Local Blogs

By Paul Losch

High Speed Rasputin

Uploaded: Nov 30, 2011

It took a great deal of effort by certain Russians to kill Rasputin, the minion of the final Czar of Russia. The guy did not go down easily or peacefully, nor does that appear to be the case with High Speed Rail in California.

I shudder to think how much money has been wasted and will continue to be wasted studying this thing to death. The clowns at HSR continue to produce, at taxpayers expense, fatuous analysis which is shot down, at taxpayers expense, by reasoned experts who have no skin in the game except their reputations, as objective observers about the HSR proposal in this state. (Nothing wrong with the concept of HSR. But like many things in life, there is a time and a place.)

Let us simplify the complexity here. There are 3 issues around HSR:

1. Spending decision

2. Financing decision

3. Policy decision

I do not want to get into the legalities and technicalities. To my way of thinking, that is just jumping into the mud wrestling match instead of looking at this thing with basic common sense.

I also find tiresome that those who find fault with CA HSR being accused of NIMBYism. There are plenty of things about this flawed concept to kill it without the NIMBY moniker.

So, point by point:

1. Spending decision: is this a worthwhile expenditure? The cost/benefit analysis has been shaky at best, and has gotten worse with each iteration. Change the folks on the HSR management, get rid of the people (such as Kopp and Diridon) who sold this pig in a poke to CA voters in 2008. It still is a pig, and it even lacks lipstick.


2. Financing decision: to quote a Dan Hicks song from more years ago than I care to admit, "Where's the Money?" Assume for a moment that this was a viable project, which it is not. How will it be paid for? Non-profit organizations are struggling right now as their supporters have had to reduce their support. This proposed new "non-profit" organization has ludicrous and poorly thought through expectations of how it will work economically to persuade taxpayers and private investors to pay for this boondoggle. Dirty little secret? No private investors will materialize, they know what a turkey this thing is.

3. Policy decision: is this what is the best use of funds? No. If the funds were applied to local transit development, where most of the trips take place, it would have substantially more benefit than would an HSR artery between our part of the world and the southland of California.

My suggestion is that the HSR people propose a tax hike on Californians to pay for this directly. That will bring out another irrational group, the "Jarvis" people, and this thing will be put to sleep once and for all.