California governor Jerry Brown is an ardent supporter of the state’s high-speed rail project and as this report shows, he has now come up with a new reason for it. “There’s a lot of old people who shouldn’t be driving,” he recently told some union bosses in Sacramento. “They should be sitting in a nice train car working on their iPad, having a martini.” People of all ages have a problem with that.
The so-called “bullet train” might link cities but won’t take anybody to the local pharmacy, a hospital, Costco, or a high-school football game. California’s high-speed rail will take riders where the government thinks they should go but it’s primary purpose has nothing to do with transportation.
High-speed rail is designed to shore up the prospects of California congressmen by spending money in their districts. That’s why the first stretch of the system, which is supposed to link San Francisco and Los Angeles, is slated for the central valley near Fresno, not exactly the primary hub of activity in the state.
The state’s High Speed Rail Authority serves well as soft landing spot for washed-up politicians. For example, governor Brown appointed board member Lynn Schenck, a former congresswoman who also served as chief of staff for California governor Gray Davis. The Authority also provides a landing spot for state employees of dubious background. Carey Renee Moore, a convicted embezzler, got a job with the High Speed Rail Authority, which covered it up in typical style as a “personnel matter.
High Speed Rail is also a mechanism to reward politicians’ support network. Under project labor agreements and measures such as Davis Bacon, all the work will go to union contractors. A full 93.3 percent of private-sector workers are not union members. They can get no piece of the action even though their taxes support the project.
High Speed Rail also serves as a legacy project for Jerry Brown but it won’t take people where they want to go or get “old people” out of their cars. It is supposed to cost $68 billion but the true cost, in the style of the Bay Bridge, would surely be much higher. That’s why the ruling class is riding the bullet train for all it’s worth.