Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Governor Moonbeam High-Speed Rail

Not so long ago, I was given the reason why our Governor, Jerry Brown, was called "Governor Moonbeam" during his first tenure as governor in California (1974-1978 ).  Apparently he attempted to install a State Space Academy, with the goal of launching a State Satellite for the purpose of collecting and distributing state related data to all the state offices.

This never happened of course, but the label given him by a journalist, stuck.  And today, he's still called Governor Moonbeam on occasion.  Why is this important?

The very idea of launching a satellite in the '70s by a single state is incredible.  The costs are staggeringly high, as anyone familiar with the history of NASA can tell you. It's not only the cost of the launch and orbital injection itself, but the vast and super expensive amount of preparation and support required to make that possible.

Please note how the North Koreans attempted to do this recently with an unlimited budget, and failed dramatically.  The point here is how out of touch with reality this Governor was, and still is.

The costs for such a satellite would have bankrupted the state. The governor had no notion of the costs, or the cost-benefit ratios of such a plan.  Even then, there were far more "down to earth" ways of collecting and transmitting information, but he chose to ignore those for their lack of drama. He was in the self-promoting image business, not governance. Isn't that also the case today?

I make this point because things haven't changed one iota. The Governor, now in his second term, is again willfully pursuing an agenda with stunningly high costs about which he has shown total disregard. He claims they are not as high as the rail authority itself has posted.  Therefore, to meet his contention, the rail authority simply cut out a lot of construction that would be essential to complete the high-speed rail project as charged by the legislation.  That, of course, lowered the cost, but therefore also makes it impossible to complete the project.

Obviously, knowing all this, the Governor still doesn't give a damn.  His real reason for pursuing this project is predicated on the fact that the FRA has awarded California $3.3 billion in free federal dollars. The purpose is to initiate the construction of the high-speed rail project as described in the legislation (Proposition 1A and AB3034). But, it is now clear that this will never happen due to the unavailability of a huge portion of the funding required to build this most expensive infrastructure project in the history of the US.

Nonetheless, Governor Moonbeam is off on another dramatic, iconic project that won't get built due to its insane costs, and therefore ignores anything as realistic as a serious cost-benefit analysis.

All this may not constitute the basis for a recall, but it certainly warrants far more serious consideration in realistic terms by the Legislature.

Must every Democrat in Sacramento be a blind fool? Isn't one enough?

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