One of the greatest absurdities of the so-called New Green Deal proposed then backed away from by socialist-inclined Democrats, is the idea that the nation’s transportation needs can be met by building high-speed rail everywhere – and getting rid of cars and airplanes.
This utopian nonsense supposedly is rooted in a desire to “do something about climate change,” which has become code for destroying civilization’s affluence, seizing control over you and your money and enriching crony opportunists.
The timing was exquisite when just days after the New Green Deal was made public, California’s new left-wing Governor Gavin Newsom pulled the plug on the state’s fanciful plan to build a high-speed rail from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Newsom’s sacrilege to the gods of climate change illustrates what happens when socialist utopian dreams bump up against reality.
Originally estimated to cost $33 billion, it’s more reasonably predicted to exceed $100 billion today. After 11 years no track has been laid upon which any type of train has rolled, and no one can with a straight face give a date when that might happen.
“Let’s level about the high-speed rail,” Newsom said. “Let’s be real: The current project as planned would cost too much and, respectfully, take too long. ”
Yours truly may have written the first newspaper editorial in the Orange County Register against the ballot proposition in 2008 that called for $9.9 billion in bonds to be sold to build the so-called “bullet train.”
After voters unwisely approved the bond sale, I wrote repeatedly for years that it would cost up to three times as much as originally estimated and never be completed – although a lot of money would be spent on studies conducted by crony contractors, and a lot of meaningless work would be performed by unions that support the Democratic Party and a lot of people’s real estate would be confiscated by the government. All of which came to pass.
What didn’t come to pass was completion of the train. As I wrote many times after 2008, no high-speed train will ever roll on tracks connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles. And after 11 years, none has.
But don’t think that utter failure and all those wasted taxpayer dollars would cause the utopian, tax-and-spend lobby to back off.
Newsom says he intends to use the money approved by voters and so far, received from the federal government to complete a section of the railroad that connects Merced to Bakersfield.
Incidentally, the private sector which we were promised would invest heavily in the scheme, has yet to contribute a dime. Apparently private concerns recognize a rat hole when they see one.
I’ve been to Merced and Bakersfield, a couple small burgs in the sparsely populated California Central Valley. Trust me, it’s not worth billions of dollars to get from the one to the other, let alone to get there at 220 miles an hour.
And, just as yours truly and many others who studied the proposal have concluded, there’s no way the train, no matter where it begins and ends, will ever operate without taxpayer subsidies for riders’ ticket purchases.
That’s important because among the far-fetched unrealized promises made to voters in 2008 was that the train would be self-sufficient, its operating costs covered by ticket fares paid by riders. That was never realistic, and never will be.
Moreover, fares would have to be considerably higher than comparable air plane tickets, and the ride would take considerably longer than by plane. The idea of self-sufficiency was a pipe dream from Day 1. Or, more likely, a blatant lie.
Were the train’s critics the only people smart enough to see the impossibility of this “train to nowhere,” as I referred to it in many editorials and columns?
That’s doubtful. More likely, every one of the train’s backers were aware of the facts. That’s why when the initial estimated cost of $33 billion promised in the 2008 ballot measure increased by more than $10 billion barely a year later, the spokesman for the choo choo operation told the press that “of course” the cost will go up with passage of time. Of course.
This dove-tails perfectly with the philosophy of one of California’s preeminent far-left leaders, Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, Democrat from San Francisco, who for 30 years even during the administration of Republican governors, steered the state Legislature further and further leftward.
“…If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved. The idea is to get going. Start digging a hole and make it so big, there’s no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in…” Willie Brown said in 2013, apparently without shame.
Here’s the lesson for America, particularly when considering the absurd New Green Deal’s proposed high-speed trains and other pipe dreams: When people become aware of the ugly facts underlying the puffed-up promises, what briefly was wide-spread support shrivels into a mere fraction of the public, consisting of the hard-core and the oblivious.
Medicare for all was wildly popular on its initial hype this year. But as details of what it would mean in real dollars, real delays and real denials of service became apparent, support sank by more than 50% in just one month, according to a Morning Consult/Politico poll.
You can fool some of the people some of the time, but if there’s any justice, New Green Dealers won’t be able to fool enough people enough of the time to tie America’s future to faux solutions for pretend problems, like high-speed trains to fix climate change.
This should have been apparent from the beginning in California when the high-speed train was proposed to reduce global warming greenhouse gases that supposedly cause the atmosphere to get dangerously hot. Who, having given even casual thought to the idea could have been convinced of such fanciful claims?
The manufacture and application of concrete alone is one of the most intensive CO2-generating activities, and a massive 800-mile construction project was going to need heaps of the stuff made, transported and poured. Yeah, that should reduce emissions, no one concluded ever. Pardon the sarcasm.
It should occur to everyone that when the clear wording of the 2008 ballot initiative said the money must go to pay for an 800-mile system for 220-mile-an-hour trains connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco, using it instead for a 100-mile train of any speed from Merced to Bakersfield breaks the promise.
I suggest a lawsuit seeking a return to the voters of however much of those bonds have been sold and spent is called for.
Speaking of broken contracts, President Donald Trump has announced the federal government wants back the $3 billion Washington kicked in for the train under Barack Obama. As it was with California voters, that money was provided with understandings of where the train would run, and other details that now are all unfulfilled or highly unlikely.
Jerry Brown, who was governor for the past eight years and loved the train like a member of the family, boasted that California is billions of dollars in the black. His replacement, Gavin Newsom should drop the utopian, big-government pipe dream and use some of that surplus money to pay back voters and the federal government for funds taken under false pretenses.
In the real world, what has happened and may continue to happen with California’s no-speed train-to-nowhere would be consider breach of contract. If not fraud.
That’s because the whole scheme never really has been about the earth getting warmer. It’s always been about control and money. Their control. Your money.
The road to socialist Utopia is paved with high-speed rail tracks on which trains will never roll. But unless they are stopped, the utopian New Green Dealers will continue digging that hole.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.