Idiots Didn’t Build California

“Wimps didn’t build California,” claims this pro-high-speed rail video. Instead, California was built by “people with grit”: people like Walt Disney, who hated subsidies so much that he paid extra to have Disneyland get its electrical power from a private company rather than the public power company that served Anaheim.

If you have trouble viewing this video here, see it on Youtube.

“People said the Golden Gate Bridge was impossible,” the video says. It turned out to be possible because it was paid for entirely out of user fees, unlike high-speed rail whose costs would come mainly from people who would never use it.

“They said the Central Valley Water Project would bankrupt the state.” Lo and behold, the state is nearly bankrupt.

“They said BART was a fiasco.” I’d say that spending billions on a transit system only to see per capita transit ridership fall by two-thirds is a fiasco.

“They said the L.A. Metro was foolish.” A 17-mile subway line to nowhere that had huge cost overruns and attracted far fewer riders than expected does sound pretty foolish.

High-speed rail would “create tens of thousands of good jobs.” Actually, high-speed rail would create zero jobs. All of the jobs would be created by taxpayers forking over their hard-earned dollars to the state, which would then give them to people building and running the trains. Just as many, if not more, jobs could be created by using those tax dollars to pay people to dig holes and fill them up.

High-speed rail would cut “greenhouse gas emissions by 3.5 million tons annually.” Not so much; when the full life-cycle costs of building the line are included, and ridership projections adjusted down to something that is realistic, it would lead to almost no reduction in emissions.

The sad thing is that the group that put out this video, the California Alliance for Jobs, once promoted sensible policies and opposed “lopsided investment in transit and smart growth schemes,” as one of its officials told me in 2001. Now it appears all the group cares about is getting its share of the pie.


8 thoughts on “Idiots Didn’t Build California

  1. Frank

    I’m so tired of this “grit” fad. It’s taking over education, along with rigor. (Because learning should be something that is unpleasant and hard to endure.)

    When inane fads spread from one government sector to another, you know the disease is winning.

  2. Frank

    “Now it appears all the group cares about is getting its share of the pie.”

    And it’s a small group with only a handful on staff. It’s headed by Jim Earp, a lobbyist with heavy ties to construction unions. Of course he’s part of the parasitic, transfer-seeking economy. He pulled in six figures for his lobbying work alone; undoubtedly pulled in high five figures or low sixes on the California Transportation Commission.

  3. herdgadfly

    The California Alliance For Jobs is a “Labor-Management Committee” authorized under the Labor Management Cooperation Act of 1978. What that means is that it is a union organization which can get funds from voluntary employer contributions made to the organization. Employers get direct credits against the California Prevailing Wage Law for contributions made and the Alliance for Jobs Committee has no duty or obligation to employers.

    If The Antiplanner was told that CAFJ opposed “lopsided investment in transit and smart growth schemes,” you were lied to.

  4. MJ

    This a last, desperate gasp from the HSR hucksters. They can no longer hang their hats on the technical merits of their project, since their holes in their “business plan” have been exposed and they now seem to be courting lawsuits from environmental groups and interested landowners along the line. They have resorted to banal slogans and appealing to people’s basest sensibilities. It won’t work. The tide of public opinion is swinging against this project, even among some of those who previously supported it. Triumphalism and monument-building no longer holds as much sway among the electorate as it used to. Pity them.

  5. Dan

    “They said the Central Valley Water Project would bankrupt the state.” Lo and behold, the state is nearly bankrupt.

    CVP is a federal project. That subsidy bankrupts all of us. The SWP is also subsidized, and not sure why a private consortium would take the risk to build it.


Leave a Reply