Saturday, February 11, 2012

When it comes to High-Speed Rail, the Unions are only fooling themselves

I'm always sorry when the high-speed rail discussion becomes centered around Union issues.  We know that the Unions have been aggressive promoters of high-speed rail in California. And, all this is not about the possibility of the Union members being able to ride the train if it's ever completed.  They couldn't afford to.

This is about the claims that HSR will create zillions of jobs.  That argument has already been put to rest as fraudulent, but the Unions, at least their management, are being paid to look like they are supporting job creation and HSR is being spoon-fed by Washington to the Unions as a major job opportunity.  Either nobody is being fooled by this false affirmation, or both sides, the Democrats and the Unions, are mindlessly permitting themselves to buy into this "jobs" fantasy.

So, now the Unions are a major source of blame, accused of promoting what is, in fact a dreadful, wasteful and stupid project that will benefit, not the Unions or their membership, but the corporations, consultants and construction companies that will be doing business with a government project; these frequently cornucopias of bottomless federal dollars. Just ask the Defense Department. 

HSR is the very essence of "waste, fraud, and abuse," a major crime that the Inspectors General of all federal Departments ferret out.  That is especially the case with this project in California, and the DOT IG has been negligent in doing it's duty to call this project for what it really is; fraudulent.

What is so astounding is how egregiously flawed this project is, and how indifferent to those flaws the Democratic Party is. The taxpayers are, of course the victims of this crime. That means, all of us in California.  

I don't have to explain how education is getting screwed in this state due to the relentless budget cutting, while, at the same time, the Governor seeks to raise taxes which will, obviously, be directed to bail out the HSR project by burning up potential 'general obligation' bond funds.

Look. Supporting this project is no mere error of judgement.  No one in Sacramento remains uninformed about the malfeasance of the rail authority and it's arrogant and flagrant flaunting of the laws. No one is ignorant of the stupendous costs this project will impose on tax payers, state and national.  No one doubts that these vast and essential funds do not exist and may never materialize. 

Nonetheless, the reckless Governor and his Legislative supporters know no bounds to their callous disregard for the realities of this project in their determination to appease their Union campaign supporters and the vested interests that support the project for their own financial benefit. 

As I say, this is not about the Unions. It's about a Governor and Legislature that know better but ignore the facts for the sake of grasping at the $3.3 billion ARRA Stimulus funds awarded to California if they start to dig up a route in the Central Valley.

Few will be employed to do this.  The existing available funds will be flushed down the proverbial toilet. Many people in the Central Valley will be made to suffer. 

And, there will never be a $200 billion train built in California, a luxury train that no one can afford and the state certainly doesn't need. 

February 11, 2012

Californians Getting Railroaded

Katy Grimes

Regardless of cost, the Obama Administration is behind California’s plan to build a High-Speed Rail system, according to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
“Despite a series of a cautionary reports by outside agencies and groups, the Obama administration is reaffirming its commitment to California’s $98.5-billion bullet train project,” the Los Angeles Times reported on LaHood’s visit to California this week. “Over the past week, I have traveled all over the Golden State and have found a strong base of support for the California High-Speed Rail project, from workers who will build it, manufacturers that will supply the trains to run on it and businesses that will benefit from using it,” LaHood said.

Despite being to stop “wasting” federal high-speed rail money on California by members of Congress in December, LaHood stands firm on his blind support of the project. Members told LaHood about California’s high-speed rail’s skyrocketing costs, delayed construction issues, and flawed passenger estimates.

Of course the union employees who will build a High-Speed Rail system, and the manufacturers that will supply the trains support it. Duh.

As is typical with government officials in this era of big government, they are deaf to taxpayer concerns and interests, as well as the “series of cautionary reports” warning that the $98.6 billion cost will bankrupt the state, and the HSR business plan is bogus.

Instead, a beefed-up radio campaign has hit the airways, paid for by the California Alliance for Jobs, which claims to be a non-profit organization “that promotes responsible investment in public infrastructure to help build a secure future for all Californians.” Take a look at their IRS 990 forms. They admit that they exist for the “enhancement and development of unionized construction work in the Northern California area.”

This non-profit group employs a lobbyist or two, a lobbying firm, spent $525,000 on lobbying in 2009, and contributes to political campaigns.

Comedian Will Durst narrates the radio ads. The ads are obnoxious and offensive. “There will always be skeptics,” Durst states in the ad, referring to High-Speed Rail “naysayers.” “Heck, some people would vote against sunshine and hugs.” Read the transcript of the ad.

“It’s time to do the right thing. Put people to work now and build something momentous for our future,” Durst says.
If High-Speed rail had merit, was needed, or supported by voters, we could accomplish this with non-union labor, and save a tremendous amount of money in the meantime. But it has no merit, is not needed, and voters would shut it down if a vote was taken today, a Field Poll reported.

As I constantly remind people, there are still more non-union voters in California.

FEB. 10, 2012

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