Monday, February 06, 2012

The NY Times and the U.N. high-speed rail plot

Wu Hong/European Pressphoto Agency

As I've pointed out before, editors at the NY Times support high-speed rail in spite of the work on the issue by their own reporters. Their pro-HSR bias leaked into a front-page story last Friday:

In Maine, the Tea Party-backed Republican governor canceled a project to ease congestion along the Route 1 corridor after protesters complained it was part of the United Nations plot. Similar opposition helped doom a high-speed train line in Florida.

The governor of Florida rejected federal money for high-speed rail not because he was worried about a U.N. conspiracy, but because he understood that the taxpayers of his state would have been responsible for the inevitable cost-overruns in building the system and to pay to operate it once it was built. Unfortunately, the Governor of California doesn't seem to understand that. 

The Times linked a backgrounder that refers to that reality:

The year before, newly elected Republican governors in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin turned down federal money their Democratic predecessors had won for new rail routes, lest their states have to cover most of the costs for trains that would draw few riders.

Careless in allowing its bias to contaminate news stories, the Times is famous for being fussy about trivia with its copy editing: In a story yesterday ("The 2016 Election, Already Upon Us"), the Senator from Massachusetts was pedantically called "Scott P. Brown," and we were reminded that "John A. Boehner" is "the speaker of the House." Get the big things wrong but be sure to include those middle initials!

And why the comma after "Election" in the title? Not to mention the clunky "Upon" instead of plain old "on."

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At 2:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The year before, newly elected Republican governors in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin turned down federal money their Democratic predecessors had won for new rail routes, lest their states have to cover most of the costs for trains that would draw few riders.

Translation: These trains can only be paid for via tax hikes on the wealthiest 1% and mostly benefit the other 99%, those who have trouble enough affording air travel now, let alone as fuel prices increase. Gas prices are starting the year at January records.

Not only would people like the Koch brothers be called upon to do some of the heavy lifting to pay for the trains, their personal fortunes are derived from producing gasoline and jet fuel. Double Whammy.

Easy answer - pay off Walker, Kasich, and Scott. They made those "tough decisions" and now have record low approval ratings. Walker is facing a recall election. Kasich forced through a union busting bill which is now the subject of a referendum. Scott, corrupt to begin with, is hated by his state.

We DO have the money to build and run the train. It's just in the pockets of very wealthy people who will do ANYTHING they can, including outright bribery, to keep that money in their pockets.

At 10:39 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Only in the abstract, oxygen-free environment inhabited by lefties can the California high-speed rail project be paid for by tax hikes, on the rich or anyone else.

You defenders of HSR can only argue on this abstract level, since any close examination of this particular project shows how implausible it was from the beginning. As Flyvjberg et al showed, the CHSR project followed the mega-project script: sell the project based on inflated ridership numbers, while low-balling construction and operational expenses. Then, once the project is underway, politicians will be reluctant to cancel it so that the original investment won't be wasted.

In short, the original
cost/benefit analysis selling this project to the public wasn't merely mistaken factually: it was a lie calculated to get the project going and make it politically unstoppable.

Every high-speed rail system in the world is subsidized by taxpayers of those countries. Here, it's not the US taxpayers who would be on the hook for billions of dollars but the taxpayers of California, a state that's already bankrupt.

The problem supporters of CHSR have is that 2008's Prop. 1A prohibits any taxpayer subsidy, which is why the CHSR Authority maintains the fantasy that someday private investors are going to take an interest in the project. Since investors can't get any guarantee of a return on their investment---aka, a taxpayers' subsidy---they have shown little interest in the project.

At 3:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a state that's already bankrupt.

The state is not bankrupt. The citizens of the state have plenty of money. We just need to raise taxes. Simple.

At 4:11 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"The citizens of the state" now oppose the high-speed rail project. Governor Brown undermining his sales pitch asking voters to raise taxes on themselves as long as he supports this unpopular, expensive project.

At 7:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That poll and 99 cents would buy you a Madonna song.

At 11:10 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Could you be more specific about what's wrong with the poll? No, of course you can't. You're faking it.


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