Tuesday, February 22, 2011

NY Times editor doesn't read the NY Times

The NY Times editorial Sunday scolded Florida's Governor Scott for rejecting federal money for high-speed rail:

There is no sound economic justification for the decision by Gov. Rick Scott of Florida to reject $2.4 billion in federal financing for the vital Tampa-to-Orlando high-speed rail project. Political pandering to his Tea Party supporters is the only explanation we can come up with...High-speed trains are booming as basic necessities for the nation’s global competitors in Europe and China...The Obama administration laced its disappointment with notice that Florida’s financing---and economic benefits---will be shifted to other states where the demand is high. California and New York are lining up.

Actually, you don't have to look very far to come up with a "sound economic" explanation. Last month Wendell Cox and Robert W. Poole explained why Governor Scott was worried about accepting federal money for the project: Florida taxpayers would have been responsible for the inevitable cost overruns for construction and the operating expenses after the project was built. High-speed rail advocates routinely downplay both construction costs and the operating expenses of these projects. (See the recent "A Train to Nowhere but Bankruptcy" explaining why Governor Brown should follow Governor Scott's example.)

Odd that the Times editorial cites China's HSR as an example to be emulated, when three days earlier the Times reported that China has major financial problems with its system.

Don't the editors read their own paper?

Thanks to High-Speed Train Talk for the links.

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27 Comments:

At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mirkirimi is running for Sheriff. Start kissing up to Ed Lee - maybe you will be appointed the next D5 Supervisor!

 
At 5:15 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I suppose Mirkarimi can't do much damage as sheriff. He sure has done a lot of damage as supervisor.

 
At 5:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm moving to D5 with my carpetbag to fill the power vacuum!

First order of business? Removing all parking on Divis for a bike lane!

 
At 9:34 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

There's no "power vacuum" in District 5 and there won't be unless Mirkarimi is elected sheriff in November, and that's not a sure thing. The Murk's support for Josh Wolf and for a new trial for cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal make him vulnerable to an opponent more acceptable to the law enforcement community. But his candidacy for a citywide office make it possible for city voters to also weigh his support for Critical Mass, the Bicycle Plan, and other anti-car city policies. In short, the Murk has a lot of political baggage that will complicate his campaign for sheriff.

 
At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He'll be the only person with reasonable name recognition running for Sheriff, as such he'll get 70%+ of the vote. Mark my words.

50% of the voters won't even marginally research this race. Case and point - Scott Walker.

 
At 11:41 AM, Blogger Mikesonn said...

Because really, it's all about the bikes. So if Mirkarimi doesn't get elected, it's ipso facto a vote against bikes.

 
At 12:24 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Who's Scott Walker? On the Murk's campaign for sheriff: It's very early, and the filing deadline isn't until August. Murk has name recognition, but that's a mixed blessing, since his default image is that of an ultra-progressive. All the POA needs is a single candidate that the law enforcement community can unite behind to oppose the Murk, who personifies "progressive" policies a lot of people dislike.

 
At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Murk has name recognition, but that's a mixed blessing, since his default image is that of an ultra-progressive.

Carole Migden has name recognition, but it's a mixed blessing as she was involved in a multi-car crash on the freeway, stemming from her weaving and driving erratically, after which she got out of the car and screamed "I'M A SENATOR". She shifted the blame in every direction she could but on herself. I assumed her career was over.

This certainly did not help her in her re-election campaign vs Mark Leno, but Leno was a former Supervisor with good name recognition himself.

But in the last DCCC election, Migden was one of the top 3 vote getters, despite her highly publicized erratic behavior.

50% of the voters don't know squat. One might posit that Leeland Yee's position on Shark Fin Soup will be damaging. Reality - maybe 10% of the people going to the polls will even know about SharkFinGate. But they will have heard of Leeland Yee.

Mirkirimi has a built in 30% advantage over "Some Dude"

 
At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob - what does this have to do with the New York Times?

 
At 3:59 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I don't think the DCCC represents anything but the left wing of the Democratic Party, and I say that as a Democrat, although a more conservative one. City voters voted against public power, legalizing prostitution, and dumping JROTC out of city schools, and I bet they won't like Mirkarimi's support for Critical Mass, either. Whether city voters become aware of these issues---and his past as a left-wing militant---is up to the campaign of whoever runs against the Murk.

 
At 8:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does the Sheriff do anyway? Nothing. We should talk Mirkarimi out of running. Though the salary is higher, maybe he's just greedy.

 
At 5:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are anti-HSR and anti-public union and fairly well read but don't know of Scott Walker, the patron saint of killing HSR and union busting ... And you expect that more than 25% of the SF electorate even knows what a "progressive" is?

 
At 6:46 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Just kidding, Anon! Walker is the Governor of Wisconsin and is trying to bust the unions there. I'm not anti-public union or anti-union at all. I'm rooting for the unions in Wisconsin and everywhere else, especially when their collective bargaining rights are challenged. Clearly the benefits some public employee unions have won for their members aren't sustainable. Walker is trying to use that as a justification for breaking the union, which is unacceptable.

High-speed rail is a separate issue. True, these Republican governors find it easy to reject whatever Obama is offering, but they also understand that the Feds may give them money now for HSR, but the states are left dealing with the inevitable cost overruns and stuck subsidizing the systems forever if/when they are built.

It's just a poor way to invest limited transportation dollars. Muni has a $21 million deficit, Caltrain has a $30 million deficit, and the Obama administration gives California HSR $624 million.

 
At 8:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

easy way to fix MUNI's deficit. shut it down.

 
At 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haters are gonna hate. We welcome their hatred.

 
At 11:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting story, but what it doesn't cover is the most obvious accompaniment to high speed rail. These folks here have it figured out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTlCIrflE4o

High speed rail AND bikes make a fast commute strategy.

 
At 10:34 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Haters are gonna hate. We welcome their hatred."

Anonymous links the only important pro-high-speed rail blog in California on a Harris poll showing public support for HSR in the state. When we take a closer look at that poll, we find that the support is a lot softer than Cruikshank wants us to think: Of the "whopping" 70% of supporters of CHSR in the poll, 35% "strongly" support it, and 35% "somewhat" support HSR in California. More squishiness is shown in the 16% who are "not sure." Add the "somewhat" supporters to the "not sure" and you get 51% of respondents whose support is not very firm.

As the facts and the realities sink in for Californians, when they have to choose between, say, money for schools and money for a HSR project that has demonstrated nothing but the incompetence of the HSR Authority, I suspect public opinion will be dramatically different.

Recall too that last November SF voters decisively rejected Jeff Adachi's proposition that would have required city workers to chip in a lot more for their retirement and their medical benefits to avoid bankrupting the city. But that expressed public opinion didn't make the problem Adachi was addressing go away. Mayor Lee is conferring frantically with city unions and Adachi himself to try to come up with an agreement to deal with the realities. Otherwise, Adachi will put another measure on the ballot that I suspect will do a lot better this time around.

 
At 11:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seller's remorse

 
At 12:46 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You keep citing news sources, but that's not the same as weighing the merits of high-speed rail, like the analysis in this report. Regardless of what politicians may say or do, the facts show that HSR is simply a bad investment for US taxpayers, which they should understand sooner rather than later and wasting billions on this dumb, "progressive" boondoggle.

 
At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are plenty of reports showing the benefits of HSR. Would you please debunk them? In the absence of said explicit rebuttal, your position is not solid in the least.

 
At 2:49 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Then why don't you give us some links to these reports? I'm already familiar with the CHSR site and Cruikshank's site. Nothing remotely convincing on either of those.

 
At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Nothing remotely convincing on either of those."

Thank you for your detailed analysis.

 
At 3:28 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Why don't you give us your analysis of those sites? I just don't find them remotely plausible. The critical pieces I post here offer a more realistic sense of the project's prospects.

The official California HSR site provides, by definition, the official, happy-talk version of the project, while Cruikshank's blog does the same more aggressively but with similarly unconvincing results. Neither site deals forthrightly with the lack of construction capital for the system, not to mention the official inflation of future ridership and low-balling operational expenses if/when the sytem is built, which is increasingly unlikely.

 
At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why don't you give us your analysis of those sites?"

Why don't you? The status quo is the project is going. The plaintiff bears the burden of proof.

 
At 9:37 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Those sites provide the rationale for the system---and some links to documents on the CHSR site---but are otherwise of little use. On the contrary, its the California high-speed rail project that has failed to prove itself; the authority can't even tell us where it's going to get the money to build the system. State Treasurer Lockyer has admitted that the bonds authorized in 2008 are not marketable.

More than two years after that election, there are still no private investors in CHSR because the authorizing legislation forbids the state from subsidizing the system, which is one of the reasons voters approved it. No profit for private investors, no private investment. CHSR is a dead project walking, only waiting for the governor or the state legislators to kill it officially.

 
At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Dr Pochi said...

Wendell Cox and Robert W. Poole HATE rail. They'll cook up anything to try and make it look bad and I'm really tired of hearing from them.

That said, Florida is NOT an ideal place for it. Florida is too far gone to try and save from the strip mall death spiral it's in.

California, on the other hand is ideal for high speed rail, and we should pursue it full speed ahead. The benefits are so obvious, it kind of blows my mind to hear people pabble and babble about it. Even if it ends up costing $200 a ticket to get to LA, it will still compete with Air Travel with ease.

No brainer. Get that train built!!!

 
At 12:15 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

It's only a "no-brainer" if you refuse to use your brains. No one knows where the state, with a $25 billion deficit, is even going to get the money to build this system, not to mention to pay for running it if/when it's built. For openers, Doc, you should read this and this.

 

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