Wednesday, March 23, 2016

BART falls apart

Randal O'Toole takes a critical look at BART's problems:

...In response to these problems, BART sent out a series of less-than-apologetic tweets to its customers listing a variety of excuses for its failings. “Planners in 1996 had no way of predicting the tech boom---track redundancy, new tunnels & transbay tubes are decades-long projects,” says one. “BART was built to transport far fewer people, and much of our system has reached the end of its useful life. This is our reality,” adds another.

The agency is apparently arguing that it needs more money, but it’s really making the case against a rail transit technology that can’t quickly respond to changes in demand because it is to expensive and time-consuming to expand. 

For example, instead of doing basic maintenance or expanding capacity where it was needed, BART–--like the Washington Metro–--decided to build new lines that aren’t needed and that will only add to its long-term maintenance woes.

One such unnecessary line is the $6.5-billion route to San Jose, which won’t be completed before 2025 and is redundant anyway as San Jose already has commuter trains to San Francisco. Another is the Oakland Airport Connector, a 3.2-mile rail line that cost half a billion dollars and charges $6 fares while buses on the same route cost only $2.10...

Rob's comment:


The Molenbeek problem

Theodore Dalrymple was in a taxi in Paris shortly after the terrorist attack in Brussels:

...Our driver was Muslim of North African origin. He was obviously a decent man, obliging and honest. He was furious at Uber, which had halved the value of his costly taxi licence. Whatever the abstract economic arguments of the case, it was difficult not to sympathize with him as a man. 

But it was the terrorists who exercised him more. “They are all criminals,” he said...“It has nothing to do with religion,” he said. “They go straight from crime to terrorism.”

I thought it best, in order not to upset a man whom I liked, to say that this was a partial truth only: that Islam was not the whole explanation, certainly, but neither could it be entirely excluded from it. After all, impoverished and unemployed Christian Congolese, of whom there are many in Belgium, are not blowing themselves up in the airport and the metro. (emphasis added) 

“We are reaping what we have sown,” he continued, “with all our interference in Libya and Mali.” Again, I thought the connection a tenuous one and, if it existed at all, not at all flattering to Muslim immigrants. “And how can they have let Molenbeek develop where extremism could so obviously flourish?”

How indeed? But what to do about it now that it existed? On my visit to that quarter of Brussels a few years ago, I could see the dangers clearly enough. People like Salah Abdeslam, the terrorist arrested there a few days ago, would swim like a fish in the sea there, to use a Maoist metaphor. Between the sympathetic locals, and the rest of the population—whom they could intimidate into silence—it would be easy for them to hide. This social world is impenetrable to the forces of the state. 

My informant told me that the Belgian government is unable to collect taxes from businesses there—though it is, apparently, able to distribute social security.

How do you stop ghettos like Molenbeek from forming, and what do you do about them once they have formed? The driver had no doubts: you force the residents to live elsewhere. Conceptually easy. In practice, difficult. 

The European Court of Human Rights recently ruled against Germany, which sought to do exactly that. Having accepted a million Syrian refugees and immigrants, the Germans wanted to prevent the development of Muslim ghettos by dispersing these immigrants throughout the country. 

The Court ruled that this was against their fundamental human rights, among which is the right to form several—or many—Molenbeeks.

See also Tony Blair on "flabby liberalism."


Newsom's ex supports torture

Newsom and Guilfoyle

Lieutenant Governor Newsom's ex-wife, a Fox News commentator, endorses torture:

Kimberly Guilfoyle then advocated for changing laws “to be able to do what it takes” to stop terror, and incorrectly stated that waterboarding only became illegal under the Obama administration.

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"Don’t watch this if you were hoping to have an upbeat day"

Thanks to Slate.