Posted by: Debby Durkee | November 1, 2010

We cannot afford these people any longer.

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We cannot afford these people any longer.

Back before the crash of 2008, Americans used to just shake their heads at the absurdity of liberals and their ridiculous ideas. But now, shaking our heads isn’t enough. We must disabuse them of their insanity and their refusal to take a hard look at their utopian dreams and realize that America and Americans cannot afford their ideas any longer. We literally cannot afford these people any longer. Case in point: High-speed rail. This is from Robert Samuelson at http://realclearpolitics.com.

Somehow, it’s become fashionable to think that high-speed trains connecting major cities will help “save the planet.” They won’t. They’re a perfect example of wasteful spending masquerading as a respectable social cause. They would further burden already overburdened governments and drain dollars from worthier programs — schools, defense, research.

Let’s suppose that the Obama administration gets its wish to build high-speed rail systems in 13 urban corridors. The administration has already committed $10.5 billion, and that’s just a token down payment. California wants about $19 billion for an 800-mile track from Anaheim to San Francisco. Constructing all 13 corridors could easily approach $200 billion. Most (or all) of that would have to come from government at some level. What would we get for this huge investment?

…Here’s what we wouldn’t get: any meaningful reduction in traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, air travel, oil consumption or imports. Nada, zip…

…If all of (daily air passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles) hypothetically switched to trains, the total number of daily airline passengers, about 2 million, would drop only 2.5 percent. Any fuel savings would be less than that; even trains need energy…

And, what about inner city train travel?

…In the Northeast Corridor, with about 45 million people, Amtrak’s daily ridership is 28,500. If its trains shut down tomorrow, no one except the affected passengers would notice…

…Suburbanization after World War II made most rail travel impractical. From 1950 to 2000, the share of the metropolitan population living in central cities fell from 56 percent to 32 percent, report UCLA economists Leah Platt Boustan and Allison Shertzer in a new study. Jobs moved too. Trip origins and destinations are too dispersed to support most rail service.

Only in places (Europe, Asia) with greater population densities is high-speed rail potentially attractive. Even there, most of the existing high-speed trains don’t earn “enough revenue to cover both their construction and operating costs,” the Congressional Research Service report said. The major exceptions seem to be the Tokyo-Osaka and Paris-Lyon lines.

President Obama calls high-speed rail essential “infrastructure” when it’s actually old-fashioned “pork barrel.” The interesting question is why it retains its intellectual respectability. The answer, it seems, is willful ignorance. People prefer fashionable make-believe to distasteful realities. They imagine public benefits that don’t exist and ignore costs that do.

Samuelson goes on to showcase California, in as bad a budget crunch as any state in the union, the powers that be in that state still cling (not to their guns) but to their utopian idea of high-speed rail. California wants the feds (that’s you and me in the rest of flyover country) to pay half of their estimated cost of $42.6 billion for their latest pipe dream.

All this would further mortgage California’s future with more debt and, conceivably, subsidies to keep the trains running. And for what? In 2030, high-speed rail trains would provide only about 4 percent of California’s inter-regional trips…

…It’s a triumph of politically expedient fiction over logic and evidence. With governments everywhere pressed for funds, how can anyone justify a program whose main effect will simply be to make matters worse?

So, just keep all of this in mind if you live in a state that is touting high-speed rail between cities. The state never gets what they pay for, and benefits the few at the continued debt of the many. We cannot afford this any longer. Liberals and their schemes are bankrupting the nation. Please read all of Samuelson here: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/11/01/high-speed_pork_107785.html

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