We talk about green jobs. Building wind mills, installing solar panels, and all that jazz. But how about something even more down-to-earth, something that's been proven to work in history and something that other countries have already implemented with great success?
I'm talking about trains. Not the "chugga chugga choo choo" kinds of yesteryear, but ultra-aerodynamic, ultra-fast trains like France's TGV (stands for train à grande vitesse, literally train of big speed), that can clock up to 357 mph on a good day.
Not only could a national train system create thousands upon thousands of new jobs, but it would also be extremely environmentally-friendly. If you live in Madison, WI, and wanted to visit family down in Chicago, then instead of taking the 3+ hour car trip (and using that much gas), you can take the ultimate form of public transport - cheap, consistent, and safe.
Above is the map of all of France's trains. As you can see, it virtually connects to every part of France so a citizen in any part of the country doesn't have to travel to reach the nearest stop. It also goes to neighboring countries like Italy and Switzerland.
If we had a web of railroads, going through every single state and leading to a midwestern city near the middle of the country (Lincoln, Topeka, maybe even Chicago or St. Louis), think of the economic prosperity it could bring. Paying $100 to go from LA to New York as opposed to $500 sounds pretty nice, right? It would do wonders for tourism and commerce in general. Traveling not just across the country but maybe from one part of your state to the next becomes easier, cheaper, and safer. And you stay on the ground the whole time.
EDIT: Instead of having a giant train system inefficiently and expensively going through the entire country, we should have multiple train systems going through neighboring population centers, like the Midwest, West Coast, East Coast, Southwest, etcetera.
It would do wonders for lowering gas prices and lowering the prices for goods in general (no more huge shipping costs, because there would be trains on this system that could be solely for shipping goods).
And a lot of the jobs caused by the original project (which, in theory, could be done in less than 10 years if enough people work on it) would stay on, because of needed repairs, conductors, train staff, etcetera.
I'm sure this has been discussed before, but I think that this could really do wonders to help our faltering economy, in a sort of New Deal-esque "get out there and work" way. It would also do wonders for bringing our country together, when it's much easier and quicker to go from place to place in our nation.
EDIT: Like a man should be able to, I'm molding my idea based on the great reception you guys have given me. I'm drawn to the conclusion that having multiple regional train systems is the best way.