Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

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12 December 2010

Building the Progressive Socialist Train from Nowhere to Nowhere

California has long wanted to build a 500-mile long high speed passenger train, a so-called bullet train, from San Francisco to Los Angeles, through the Central Valley.  California voters approved a bond ballot measure for $9.95 billion in 2008 for the project, ten years in the planning, which they were told would:
  • Cost $40 billion.
  • Have a ticket cost of $55 to travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
  • Transport 94 million passengers a year.
  • The time of travel would be 2.5 hours.
  • The rail line would operate with a surplus and no subsidies would be needed.
  • 450,000 sustainable jobs would be created.
The Progressive Socialist federal government of the first half of the Obama administration has approved money to assist California in this effort.  The federal and state monies presently approved will build a 65-mile long segment of the railroad for $4.15 billion.  It will go from Corcoran, CA, with a population estimated to be about 25,000, to Borden, CA.  Borden is a tiny suburb of Madera, whose population is about 57,000.  Corcoran is on the less populated side of the Central Valley with complete desolation to its south and west and the small city of Tulare, population 58,000, about 19 miles to its northeast.  Corcoran is best known for the state prison there.  It probably needs bullet train service so the prisoners released from California prisons, because California cannot afford to keep them in prison, can leave the area quickly.

With the Republicans about to take over the money appropriations control in the House of Representatives, there will be no more federal tax money going to this project for quite some time.  I think we can be sure there will be no more for at least the next 6 years, if not for the next 10 years.  The short segment of the rail to be built will not be operated until more is built.  This is likely to help guarantee that if a bullet train is ever built from San Francisco to Los Angeles, the short segment will be obsolete and the route may well be changed.  It will be better if it were never built even in part.  It will be good if it is abandoned even after this segment from nowhere to nowhere is built.  The California authority that planned this line and two years ago made the claims above before the voters approved the bond measure, now says in the best bait and switch fashion:
  •  The cost will be $42.6 billion.
  •  The one-way ticket cost has increased to $105.
More realistic estimates are:
  • The construction cost will be somewhere between $62 billion and $213 billion.
  • The one-way ticket cost will be about $190.
  • At least $19 billion of federal money will have to be provided if there is to be any hope that the train will not have to be subsidized by California taxpayers, even though the authorizing legislation forbids that.
  • The 450,000 sustainable job workers are twice as many as the California government's active work force.  How realistic is it that so many jobs might be created by this rail line? 
The only bullet train railroads in the world having substantial segments of their systems able to operate without subsidies are in Japan and France.  Both are in much more densely populated areas than the comparatively low density Central Valley of California with its farming industry.  As we can see, California's Progressive Socialist central planning bureaucrats are about as competent as central planners always are.  They have done an excellent job of setting California's taxpayers up for a huge fall.

Meanwhile, the Central Valley of California has suffered from severe water shortages for the last several years.  Central planners have a lot to do with this problem also.  California has two major water projects controlled by central planners.  The Central Valley Project of 1933 is a creature of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.  The State Water Project of 1960 began under Democrat Gov. Pat Brown.  These two programs caused agricultural land use to increase from 4.9 to 8.6 million acres.  This huge increase in agricultural water use was based on water subsidies, water user fees rather than prices that fluctuate with supply and demand, water monopolies by the government, and a lack of water property rights.  All of these factors cause the uneconomical use of water.  This generally means that water will of course be used carelessly and wasted.  The effect is not unlike the use of the hard-earned money of California and American taxpayers to pay for a short bullet train track segment from Nowhere to Nowhere which will never be used.

Meanwhile, it is worth our noting that the newly elected Republican governors of Ohio and Wisconsin, have announced that they were returning the high speed train grants given to their states by the Progressive Socialists.  The returned Wisconsin money was for a train route from Milwaukee to Madison and the Ohio line was to go from Cleveland to Columbus to Cincinnati.  Secretary of Transportation LaHood has given the returned $1.2 billion to 13 states that want to build these taxpayer blood-sucking high speed trains.  John Kasich and Scott Walker have no doubt saved the states of Ohio and Wisconsin a fortune in wasted capital expense and subsequent train subsidies.

The returned money is going to the Democrat states of California, Illinois, New York, Washington, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, North Carolina, and Iowa.  The toss-up states of Florida, Missouri, and Indiana are also getting money.  It is really hard to imagine how Maine, Oregon, North Carolina, Iowa, Missouri, and Indiana will find areas with dense enough populations to make their high speed trains pay.  The otherworldly winner of this nonsense has to be Vermont.  Its high speed train will go from St. Albans in the northwest corner of the state to Vernon in the southeast corner of the state.  St. Albans has a population of 7200 and Vernon's population is 2,000.  The biggest city in Vermont is Burlington, with a population of about 39,000.  Yes, this is the state that gave us Howard Dean and Bernie Sanders.  What can you expect.  The 13 states taking the high speed train money will rue the day they did.  No, not the damn politicians, it is the weary and overloaded taxpayer mules who will do the ruing.  At least most of these non-ruminating mules are Democrat asses.


Zeph said...

This would be a huge step for high speed trains in the Unites States; building construction is a huge industry and a high speed train of this magnitude would require a lot of resources. Europe is way ahead of the U.S. in terms of its high speed railways. This is an interesting topic that I definitely want to learn more about. I just found out that McGraw Hill's California Construction site is a great place to do that. There are a ton of resources on construction news, current projects, and available products around California. While I do some work for McGraw Hill, I have been using them as a construction resource long before we started working together. Check out their website, it has great information on topics like this.

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

Yes, Zeph, this high-speed train construction project will require a lot of resources. Those resources will be stolen from the private sector where they would have been used more productively and shoved into the government sector where they will be spent lavishly and perhaps corruptly with much less to show for them. The states have been spending money foolishly on infrastructure construction since the early 1800s. In fact, those foolish canal, turnpike, and early railroad projects caused 9 of 28 states and territories to default on their loan obligations in the early 1840s following the Panic of 1837.

Your comment does not seem to indicate that you actually read my post.