Friday, May 4, 2012

When it comes to High-Speed Rail, they can't hear us.

Grandchildren visiting are taking priority over blogging.  Until end of the week, there will be less activity on this blog.

Yet, reading the daily papers re-affirms a saying of which I am fond, coined by the American writer Upton Sinclair: 

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

What that means for us is that there really is no point in trying to convince anyone related to the CHSRA or the Democratic Party in California that what they believe, or say they believe, is incorrect.

The facts and realities of this high-speed rail project are totally irrelevant.  Yes, this project is terrible and in so many ways that the list becomes book-length. 

That's what William Gindley and Mark Powell and Ken Orski and Wendell Cox, the CC-HSR and the CARRD groups,  and the LA Times and the Sacramento Bee, and even the New York Times and the Washington Post have been trying to tell us. Nonetheless, the people who make decisions, the Democrats, cannot hear them.  

Democratic Party elected officials, starting with Governor Jerry Brown, depend upon Union campaign funding, today more than ever. 

The Construction Union's rank-and-file have a greater unemployment rate than most other Unions.  Furthermore, Unions are under heavy fire from the Republicans in many states and are fighting for their very existence.  

That puts the burden on the Democratic Party regulars to offer as much support as possible. And that's where their support comes from. It assures their jobs.  It's like their salaries.

For reasons of their own, since those are not congruent with the truth or reality, these Unions believe that federal and state funding for the construction of this high-speed rail project will provide zillions of permanent, wonderful, well-paying jobs.  At least, that's their mantra for those unemployed.

(I'm pro-Union, by the way, but what is going on is the striking of very bad bargains. All those promised jobs will not magically appear.)

The Governor is eager/desperate for those $3.5 billion in federal funding to come to California and will continue to promote the HSR project that is the basis for obtaining those funds. His salary depends on it, so to speak. 

The same is true for all the other Democrats in the Legislature, many of whom are determined to obtain some of those funds for their Districts. 

Needless to say, Chairman Dan Richard has personal ambitions, including financial ones, of his own as he represents the rail authority with endless verbal distortions, as does Rossi and all the other Board members. 

Keep in mind the enormous power of an organization that gets to spend billions on many hundreds of contractors. What do the facts have to do with this? They can't hear us.

So, as we watch this debacle unfold in California, we can be sure that all our entreaties are of no avail. They fall on deaf ears. I wish my colleagues on the Peninsula would come to that same conclusion, and had come to it far earlier.

Why? Because a far more confrontational agenda had been and continues to be called for.  Persuasion is not the name of this game. Neither is accommodation or compromise, a favored tactic of most politicians, as they seek to have it "both ways." 

That is not possible. It has never been possible.  There's an old, stupid joke about hitting a mule on the head with a 2X4 in order to get his attention so that instructions can be whispered in his ear. In our context, that's not such a stupid joke, however.  

For us, lawsuits are such 2X4s.  We need to hit both Caltrain and the rail authority on the head with lawsuits to get their attention.  Nothing less will have any effect.  And they continue to provide us with ample opportunities to sue them.

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