City Journal Spring 2014

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Spring 2014
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Chris Reed
Solyndra Times Seven « Back to Story

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$40 a gallon for gasoline might not be an unreasonable figure if the Dems get the White House again.
$40 a gallon for gasoline might not be an unreasonable figure if the Dems get the White House again.
Keep up the drumbeat. This thing has the potential to bankrupt the state. All those university students protesting tuition hikes should be protesting this project because it will force the state to further cut future services.
Corrupt bastards keeping this boondoggle going for as long as they can to get rich from the public trough. This is merely one example of this sort of theft. There's a lot of talk, but when are these thieves going to be punished? Never, and they know it. We're doomed.
It's glaringly clear that the high speed rail fiction is driven by lies and cronyism.

Jerry Brown, Sacramento politicians and the public unions who own them don't really care if the high speed rail project is ever completed. What motivates them is the prospect of an endless public works project that can be used to fill union coffers, buy supporters and keep Democrats in control of the state indefinitely.

It's interesting that Governor Brown now suggests funding the project out by diverting money from the state's cap-and-trade scam. Using tax money from one disastrous boondoggle to fund another is like a snake eating its own tail.

None of it will work out like these charlatans envision. When cap-and-trade kicks in and energy prices skyrocket, California residents and industries will flee the state in droves, tax revenues will plummet and there will be zero ridership for their mythical bullet train.

I've lived in California for over fifty years and have witnessed the tragic but predictable decline of a once-beautiful state. California is Detroit writ large.
Thank God Gov. Scott said NO to Florida's low speed rail project. Our estimates were not as crazy as California's, but they were way off. I think they did the planning in Fantasy Land. Thank You Gov. Scott
"96 percent of commuters surveyed were already train riders"

...

"only a tiny percentage of Californians rides the train"

Yah, but it would sure be nice to have a bullet train in California. Maybe if California taxes gas at $30 or $35 a gallon we could finance this monster!
One can only hope that the boondoggle of the century will be derailed.
All irrelevant - being as it occurred during a Democrat Administration. (ie: different rules apply)
I wonder at all the folks who will likely vote to continue the rule of such PROVEN bureaucratic incompetents, because I realize that many of them are also among (or sympathetic to) the protesters against "corporate greed."
Ha! I was a member of one of the world's largest bureaucracies--the US Army--and I have experienced a civilian corporate environment, as well.
Anyone who thinks that private corporate power and control is a bigger threat to economic fairness and freedom than the federal government is simply not considering all of the facts.
People, please educate yourselves with history and reliable statistics. I strive to, so I am not asking anyone to do what I will not. That does not mean following the spin of a partisan. Read various sources, of differing views, on your own.
At least ask that much of yourself before you decide about those to whom you would give the honor of directing your government.
I always thought Walt Disney should have been given the chance to put a Monorail or People Mover system in Los Angeles. But there were powerful political forces that wanted freeways. Oh well.
If we rule out deliberate sabotage of the state of California or the nation, the politicians hyping this folly must be (1) naive fools, (2) shrewd crooks, or (3) blind ideologues.

I think California politicians figure that in the end, their state is larger and even more important than General Motors, and the federal government will simply bail out yet another "too big to fail" disaster.

The old saying was "go west youngman,go west". May I suggest Look east, look east. Since all politics is local according to that old Irishman Tip O'Neal (D) look to Boston' "Big Dig" for insights.
Politicans love projects done with public money because so much cash is just laying on the ground waiting for some poor forgot soul.
Unlike privately funded projects it is much harder for them with sticky fingers to helpthemselves and repay old politcal debts.
What bank would approve this project and its business plan? Maybe Bank ofAmerica?
Reed must know that the State. Leg. is set right now to pass this boondoggle. It should not surprise him since Dems rule the roost and will forever in this doomed soviet republic of Ca. Voters want goodies , unions want them especially CTA and of course, groups in the DNC pocketbook want them so they can buy votes. Yet ,many media outlets are actually warning against this rail passage. Won't matter. Brown and the libs want it because they hate cars, gas, oil and somehow believe this rail to nowhere will force voters to quit driving. Yikes. No wonder liberalism fails and is a disease that sane people try to avoid.
This is ridiculous. Why are we spending money at this time on anything we cannot afford.

Solyndra is wrong, and this rail is wrong for this time..
The train to nowhere? More political non-sense from our state politicians and their ties to DC waste.

Who from Southern California wants to go to that wasteland named San Francisco?
Chris Reed always brings thoughtful and independent thinking to current issues.
Delighted to find Chris popping up in the national political conversation. I've followed him from his days at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, and his guest appearances on KPCC.

Go Chris!
I'm so glad we shot that down here in Florida. We have low speed rail (Amtrak) that goes the same route as the proposed high speed rail. a 90 mile route with 4 stops for a train that goes 230 mph. I take the Amtrak route frequently , it goes a pretty decent 70 mph , costs are slightly less than driving, and hardly ever full. Now they expect us to ride for 4 times the cost to save a half an hour ?? Who comes up with these plans ? and why the Dems blind support for high speed rail ? it doesnt make sense at all. We will never see the day when you go from New York To Los Angeles on HSR. Why would we ? easy 6 hour flight
My thesis is that all all psychopaths are Democrats, but just possibly all Democrats are not psychopaths. Do not try to fight psychopaths with facts, mathematics, accounting standards (see Democrats' Unaffordable Housing Project), or rational thinking. You have to fight psychopaths with psychopaths, like fighting fire with fire.

I hereby declare that the California bullet train is a threat to endangered species, including the Delta smelt and the spotted owl. Gaia will be offended by the bullet train.
I think the California high speed rail project isn't expensive enough. Maybe we should build the whole thing underground? Or maybe out over the ocean? Or maybe some of both with some loop-d-loops in between to give it more of an amusement park feel.
Rigourous analysis - i.e., how much did the backers contribute to Democrats.
I would like to see a calculation of the costs to service the $100,000,000,000 debt we will have to incur to build this monstrosity. Even at 4% (a rate we will probably not be able to get as borrowers), that is $4,000,000,000 per year (interest only). In fact, it looks like we will be paying closer to 7%.
During the entire twenty or thirty years it will take to build this train to fiscal oblivion, we will have to be paying the debt service.
So, prior to the first paying passenger, we will already be on the hook for billions, or tens of billions, in annual debt payments which can only come from the general fund (since there won’t be any passengers).
Stop the madness!
A couple more numbers. Amtrak, all of it as of FY 2010 had 1500+ passenger cars. They collected an average revenue per passenger of $87 and had an expense per passenger of $130. Think about that before you buy into the trains, especially those run by a government entity. You have to believe in the tooth fairy to think the Cal rail system can do anything but saddle taxpayers, federal and state, with a huge subsidy bill.
The rationale provided for this project is false. This is criminal fraud on an astounding scale. Anyone who signed off on the project rationale should be prosecuted.
$40/gallon. Maybe there is future for rails, like maybe in the form of armored trains that were used in the Russian Revolution.
Phase one track jets along from Fresno to...Bakersfield. Phase two tracks if ever laid will have a more difficult route, over the grapevine to the south, and through heavy suburban regions of both norhtern and southern california. While we're on this subject, maybe have a look at another boondoggle choo-choo, the so-called SMART train that will carry maybe half a dozen passengers a day from Coverdale to San Rafael, CA. How do these things keep going?
Does anyone ever do simple arithmetic with regard to these projects? My calculator says that if they had a 30 year, 4% mortgage on this $100 billion folly, they would have a monthly payment of $477 million per month. That comes to $15 million per day, before operating expense. At $100 each that is 150,000 riders per day. At 72 seats per car that is 2083 cars, or 20.8 100 car trains. Is there anyone who looks at this and sees a great business opportunity????
Hmmm

It is amazing how many public works projects that actually benefit the consumer as opposed to corporate profits get shot down by the media and the corporate lobby. If Corporations would be the primary benificiary of this project you can bet this article would be singing its praises. If it is good for the working class then it must be bad. If it is good (profitable) for corporate America then by all means spend the money.
It does seem remarkable that it will take at least twenty years to build this, considering that the first transcontinental railroad was built in six years- with a great deal of hand labor.
I would love to see a television ad: a sophisticated San Francisco native(well dressed, et al) is talking to a friend while walking down the street in SF. Their conversation is interrupted when they are bumped into by another pedestrian in a hawaiian shirt. Suddenly they are jostled again - and again and pretty soon it is a flood of people in loud clothes - "Whaatt?" asks one to the other. With a resigned look the other says "from the South..." and on the screen - "the LA to SF high speed rail would require XX million users every year just to meet costs - otherwise the shortfall will come out of the budget, such as.....education. Get used to the new "normal"."
I'm a Californian who voted against HSR and it's my opinion that Governor Brown and other supporters of the HSR project know full well it's a boondoggle but don't care. I think they're counting on whatever Federal money they can get in the short term in order to funnel it to their supporters (in this case the unions), just as Obama paid off his supporters with the Solyndra loans. Amtrak isn't a success by any rational measure and it only survives because of government subsidies. There's no reason to think California's HSR would be any different.
This article cites the projected cost of the train to be $100 billion. Let's make a few assumptions, no matter how unlikely they may be: (1) The train is completed at the projected cost. (2) Ten million people per year buy tickets. (3) The cost of each ticket is $100. (4) There are no further subsidies of the train, its maintenance or the ticket price.

If all that holds true, the cost of the train will be repaid in a mere 100 years.

I'm sure I'd love riding this train, but I don't think I'd like to own it.
I know several people who occasionally get in deep financial holes. To a one, they immediately start spending money like there's no tomorrow. If they can spend that money (I speculate) it proves they still have money and aren't in trouble. That comforts them greatly.

State and national governments can do that kind of spending too, it appears.
There is clearly a piece of this puzzle that is missing...

Buckets of federal money are being spent on a project that is almost certainly not going to end in a functioning, viable transportation system. So who is getting the money? Unions? Developers?
This horror will never be built and was never intended to be built. It is yet one more purposeful transfer of taxpayer cash from the unconnected (taxpayers) to the connected (the cronies.) Environmental studies "performed" by connected environmental consultants will be litigated by well connected environmental lawyers will drain the available funding and not one stick of anything will ever be built. But well connected welathy friends of Gore, Boxer, Feinstein, Brown, Pelosi, Reid and various Kennedys will become more wealthy as a result of taxpayer payments.
I like the "get the Chinese to do it" part.So Arnie thought he could do what Union Pacific did a hundred thirty years ago.Im thinkin the ChiComs would not take to paying union scale in any deal with the golden morons in Sacramento. BTW,why would anyone pay a costly fare for a slow journey that planes do in 1/10th the time? Just askin.
But but but.... Trains and pollution! We must do this because otherwise the Earth will melt and the Sun will turn purple. But but but!!!
Rather than spending the money to build a train to nowhere, the money could be used to initially build a line from downtown LA to the Antelope Valley as well as build a line from Orange Country to downtown LA. From that point extensions north to SF could be built if the system proved to be viable.
Can you say con-artists? They all ought to be jailed.
Great expose on a massive boondoggle. KFI was all over this issue and mentioned this article this afternoon.
New Statewide Field Poll Dec. 2011 Results here proving that the MAJORITY OF CALIFORNIANS DO NOT WANT ANY KIND OF HIGH SPEED RAIL IN CALIFORNIA – COMPLETELY OPPOSITE OF WHAT GOVERNOR BROWN SAYS – DECEMBER 9, 2011 POLL HERE:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/12/state-voters-would-reject-high-speed-rail-project-poll-shows.html
and http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_19484490
and http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/12/solid-majority.html

And this new January 14, 2012 Survey USA Poll shows that most Californians want the sale of HSR bonds to be stopped, and most believe the train will never be built: http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReport_main.aspx?g=a6de7d0b-533c-4fb0-bfea-6fbd5ec746ed and here: http://www.probolskyresearch.com/california-voters-on-state-spending-and-high-speed-rail/ ans http://www.probolskyresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Probolsky-Research-State-Spending-and-High-Speed-Rail-Results-Memorandum2.pdf

It comes as no surprise that Republicans want the bond sales stopped by a margin of 71/19, but a plurality of Democrats also want a halt to the project, 46/41, as well as a plurality of independents at 48/39. In fact, the only demographic that still wants the bond sales to take place is self-described liberals, 33/62. Moderates are opposed 2-1 to the bond sales, 54/27.

This 12/2011 Field Poll, and the Survey USA Poll all confirm that 9/29/2011 statewide poll that confirms CA voters would overwhelmingly vote to spend limited state money on education/tuition, mentally ill, water, environment (75%) over a “high-speed-train” between SF LA (11%). 63% vote to end the HSR boondoggle now & 61% say they would never take a HSR train. Due to CA's bad budget, in 2011 we saw: protests at UC/CSU from 26% tuition increases, lawsuits from cities/non-profits from CA taking their money but releasing convicted felons into our communities, senior centers/state parks closing, CA taking redevelopment funds, cutbacks in social services, etc. In contrast, HSR costs rose to $117 billion but feds only provide $3 billion & CA liable for $97 billion and additional cost overruns. Call Governor at (916) 445-2841 and Treasurer Lockyer at(916) 653-2995to kill the boondoggle now.

Poll here: http://www.probolskyresearch.com/california-voters-on-state-spending-and-high-speed-rail/
ans http://www.probolskyresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Probolsky-Research-State-Spending-and-High-Speed-Rail-Results-Memorandum2.pdf