Monday, December 19, 2011

When it comes to high-speed rail, it's time to stand up and say you're sorry.

We were lied to.  The high-speed rail project in California was never intended to be what was described in the authorizing legislation.  The project continues be sold as a miracle cure for every problem facing America domestically.  

Some of us didn't buy this late-night Infomercial snake-oil from the very beginning. But even those who voted for the project now know how they were snookered into supporting it with false information. 

Wouldn't you think that even the most obtuse elected official would now acknowledge that supporting this project was a grievous error?  

Wouldn't you think that by admitting that they also were fooled by the rail authority and their croneys, and by the Unions who themselves continue to be grossly misled with jobs promises that will never materialize,  they would now stand up and say, sorry, we got it all wrong and now we're against it for all its deep flaws?  

They can't all be stupid; therefore they must be venal. That is, they see personal, career benefits in continuing support for these massive fund transfers, and don't give a damn about what actually does or doesn't get built.

It's sickening.

19 December, 2011

When the Facts Change, Some Minds Don’t
posted in News commentary, Transportation |

John Maynard Keynes is supposed to have said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” For many politicians including President Obama, the answer is, “I ignore the facts and stick to my preconceived notions.”

Back in 2008, California voters approved high-speed rail based on the promises that, at a cost of $43 billion, California would have trains by 2020 that would go from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two hours and forty minutes. Attracting 60 million riders a year, the trains would earn such great operational profits that private investors would provide $6.5 billion to $7.5 billion worth of capital funds.

Now the California High-Speed Rail Authority admits that cost will be more than double that amount, it will carry fewer passengers than expected, it won’t be done until 2030 at the earliest, and no private investors are interested in supporting a project based on phony premises. Moreover, the latest word is that the trains will take longer than two hours and forty minutes, which means they will be far less competitive with air travel than promised. So it is not surprising that most California voters want to reconsider the project.

But not the Obama administration. Even though Congress has not authorized or appropriated more than a tiny fraction of the funds needed to complete the California boondoggle, the Obama administration says it “is not going to flinch” on its support for the project. “The worst thing we could do is make obligations to folks and start to renege on our word.”

No, in fact, the worst thing you could do is agree to support a project that is highly questionable at the original price tag and continue to support that project when the price tag more than doubles. Why should taxpayers be obligated to support the California High-Speed Rail Authority when the Authority isn’t obligated to tell the truth about its project?

The administration made its statement at a hearing held by the House Transportation Committee, whose chair, Florida Representative John Mica, originally supported high-speed rail. But now, he says, the California project “is turning out to be a disaster.”

California Republican representatives in Congress also question the project. “The California high-speed rail project of today is vastly different from the one California voters narrowly approved in 2008,” says Representative Kevin McCarthy. “The California High-Speed Rail project has spun so drastically out of control even California voters are questioning its viability,” added Representative Jeff Denham.

High-speed rail, says Representative Devin Nunes, “is about corruption, public deception and bureaucratic experimentation.” He points out that the CEO of the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority gets paid more than Amtrak’s CEO and that the “authority has bankrolled a vast array of political consultants to curry favor with elected officials.” At least some people are willing to change their minds.

No comments: