Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Business as usual in California

Here is California Governor Jerry Brown proposing to put a tax hike (mainly on "the rich") on the California ballot.  Here is the California high-speed rail authority admitting that HSR will cost $98.5 billion (for starters and a couple hundred percent over their previous estimate).  And here is the same Gov. Brown endorsing the project.  These three events are apparently not inconsistent. 

I expect that some have even convinced themselves that this is all "good policy"; they may also have concluded it is good politics -- and they may have scrambled the two.  Costs are "benefits" because politicians want to be seen "creating jobs".  If there is a green spin, all the better.  Construction and union and environmental interests hold hands.  (The first two have solid self-serving interests in HSR, but environmentalists who believe that HSR will be good for the environment are amazingly deluded.)

This is all old stuff.  But chickens have now come home to roost in Europe.  I had thought (silly me) that the message would be seen here too, but we are seemingly not there yet.  Our politicians still cannot say "no". 

There are street riots on Athens, S & P downgrade threats, and we have all seen news clips of the Italian Labor Minister Elsa Fornero breaking down in tears.  But in California it is business as usual.


Mark Perry suggests an alternative to Amtrak, perhaps even HSR.