car's in the shop. And selling low powered, low feature, low performance small cars in the US has always been a loser. Look how many Mini Cooper S's there are out there, vs the base model...Fiat's in for a rude awakening when they start selling stuff here. I given 'em 5 years, tops, before they go running back to Italy with their tail between their legs. US buyers demand 100,000+ trouble free miles, minimum, today.