Friday, October 19, 2012

And Now, A Word From Your High-Speed Rail Opponent

You haven't heard from me since June. I'll be frank here.  I've given up hope that this project will ever be terminated.  Therefore, with or without funds, it will continue to hang over the heads of every tax-paying Californian forever.

As you know if you've been tracking political events in the papers, the Democratic Administration and Legislature have voted to extract funds from the intended state municipal bonds to pay for a part of the initial construction in the Central Valley, as well as remain eligible to receive the $3.3 billion from the FRA. 

I should point out what is now obvious: This will have nothing to do with high-speed rail.  It will have everything to do with the pumping of cash through the state economy.  With that cash, they will lay some track.

In order to do so, they will "take" -- a legal term -- properties, public and private, for the right of way.  Farms, dairies, manufacturing facilities, homes, as well as schools and other municipal structures that are in their way will be taken through eminent domain.  These tracks -- we don't know how much they can lay until their funds run out -- will be useful only if Amtrak wants to use them.  A big IF.

Let me reiterate: This is not high-speed rail. There may never be a high-speed rail system as now promised.  In short, they will do a vast amount of damage, including economic damage, to lay some useless track. Did I mention that all this is budgeted at around $6 billion? Did I also  mention that every tax payer in America will be dinged for this cost?

But, wait; there's more.  They will also acquire and spend another billion to electrify Caltrain on the Bay Area Peninsula and build out the Metrolink transit system in the Los Angeles Basin. While that is intended as regional commuter rail upgrades, it is also being labelled high-speed rail to be eligible for federal and state dollars. 

As I've said thousands of times, we are being scammed.  This is a political boondoggle. I'm not against spending money on infrastructure.  I think it's a necessity and a good idea.  However, I am deeply opposed to what our state government is doing to us with this project which we don't need. The basic premise of this blog is: It's not about the train; it's about the money.

As a life-long Democrat, I really hate to put it in these terms.  I believe that the Democrats are supporting this project for all the wrong reasons, and the Republicans are opposing it for all (or at least many) wrong reasons.  Transportation, or transit, has nothing to do with their positions.

I believe in government social safety nets. I believe in infrastructure repair and maintenance. I believe in affordable public mass transit. I believe that the government has a role in creating an appropriate economic environment that provides opportunities for jobs.

But, I firmly believe that this high-speed rail project in California reeks of political corruption and that the state does not need a train this costly -- vastly over $100 billion, that can only be afforded to be used by the affluent.  

The people of California have been lied to and continue to be lied to about this project and the incredible waste and harm it will inflict on all of us.  These funds will line the pockets of contractors large and small.  They will grease political wheels both of Unions and corporate interests. 

And, California being among the bluest of states, will see that this project and it's fumbling bureaucracy remain in office well into eternity.

There's certainly not much more that can be said about all this.  Therefore,  the rest is silence.

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