We had to cut short a post of a couple of days ago regarding California's high-speed rail system and the absurdity of the "alternate" use of the same for fear of sending our readers into a irreversible state of depression.
Having had a couple of days of rest and recovery, let's tread forward together in a slow and orderly fashion and pick up where we left off at the same linked article from the L.A. Times.
Certainly, Jerry Brown is under pressure from Big Labor, Big Green and Big Construction to begin building this monstrosity but what is the form of the pressure he is receiving from Washington D.C. and their partial funding of the project? In response to changing construction plans so that the high-speed rail system could be built first in urban areas* where it might actually be used instead of the Cental Valley:
At a recent hearing by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in Washington, key California legislators asked if the construction plan could be changed. But Joseph Szabo, the Obama administration's chief of the Federal Railroad Administration, said California has no flexibility to rethink the project.
"The ability to shift dollars is not there," he said.
Kind of like interior design decisions that cannot be changed when you made the decision to let the in-laws help out just a little too much with the down payment on the home. That skin in the game that was so welcome at the time has now become a mill stone.
Tax-dodging billionaire, Warren Buffet has been in the news of late for the windfall he stands to gain from shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline project as oil from the North Dakota fields (now the nation's fourth biggest oil producer and climbing) will have to be shipped southward on old slow freight trains. Burlington-Northern trains. Burlington-Northern trains that happen to be owned by Berkshire-Hathaway, Buffet's firm.
Now, back to California:
Roelof van Ark** , the project's chief executive, insists the bullet-train corridor will not become a white elephant.
He has conceded, however, that re-routing Amtrak would be relatively expensive for the benefit.
The federal government has set aside $108 million to link the high-speed segment to the track used by Amtrak, which it shares with freight hauler Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad. High-speed rail officials say that's enough for the job.
But a number of rail experts said that more money will be needed to integrate the two systems, and it's unclear how the financially struggling Amtrak system would pay any difference.
(as if you needed the italics)
We almost feel sorry for Jerry Brown. We thought his pragmatist-centrist I'm just too old to give a damn campaign approach was brilliant and would strike a tone with indies and moderates. But here we are: he has allowed himself to be painted into a corner by a progessive coalition of labor unions, greenies, big city mayors and a corrupt adminstration pursuing a two-pronged attack of their unsustainable green agenda and a crony capitalism that is staggering in both its size and sheer audacity to build the greatest boondoggle known to mankind and which will ultimately define his political legacy.
* Also a dubious plan as San Francisco and L.A. both have light rail systems making high-speed choo-choos in those same areas completely redundant.
** Our German scientists are better than their German scientists. Sorry, it was just too easy.