Thursday, July 12, 2012
Bullet [Train] To The Brain
IF YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A HOLE, STOP DIGGING. Commonsense advice which liberals routinely ignore.
First, we have California’s recent legislative action approving $4.5 billion in state funding for what many Californians call the Bullet Train to Nowhere. Anybody who has been conscious recently knows that California is for all intents and purposes bankrupt. The legislature brilliantly attempted to fix this problem by getting the $3.2 billion in federal funds which would have been lost if California hadn’t voted to throw bad money after worse to build a pie-in-the-sky train. In other words, a bankrupt state is getting money from a bankrupt federal government which is borrowing the money from China.
The picture accompanying this article is an artist’s rendering of the nonexistent train pulling into a nonexistent station in one of California’s bankrupt cities. Last year, the city of Vallejo filed for bankruptcy protection. Recently, Stockton, California followed Vallejo’s filing, becoming the largest city in America ever to file bankruptcy. Last week, the City of Mammoth Lakes filed. Not to be outdone, on Wednesday, the City of San Bernardino, population 210,000, added to the list. Two major credit rating agencies recently reported that 20% of California’s cities face bankruptcy within five years.
So what does a good government do when faced with major portions of its body politic going bankrupt? Spend more money. Currently, the first leg of the fast choo-choo is set to go from Bakersfield to Madera. That’s farmland. But even though the ecoweenies have badly damaged the Central Valley’s water supply by protecting a useless fish, there are still huge areas continuing to produce food items for America’s dinner tables. Those remaining stalwart farmers have been using every means available to them to derail this train. They have been temporarily successful in stalling it at least, because the proposed routes (there have been three so far) cut off farmers, their livestock and their crops from their daily activities and means of transport. In case you're wondering, they don't allow cattle on bullet trains (unless they're service or emotional support animals, I suppose).
But despite astronomical budget deficits and hearty opposition to the train itself, the geniuses in Sacramento went ahead with the project anyway. Why write bad checks by yourself when you have enablers in Washington DC who will help you out with IOUs? Three other states had the good sense to turn the federal high speed rail funds down because of budget deficits. Two of the three have instead cleaned up their fiscal houses and now have budget surpluses. But they won’t have super Casey Jones. How sad.
Never daunted, Governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown praised the legislature’s action and promised a quick signature from the State House. Says Brown: “The money is there. We have the capability in California in a $2 trillion dollar economy to finance this thing.” Well, the state had that economy before the train, and it is still billions of dollars in the hole. The estimated final cost of the high speed line is $68 billion (and you know how accurate government estimates are). Brown is another typical Democratic politician who believes that you’re not broke as long as you still have checks.
The second headline news that caught my attention was the reaction from the Obama administration to California’s brilliant move. Basking in the glow of other green initiatives and government glory such as Solyndra and LightSquared, the Obamists are positively orgasmic over California’s approval of the nation’s first High Speed Railway to Nowhere. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took time off from praising the efficiency of China’s government by three-man dictatorships to extol the joys of the California action.
Here’s what LaHood had to say: “I congratulate the Legislature on taking this action, which will create thousands of jobs and strengthen the California economy. In the next 20 years, California expects more than 7 million additional residents. But, as the state’s residents know all too well, the highways between California cities are already congested, and short-haul takeoff and landing slots at Golden State airports are at a premium.” LaHood fails to notice that California is bleeding taxpayers and taxpaying businesses, so we can guess where those 7 million additional residents are coming from.
I have driven between the metropolitan Bay Area and the metropolitan Los Angeles area literally hundreds of times in my life. Interstate 5 is hardly congested, and I’ve had times in which I drove for half an hour or more before seeing another car. I drive because the waiting time and inconvenience of airports and airlines are outweighed by the convenience of traveling in my own car (though gas prices have changed that formula a bit).
Where does LaHood think these train stations are going to be located? They’ll be placed in exactly the same locations as the current airports. The congestion is not the travel time on either the airplanes or the trains, it’s the highways getting to the stations and airports. And whether the train goes 120 mph or 220 mph, the congestion getting to the stations won’t be any different. Then there’s the joy of leaving your car parked in high-crime areas while you take your high speed trip from crime-ridden Los Angeles to crime-ridden San Francisco. Poor San Diego has to wait for awhile.
So just remember next November that as California goes so goes the nation. Unless we make damned sure that the Democrats don’t win.