Saturday, March 12, 2011

How the press operates with High-Speed Rail: A bad example

Reuters printed this pro-HSR article by Andy Kunz without telling the reader who Andy Kunz is.  The credit line at the bottom of the article says: "Reprinted with permission from Yale Environment 360."  That's not good enough.   

This is who he is: 

Andy Kunz
President, U.S. High Speed Rail Association
Related Link:

Biography provided by participant:
Andy Kunz is the President US High Speed Rail Association (USHSR) whose ambitious vision for sustainable transportation in America includes a 17,000-mile national high-speed rail network built in phases and slated for completion by 2030. Kunz holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree and a Master of Architecture in Town Design from the University of Miami. A national award-winning urban designer, Kunz is a sought after speaker at international, national conferences and national radio shows on the topics of sustainable transportation and urban planning.

Why is this important?  Reuters had every obligation to tell the reader where the pro-HSR bias was coming from in this article.  And, because Andy is among those who accuse all the opponents of high-speed rail to be politically and ideologically motivated.  

Actually, as we are seeing over and over, it's the rail advocates, promoters and managers themselves who are ideologically driven; or to be more accurate, driven by politics and money. 

If advocates for HSR want to spend money -- all from the taxpayers, and lots of it -- then the burden of proof is on them to justify this.  So far, all we've heard from them are platitudes, do-gooding political correctness, mis- and dis-information and overblown marketing hype. The truth is very hard to come by.

People who don't want to spend taxpayer dollars, even though there is no inherent requirement to justify not spending, nonetheless are producing empirical data that disproves the advocates' many claims.  

In other words, those who oppose HSR on financial grounds have taken great pains (without support from any sponsors) to demonstrate the fallacies embedded in high-speed rail advocacy language. (See William Grindley papers as examples)

In order to operate (including their fancy, professional web site),  Kunz's US High Speed Rail Association, must be receiving support from somewhere.  Their web site does not offer any clues that I could find accounting for their financial support or sources.  So, we will have to improvise.

Check this web site and as you scroll through it you will see a large number of corporate and political interests, some or many of whom are highly likely to provide political and financial support for USHSR. In other words, USHSR is a trade organization that represents the financial interests of corporations eager to contract with politicians that control HSR funding for their states.
They include not only attendees, but presenters.

Previous conference attendees include executives from:

Balfour Beatty
Parsons Brinckerhoff
KCI Technologies
U.S.-Japan High Speed Rail
Central Japan Railway
Japan Int'l Transport Institute
CRCC (China)
TSDI (China)
CSR (China)
NDF (China)
TUC Rail
Hyundai Rotem
Foster + Partners Architects
Dover Kohl
Urban Land Institute
Bentley Systems
SMI International
First Southwest Investment Bank
Hill & Knowlton
Global-5 Communications
Shaw Group
CA. HSR Authority
DLA Piper
Holland & Knight
Parker Poe
Lockheed Martin
Northrop Grumman
Alion Science & Tech.
BAE Systems
Invensys Rail
Finley Engineering
Mc Dean
Archer Western
NKT Cables
Wilbur Smith