Gay Patriot Header Image

Should you build a monorail on a moonbeam?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 9:45 am - August 19, 2011.
Filed under: Big Government Follies,California politics

Back when my parents took us to Disneyworld as a kid, I thought the monorail was the coolest thing. I recall we stayed in this hotel where the elevated track came right into the lobby.  I was convinced this was the future and should serve as transportation everywhere–not just in theme parks.

Well, it seems some folks just haven’t shaken their childhood fascination with such projects, especially when they can get others to pay for them.  Our governor, as blogger Tyler Durden informs us, has decided “that the most insolvent state in America should proceed… with a high-speed rail project.”   He quotes this from the Sacramento Bee:

Gov. Jerry Brown said this afternoon that California’s embattled high-speed rail project should move forward, despite growing criticism about the project’s management and cost.

While the nation is in a “period of massive retrenchment,” Brown told The Fresno Bee’s editorial board, “I would like to be part of the group that gets America to think big again.

The Democratic governor has said little publicly about the project since it came under fire this year in Sacramento, with cost estimates rising and lawmakers questioning its oversight. The project, to connect San Francisco and Los Angeles, was once expected to cost about $43 billion, a figure the California High-Speed Rail Authority is expected to update this fall.

Emphasis added.  Um, Jer, considering the state’s fiscal woes, don’t you want to wait on those updated figures before signing off on the project?

And why, may I ask, is it that when Democrats “think big,” they do by imagining appropriating other peoples’ money — or spending funds they just don’t have?

H/t:  Instapundit.

NB:  Tweaked the title.

Share

21 Comments

  1. Dan:

    You complain incessantly about the wasteful spending and idiots in California, yet you choose to live there. Why don’t you get out of that hellhole and go somewhere better?

    Comment by davinci — August 19, 2011 @ 12:49 pm - August 19, 2011

  2. The project, to connect San Francisco and Los Angeles, was once expected to cost about $43 billion, a figure the California High-Speed Rail Authority is expected to update this fall.

    Which is why Brown and others are so anxious to break ground. Once that happens, it will be much harder to stop this disaster. IF we’re going to spend money, this money should be put into fixing the hideous roads in this state.

    Comment by Sonicfrog — August 19, 2011 @ 1:01 pm - August 19, 2011

  3. Oh… Brown was out here in Fresno, I would have liked to have seen him, but I was busy with work… Which is what I should be doing now.

    Comment by Sonicfrog — August 19, 2011 @ 1:02 pm - August 19, 2011

  4. The American railroads NEVER made money on passenger service…even in the Golden Age of Steam.

    The money was hauling freight and especially bulk like grain, petroleum, ore and coal just as it is today. Common-carrier packages and passengers were a cost-of-doing-business and a courtesy to both the railroads customers and their powerful political patrons. And the “glamor” named-trains that crossed the nation carrying the important and famous were basically advertising-costs, not revenue.

    Krugman and Friedman make the same mistake about equating the Chinese high-speed rail with the Eisenhower Interstates. While locally they benefited moving people around, the real benefit of the Eisenhower Interstate Highways was and is moving freight….not city-to-city passengers.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — August 19, 2011 @ 2:31 pm - August 19, 2011

  5. Why not Buffet, Gates and Jobs pay for it. They say they are
    under taxed.

    Comment by nolabill — August 19, 2011 @ 2:55 pm - August 19, 2011

  6. Spent my vacation in Park City, Utah. Numerous freeway improvement projects on I 15 once we crossed the border from Nevada. Great roads like the ones use to be in California when I was growing up. This guy reminds of someone on welfare who “needs” to buy that 60 inch plasma tv cause it will make his house look cool…lol!!!

    Comment by killiteten - Native Intelligence — August 19, 2011 @ 3:39 pm - August 19, 2011

  7. One of the better PR moves for Gov Kaisich is pointing to this mess and saying “You want to know why I killed the rail project, look at California.”

    (Someone please get my Gov to hire better press people please!)

    Comment by The_Livewire — August 19, 2011 @ 3:47 pm - August 19, 2011

  8. You are correct about freight being the money-maker for railroads. Yet without passenger rail, the West would not have been opened as quickly as it was. Even after WWII the US rail system handled two-thirds of the commercial passenger traffic. It was the feeder lines which saw the most pressure from buses and autos. Of course, the 1959 recession showed the railroads just how much the truckers had taken away in profits. And, when the St. Lawrence Seaway opened that same year, freight conveyance shifted further away from rail.

    Nonetheless, the real reason for the decline of American railroads lay in government competition. With the growth of real or imagined Cold War needs, the passing around of delicious Pork Barrel projects, and Congressional minds stuck in 19th century railroad evils, it was understandable that the railways bore the brunt of unfavorable tax policies, labor laws, and ICC regulations. As an example, the 15% excise tax on common-carrier tickets controlled civilian travel during WWII, was happily continued, and only removed during Kennedy’s Administration. County and municipal property taxes also imposed many tolls. One cannot say the railroads themselves were blameless; the precipitous decline in food and sleeping cars by the Southern Pacific was only one example of the companies’ shortsightedness.

    With every little burg wanting a piece the 1946 Airport Development Act with its authorization of USD500 million to construct new airports, what Congressman could resist channeling funds to his locale. Eisenhower’s love for the German autobahn yielded the Defense Highways Act of 1956 with its Highway Trust Fund based on gas, tires, and commercial vehicles taxes. Thus, city drivers subsidized those in the countryside, and the populous Atlantic Seaboard, the sparse West. Needless to say, not only did Washington D.C. enter the transportation business thus violating the free enterprise preached by the Republicans, but the Federal Government caused the death of an important taxpaying industry. When Eisenhower signed the bill, the president of the B & O Railroad told him he’d just signed the “death warrant” of U.S. passenger service. Eisenhower’s reply? “We’ll see.”

    Poor Amtrak from 1971 onwards has never had a chance. From Nixon’s refusal to allow the purchase of new passenger cars to Reagan’s rejection of any plan to improve service down to today, the carrier has basically been ignored. Not that Amtrak wants to rock the boat of subsidies by upsetting its in-house organized labor. The government could encourage rail service to airport hubs, and allow the airlines to invest in such rails in return for ongoing dropping of unprofitable short-hops. We might also form consortia of private companies to create high-speed rail corridors…even if doing so puts the U.S. in the ironic situation of having to buy back its own engineering from foreign manufacturers. Private companies could also run the trains and price the tickets, while the government maintains the rights of way (just as it does for highways and airports). Private investors could also handle toll roads to reflect their true costs.

    I have to question the wisdom of our choices in national transportation, particular when viewing those of our European and Asian competitors and the success of their high-speed railways. So many billions for one high-speed corridor sounds stupid amidst today’s budget/debt crises. Yet, just as one single railway contributed to the fall of Tsarist Russia, so the U.S. may find its highway system of individual and gradually obsolescent internal combustion engines is a “one-way ticket to ride.”

    Comment by Bryan — August 19, 2011 @ 4:44 pm - August 19, 2011

  9. Davinci

    I can answer why we, who live in CA, and “complain about the waste and idiots” don’t just get up and leave. Financial. I bought my house 35 years ago. Now with the inflated price of the house and the inflated capital gains tax, if I sold it would not leave me enough money to buy a house in another State. Leaving my relatives and friends is not what I want to do. Also I like the climate here. But all of that does not mean that I can not complain about the sad state that CA is in now. My daughter, a school superintendant, this Spring had to give notice to 400 of her teachers and other school personnel that they may not have a job when school starts next Fall. Considering the stupid way this State has been run in the last 25 years, do you think that we should just keep quite.

    FYI. I do spend a good part of my time in Colorado.

    Comment by John R — August 19, 2011 @ 5:05 pm - August 19, 2011

  10. You have to wonder if taxpayers in the more prudent states will, at some point, say “Enough”. Is it reasonable to expect that, say, North Dakota should bear an ever-increasing burden to bail out California’s billion dollar boondoggles?

    If at first you don’t secede, try, try again. – Florence King

    Comment by SoCalRobert — August 19, 2011 @ 6:30 pm - August 19, 2011

  11. Easy to complain and denigrate; hard to create a working and beneficial plan. When it comes to California, I’ve decided Gay Patriot has much to criticize and little to construct. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

    Comment by Bryan — August 20, 2011 @ 3:11 pm - August 20, 2011

  12. Easy to complain and denigrate; hard to create a working and beneficial plan.

    And since your Obama Party and you have done nothing else, it’s obvious that you’re lazy and unwilling to actually work.

    But then again, that’s no surprise to us. Barack Obama supporters don’t want jobs and opportunity; they want handouts at other peoples’ expense. Welfare gays like yourself, Bryan, are an epic example thereof, barebacking and spreading disease and then demanding that other people pay your bills and disability payments.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — August 21, 2011 @ 1:28 am - August 21, 2011

  13. I concluded, long ago, that High Speed Pork was all about getting ObaMarx reelected in Florida. I suspect Gov. Scott arrived at the same conclusion. I’ve not met anybody who ride on the train except for the novelty of it. The idea was supposed to alleviate traffic backups on I-4 which I’ve never encountered. Oh, and supposedly HSP was supposed to provide a zillion permanent jobs. That’s the biggest complaint. Can’t help but think, though, that the majority of those employed would be sitting around staring at the ceiling all day while a handful of people actually made the empty train run.

    Comment by TGC — August 21, 2011 @ 5:07 am - August 21, 2011

  14. [...] Gay Patriot features monorails and moonbeams [...]

    Pingback by Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup » Pirate's Cove — August 21, 2011 @ 9:57 am - August 21, 2011

  15. I have to question the wisdom of our choices in national transportation, particular when viewing those of our European and Asian competitors and the success of their high-speed railways. So many billions for one high-speed corridor sounds stupid amidst today’s budget/debt crises. Yet, just as one single railway contributed to the fall of Tsarist Russia, so the U.S. may find its highway system of individual and gradually obsolescent internal combustion engines is a “one-way ticket to ride.”

    That was a great post, and I think this is the most important point. Rail is central to every other advanced economy on the planet. There’s no reason to think it wouldn’t be a profitable and efficient addition to our own economy as well.

    Comment by Levi — August 21, 2011 @ 11:21 am - August 21, 2011

  16. #14: “There’s no reason to think it wouldn’t be a profitable and efficient addition to our own economy as well.”

    No reason other than history and mathematics.

    Besides Levi, if rail systems had a stellar history in the US of profitability and success, you and every other liberal in America would be on a self-righteous crusade to shut it down, chaining yourselves to the tracks, screaming about plutocracies, income disparity, and the failure of capitalism. If you added success/profitability to rail in the US, it would just become another one of the Left’s targets for destruction like Wal-Mart or the Koch Brothers.

    Comment by Sean A — August 21, 2011 @ 11:55 am - August 21, 2011

  17. Sean,

    you forgot Geography as well. But then facts have never stopped Levi from spewing his lies.

    He’s a lying racist coward, but at least he’s consistent.

    Comment by The_Livewire — August 21, 2011 @ 2:21 pm - August 21, 2011

  18. There’s no reason to think it wouldn’t be a profitable and efficient addition to our own economy as well.

    If it were profitable and efficient, the Obama Administration would be trying to stop it, not subsidize it.

    Comment by V the K — August 21, 2011 @ 2:53 pm - August 21, 2011

  19. Obama wants the government to control everything; his goal is to make the United States of America into something similar to Cuba or North Korea. The first step is taking over health care & transform the United States into the Euro-States. If we’re lucky, all of the Obama agenda will be repealed ASAP, but this means he must be kicked out of the White House in the 2012 elections. Otherwise, we’re lost.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — August 21, 2011 @ 7:38 pm - August 21, 2011

  20. John R.

    You bring up good points, and conservatives in California can try for change, but they have no chance of succeeding due to the low number of GOP and high numbers of Dems.

    Comment by davinci — August 21, 2011 @ 11:33 pm - August 21, 2011

  21. There’s no reason to think it wouldn’t be a profitable and efficient addition to our own economy as well.

    Yes there is; the fact that it already had an opportunity to be and failed under competition from automobiles and planes.

    Now, go ahead and illuminate us with the grand conspiracy that led to the downfall of passenger rail in this country, Levi. I’m sure it will reveal so much about what little shits like yourself and your loser parents would prefer happen in the world.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — August 22, 2011 @ 12:11 pm - August 22, 2011

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.