California Is Dying

The Obama administration has announced that it wants to spend a half-billion dollars buying high-speed rail cars in an obvious bid to create more businesses beholden to the administration as well as to its rail program. But more and more people are turning against the president’s dream of being the Eisenhower of high-speed rail.

The Wall Street Journal calls the California high-speed plan the Kafka Express. Michael Lind, of the center-left New America Foundation, realizes that high-speed rail is the wrong future. Yet Jerry Brown is so insistent on building it that he’s willing to sacrifice welfare and other social programs.

In response to pressure from the federal government to start construction, the president of California’s senate has asked the federal government to commit itself to put up several tens of billions to finish the project. Of course, with resistance to the project in Congress, that’s not going to happen.

California’s high-speed rail authority wants to be exempted from environmental rules so it doesn’t have to worry about legal delays. Meanwhile, it has been erasing emails so critics can’t find out how much it has tweaked the data to justify its plans.

All of this contributes to California being the worst state in which to do business. Companies are leaving the state, the wealthy are leaving the state, and the middle class is leaving the state.

The state’s population is growing, but this must be natural population growth, because the state has lost 4 million net internal migrants since 1990–and continues to lose to more business-friendly states such as Texas.

Is California’s situation hopeless? Yes, so long as the state puts toys such as high-speed rail above the health of the economy as a whole.

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13 thoughts on “California Is Dying

  1. LazyReader

    What’s Hollywood gonna do when they run out of employee’s. Probably move back to New Jersey where the film industry started.

    60% of Americans take more from the public finance system than they put in. They receive more in public services than they pay in taxes. Addressing crippling budgetary issues involves one of two things, raising taxes or CUTTING SPENDING (*hint hint). You can milk the rich until there’s nothing left. Imagine this, take every last penny from everyone in America who has/earns more than a 100,000 dollars, including every millionaire or billionaire. Every last dime, dollar, share of stock, asset, or penny, you’d have well over 2-3 trillion dollars; Sound’s like a lot. So what! That’s not enough to make Medicare financially solvent. Or Medicaid either. Certainly not enough to make Social Security fiscally sound. Economists predicted this decades ago & warned us that these systems would not hold up very long especially when already the first generations of recipients are already taking thousands of dollars a year out of it. Young people encouraged to get into the system as early as possible will be stuck with the debt. Attempts to reform social security or retiree healthcare were met with protests from the very people taking money out. When a Senate candidate proposed seniors input Medicare co-pays to make it more fiscally secure, people screamed, threw things, booed him and even called him a fascist and chased him to his car and for 25 years Congress ducked the issue and it was quietly put on the back burner. In the 2000′s one senator proposed similar solutions, again met with the same angry reactions. The message is clear “Don’t touch my entitlements”. President Clinton tried welfare reform in the 90′s, which was met with raised voices. Clinton reinforced conservative dogma that the welfare state was more of a problem than a solution. Some people predicted “trauma” unlike anything seen. But it didn’t happen. Welfare case loads fell by half and 2 million children were lifted out of poverty.

  2. C. P. Zilliacus

    California’s high-speed rail authority wants to be exempted from environmental rules so it doesn’t have to worry about legal delays.

    That would literally require an Act of Congress to amend the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act (among others).

    Wonder why the promoters of high-speed rail in California think they should have such an exemption? Certainly the I-710 project through (or hopefully under) South Pasadena is not getting such a pass.

    Meanwhile, it has been erasing emails so critics can’t find out how much it has tweaked the data to justify its plans.

    That implies that something is seriously wrong with the travel demand forecasts for the project.

  3. Dan

    All of this contributes to California being the worst state in which to do business. Companies are leaving the state, the wealthy are leaving the state, and the middle class is leaving the state.

    CA is ungovernable: conflicting propositions, Prop 13, cr*ppy schools (thanks Prop 13), 20M more people than the ecosystems can handle, conflicting propositions, long record of cr8ppy governance…

    DS

  4. msetty

    Of course, The Antiplanner also won’t like the alternative “statewide rail system” suggested by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Board of Directors, even though it is quite sensible:

    http://www.voiceofoc.org/countywide/this_just_in/article_588fbb42-9ea2-11e1-9a1c-0019bb2963f4.html

    “Gov. Jerry Brown and state high-speed rail officials were urged Monday by a unanimous Orange County Transportation Authority board to forget the $68-billion bullet train project and create instead a basic state rail system….”

    I don’t know if they read MY White Paper on this topic at http://www.publictransit.us/ptlibrary/whitepapers/CaliforniaNetworkedTransit.pdf, but they obviously are smart people…

    LazyReader Reply:

    What is basic rail. 60 mph, 65 mph. In essence going as fast as typical highway speed. It would probably still be expensive. They would still have to build numerous bridges, tunnels or overpaths to be a continuous route unobstructed by any highway. Alot of what blew up the CHSR costs was the fact they would have to build over 600 bridges and tunnels.

    Sandy Teal Reply:

    If only we could invent a way to move people without needing bridges and tunnels, could travel at 400 mph, and take them from LA to SF for only $49 without massive subsidies. That would be a miracle!

    Jardinero1 Reply:

    Yes, that would be a miracle. I wonder if we could invent a way to go from Burbank to SF or Orange County to SF, or Long Beach or Ontario, or Palmdale all to SF. It would be an even greater miracle if you could connect to any city in the world from those locales.

    Dan Reply:

    I wonder if we could invent a way to go from Burbank to SF or Orange County to SF, or Long Beach or Ontario, or Palmdale all to SF. It would be an even greater miracle if you could connect to any city in the world from those locales.

    Ludicrous Security Theater to justify the Dept of Heimat Sekuritat making this mode unpleasant notwithstanding, surely you aren’t arguing that this magic mode of transportation is unsubsidized.

    DS

    Jardinero1 Reply:

    Yes, this magic mode is subsidized and I am the first to argue against any transportation subsidy. The relevant question is how much subsidy per passenger mile does each mode receive?

    Jardinero1 Reply:

    I looked at your white paper. In your hypothetical “granny goes to twenty-nine palms” example, you have omitted any comparison with granny flying. I imagine that if Granny had a choice of a ride to the airport with four hours flying time, max, or a 14 hour train ride; the plane trip would win hands down even in the hyper-extreme case of Redding to Twenty-nine Palms which, to me, is definitely the outlier.

    Jardinero1 Reply:

    I would also point out that few travelers in Europe use the train for distances greater than 300 miles. Most Europeans fly distances over 300 miles.

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