Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Private investors will save high-speed rail in America. Right? Right? Anybody?

From Investors' Business Daily.  These are the guys who are supposed to bail out this $100 billion high-speed train with their clever and richly rewarding investments.  Let's see what they have to say about it.

You may be surprised to learn that they don't like it.  Not one bit.  Of course, they don't like Obama or any Democrat either. I'm not taking that personally.  We do agree about what they say about the train and how financially nonsensical it is.

It confirms what anti-high-speed rail lovers have been saying for some time.  There will be no private investors.  For the simple reason that it's a lousy investment.  It will be a money loser; that is, a deficit operation, like most passenger rail (including Amtrak) around the world.

I'm not talking about all rail.  There is profitable rail and that's freight.  And, speaking of investing, Warren Buffett bought and now owns the second largest freight rail company in American, BNSF.  Good call, Warren. 

Let me ask you, Warren, that if Amtrak was for sale, would you buy it?  I didn't think so.
Andrew Malcolm 
Political News & Commentary
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At $100 billion, Californians have 2d thoughts about high-cost, high-speed rail
Posted 11:08 AM ET

Let's face it: Our president, the one who had so many outstanding parking tickets when he was just Barack Obama, has rail envy.

Just judging from the number of times he's mentioned the high-speed rail system of China, which has one party rule so no problem with messy democracy stuff. Or bipartisanship, there being no bi- in Chinese politics, just uni-. Or the wonderfully modern airports that communist China has constructed that we should emulate with Obama's newest stimulus spending ideas.

Well, it seems many Americans are not as enamored of China's choo-choos as the president who spent much of his childhood living in Asia. Remember Florida's new Gov. Rick Scott? He took one look at Obama's $10 billion high-speed rail program and said, "It's going to cost way more and we can't afford it." Joe Biden made fun of him for not having any vision.

Well, now it's California's turn. Back in 2008 when "Hope and Change" wasn't a laugh line, California's notoriously silly voters went overwhelmingly for Obama and narrowly agreed to a $9 billion bond issue to build a high-speed rail line from San Francisco through the Central Valley to Los Angeles.

Because, who needs a car in the Golden state's spaghettine freeway system, right?

A lot has changed since that vote. "Hope and Change" became "Hopey Changey." The nation is drowning in debt. The state faced a $20 billion deficit. The country is gripped by economic uncertainty and fears with chronically high unemployment. Washington is dysfunctional and the opposite of high-speed. Obama's idea of balancing the budget is spending more. A majority of Americans fully expect more taxes no matter what lies emerge from either side these days.

Oh, and last month the California High Speed Rail Authority said new calculations indicated that the 10-year rail construction project was actually going to spill over into the next generation and take 20 years to complete. (Smile, if you don't believe the 20-year figure either.)

Actually, the authority now estimates completion around 2033, when a 95-year-old Jerry Brown will still be running for some elective office. 

And, by the way, the authority acknowledged, the $43 billion original construction cost was off a smidge too. Now that it has voter approval, before one shovel is ready for shoveling, the new projected high-speed rail cost is going to be closer to $100 billion. As in one-tenth of a trillion.

For now.

So, the famous Field Poll people (no connection to the cookie matron) went out and polled Californians. And, turns out, president isn't the only vote they have remorse over.

By nearly two-to-one (64-30), Californians would like the state legislature to put the rail bond issue to another vote, the survey found. 

And by a whopping 59-31 margin, they say they'd dump the expensive idea if they had a second chance.

By party, the new No vote breaks down as 73% of Republicans, 61% of independents and 49% of Democrats.

It's a moot point, however, since the Democratic governor and legislature would never risk losing that many union jobs.

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