Monday, January 30, 2012

The Peoples' Republic of California's Chairman Jerry Mao's Little Red Handbook on HIgh-Speed Rail

"We're not going to be a Third World country if I have anything to do with it," 

1. You have nothing to do with it, Governor. 

2. Whether California ever becomes a third world country or not has nothing to do with high-speed rail.

3. Hyperbole is standard in political rhetoric. Over-dramatization is necessary when there is no substance behind the statement.  The arrogance of power puts the first person singular at the heart of the action; that is, the Governor will personally prevent California from becoming central Africa. Thanks, Governor.

"This thing is going to be a lot less than some of the critics have said," "this will transform Central California."

1. Governor Brown's bag-man, Dan Richard, has set $117 billion for the HSR costs. Is he a liar or a fool, Governor Brown? You have called him so, by your claim which sharply contradicts his business plan. 

2. The Governor is right; this project will transform Central California, but not in a good way.  It will severely damage its productivity. Is that irrelevant to you for the sake of your grandiose vision, Governor?

"Just like Lincoln can built the transcontinental railroad during the Civil War ... you've got to think big," 

1. Thinking big and thinking smart are two different things.  With this HSR project, you have to choose, Governor. 

2. Governor, you are not Lincoln (and it's presumptuous to compare yourself with him), there is no Civil War, and we have outgrown/moved beyond our needs to open the Western frontier for business interests and for inter-city rail travel. That's why, even with record-breaking ridership, the numbers remain so fractional.


"It's not going to be $100 billion,"  "That's way off."

1. How do you know that Governor? 

2. What doe you mean by "way off?"  Ten billion dollars, fifty billion dollars? Where will you find the rest of it -- the part that you believe it will cost?

"Phase 1, I'm trying to redesign it in a way that in and of itself will be justified by the state investment,"  "We do have other sources of money: For example, cap-and-trade, which is this measure where you make people who produce greenhouse gasses pay certain fees - that will be a source of funding going forward for the high speed rail."

1. When you say  "I'm trying to redesign it. . ." what do you mean?  Are you using CAD/CAM technologies? Or is that just an arrogant rhetorical flourish?

2. How come no one else has mentioned cap-and-trade as a funding source? Has it been a well-kept secret? 

3. What would be the actual process for that to happen, Governor? Would you by-pass the legislative process?

4. How much do you suppose that will generate? Enough to pay for the train's construction? And if not, where will you get the rest of it?

"It's going to be a lot cheaper than people are saying."

1. "Cheaper" is not a word I would use in any way regarding this project.  To use that term reflects a profound ignorance of the dimensions of the economics of this project.

2. Who are those "people" stating those costs which you know to be less ("cheaper")?  Aren't they "your" people? And what is the basis for your claim? What do you know, Governor, that the rail authority, the expert peer review group, and all the opposers don't know?

"Further detail on specific program areas will be developed when there is more certainty of fees received from the Cap and Trade Program."

1. Governor, that's a conditional statement. Are you saying that there will be no further program-specific details without the certainty of cap-and-trade fees?

2. Does this mean that you will shut this program down -- inasmuch as it can't be developed without further program specifics -- if there is no certainty of fees from cap-and-trade?

3. Or, Governor, do you mean something entirely different than what you are saying here?

"It isn't all, you know, going to football games and buying clothes and cars and gasoline and all the things people want to do in their private life," Brown said. "We also have a public investment, and that's part of the balance of a civilization."

1. Now we get to the heart of the problem as you see it, Governor, with your moralizing about our decadent, self-indulgent lives. Are you suggesting that we have a moral obligation to invest in the public good, essential for the balance of a civilization?  With that, I agree.

2. But, then why are you pushing a luxury train for the affluent down our throats? Isn't HSR just another materialistic version of our wastefulness and extravagance?  Why should the rich get to go faster, paid for by the rest of us?

3. I'm hearing some hypocrisy here. Which is it, Governor, frugality and going slower, or lavish recklessness and going faster for more money?

"One way or the other, if we can't get it through the Legislature," "then there's always the initiative route at some point."

1. Is this a threat? Your point, if I read your words correctly, Governor, is that if the Legislature -- that represents the people of California -- won't indulge you in your determination to spend billions and billions of tax dollars that you don't have, you will be forced to pursue the ballot initiative? 

Because the ballot initiative is exactly what the high-speed rail authority wishes to avoid. The reason for that is that the people of California have changed their minds about this project and now reject it. Bring on your initiative, Governor!

2. Is it your wish to have the HSR project terminated by the people of California via the initiative process? Aren't you already going to the people by way of the initiative for tax increases, even as you intend to tie California to this high-speed economic anvil to throw overboard?

Let's face it, Governor, you have no substantive answers for any of these questions.  The reason for that is simple. Your goal is the FRA's promise of the $3.5 billion for California. You really have little interest in this project beyond that. 

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