Friday, December 2, 2011

Where are all those High-Speed Rail riders supposed to line up to get on the train?

Do this article have anything to do with the California high-speed train?  Yes, everything!

There is a shrinking California population, not a growing one.  Read this article.  Needless to say, no one in California wants to admit that. It's bad for business. It's bad for housing prices (You don't have to tell me!!).  And, it's bad for high-speed rail.

The HSR guys want us to believe that mobs are storming the gates of California, trying to crash in and get all those available, high-paying jobs.  Therefore, we better build a high-speed train for them so that they can get between San Francisco and Los Angeles much faster without having to fly or drive.  How many new jobs are there, do you suppose, that require someone to go, daily or several times a week, between San Francisco and Los Angeles.  I would venture to guess, not that many.

Is it necessary to repeat that the economy in this state really stinks; that both the state debt and the deficit are at an all time high; there there are no jobs and that unemployment is record high; and, worst of all, that this won't turn around, if ever, for a very, very, long, long, time.

There will be no California population explosion.  It costs too much to live here.  There aren't enough jobs here.  Our unemployment rate is already at a record high.  What more do you need to know?  If high-speed rail is proposed to be necessary for this projected population increase, we can shut this puppy down right now, without further discussion! 

Now, this article springs from the head of Conservative Republicans who like to blame California's misery on various government imposed regulations such as the California Environmental Quality Act which has been providing some -- but not much -- accountability to the high-speed rail project.  And, tragically, that's where their argument disintegrates into dust.  

But, I'm not going to get into political discussions that do nothing but distract us from the central issue; that the high-speed rail argument cannot rely on population growth in California for its justification. Because it's just not there.

NEW: California Dream is no more

DEC. 2, 2011

The California Dream is no more.

In 2010, according to Census figures, the proportion of us who moved here from other states was the lowest in a century. That’s because, for the past six years or so, more folks have moved out of California than in.

The state’s population flight has been attributed to the recent, precipitous downturn in the state economy. That suggests that people will start flocking to California again when the economy fully recovers.

But California experienced previous economic downturns without the accompanying out-migration that is currently underway. That suggests a long-term, if not permanent, demographic trend.

The reality is that, for the first time in more than 160 years – since news of gold brought more than 300,000 fortune seekers to the state from not only the rest of the country, but also from abroad – California is no longer perceived as the Golden State.

People are not leaving their home states or native countries in pursuit of the California Dream – a good job, a nice home, decent schools.

Those magnets are still here in the nation’s most populous state, but are not nearly as attainable here as they were in, say, the 1950s and 1960s, when half of California residents had migrated from outside the state.

Indeed, California’s current unemployment rate is 11.7 percent, higher than 48 of the other 49 states.

Housing prices throughout the state have fallen dramatically in recent years, yet they remain “hyper-expensive,” as Time magazine recently reported. In fact, practically every one of the state’s major metropolitan areas ranks among the nation’s least affordable housing markets.

Then there are the state’s public schools. On the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress, which tested four- and eighth-graders on reading and math, California was worst than all but four states and jurisdictions.

Now if these and other barometers of the state’s quality of life, of the well being of the average California resident, were only temporarily negative, there would be no cause for inordinate concern.

We could buy into all those cheerful commercials – funded by the state’s taxpayers, featuring celebrity types like Kim Kardashian, Betty White and the Jonas Brothers  – telling us how wonderful it is to live, work and do business in California.
But that’s just a faded dream. Our state has been in decline for decades, a pernicious result of one-party control of the state Legislature.

That one party – Democrat – driven by liberal ideology has enshrined in state law labor mandates that have made it more expensive to maintain a workforce in California than in practically any other state in the country.

They have imposed land use restrictions – through regulations, like the California Environmental Quality Act, and government bodies, like the California Coastal Commission – that have exponentially inflated the cost of land throughout the state and, in turn, made it more costly both to build and purchase housing than any in other state.

And they have turned over the state’s public school system to the all-too-powerful California Teachers Association, which opposes any and all efforts to rid the system of failing schools and low-performing teachers – no matter the harm done to the state’s school children.

It may or may not be too late for our once-Golden State to restore the luster it once had, which motivated millions of us to leave the states, the nations where we once lived to make our residence in California.

But it’s hard to envision that happening given past and present politics in Sacramento.

–Joseph Perkins

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