Wednesday, September 14, 2011

When smart people are dumb 1

Photo by Brigitte Lacombe

Even smart people look dumb when they write about issues before doing any homework. Adam Gopnik in the Sept. 12 New Yorker:

But the crucial point is that this is the result of active choice, not passive indifference: people who don't want high-speed rail are not just indifferent to fast trains. They are offended by fast trains, as the New York Post is offended by bike lanes and open-air plazas: these things give too much pleasure to those they hate. They would rather have exhaust and noise and traffic jams, if such things sufficiently annoy liberals.

Gopnik, who apparently sees himself as a Big Thinker, is faking it here, since he clearly doesn't know what he's talking about. The well-informed critics of the California high-speed rail project are only offended by a stupid, very costly project undertaken at great public expense that could bankrupt the State of California. 

Martin Engel at High Speed Train Talk takes no offense at fast trains.

Nor does Mark Powell at Against California High Speed Rail.

Nor do the folks at Community Coalition on High Speed Rail, especially Alain Enthoven, William Grindley, and William Warren, who wrote the best critique of this boondoggle last year, The Financial Risks of California's High-Speed Rail Project. They followed that up with studies on different aspects of this stupid project that's beloved by liberals, who seem determined to verify the right-wing portrayal of them as reckless squanderers of taxpayers' money.

In fact Grindley, like me, is a Democrat who's ashamed of his party for pushing this project. Naturally, San Francisco Democrats and their representatives are behind the project. Fortunately, the state will be saved from financial catastrophe by Republicans in Washington who are going to cut off the crucial federal money for the project.

Governor Brown may also be about to pull the plug on the project, as reported in the L.A. Times:

Brown recently appointed two financial experts to the rail authority's board and charged them with conducting a fresh examination. A Brown advisor, speaking on condition that he not be identified, said a "steep erosion in confidence" in the authority has led to concerns about the project. The authority had planned to issue a new business plan in October to support the upcoming bond issue, but that plan may be delayed by Brown's review, he said.

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