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  #21  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2011, 1:51 AM
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the koch brothers have appeared
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  #22  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2011, 2:29 AM
Ghost of Econgrad Ghost of Econgrad is offline
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the koch brothers have appeared
No Web, the silent Majority of the United States, now called the Tea Party has appeared. Did you miss the last election?
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  #23  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2011, 2:32 AM
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March 1, 2011
American high speed rail plans an expensive mirage
Filed under: Economics,Government,Technology,USA — Tags: BarackObama, Debt, EminentDomain, HighSpeedRail — Nicholas @ 12:35

Philip Klein looks at the faulty notions behind the Obama administration’s push for high speed railways:

To most Americans, the passing reference to California was likely an afterthought, lost amid all the dreamy rhetoric of rebuilding the nation. But upon closer inspection, the state’s proposed high-speed rail system serves as a perfect example of the gap between the promise of transformational liberalism and the reality of big government. Taxpayers everywhere should pay attention, because the project has already been granted $3.2 billion in federal funds, mostly through Obama’s economic stimulus package — and its backers hope to gobble up billions more over the next decade.

The $43 billion transportation project to link Los Angeles to San Francisco with a bullet train by 2020 would be considered grandiose during the plushest of times, yet it’s being pursued during an era when governments at all levels are mired in deep fiscal crises. The plan has been subject to a series of scathing reports by independent analysts, raising concerns about everything from its cost estimates to its business model. The University of California at Berkeley has questioned its lofty ridership projections. And even the Washington Post has editorialized against it.

It’s a huge wodge of cash from a government that’s already struggling with record deficits, handed to state governments who are in many cases even worse off financially, yet must match the federal funds or lose the subsidy.

Calling it a “system” is misleading, as none of the currently imagined lines would inter-connect. Nobody seems to be worried that there will not be enough passenger traffic to justify the enormous acquisition, construction, and operational costs for these train services.

“The cost projections are overly optimistic,” Wendell Cox, a public policy consultant and co-author of a critical report for the libertarian Reason Foundation, says. “The ridership projections are absolutely crazy. The thing will have no impact on highway traffic and will have little or no impact on the amount of planes in the air. This project really defines the term ‘boondoggle.’”

BRINGING HIGH-SPEED RAIL to America has been a decades-long dream for liberals, who have long envied Europe’s extensive rail system. Building a high-speed rail network, they hope, would move the nation away from automobiles and reduce pollution. It has the added bonus of being a massive, centrally planned public works project. The problem is just because rail has worked elsewhere, that doesn’t mean it makes sense here.

“We’re not like Spain or France, where the population densities are a lot higher, and the cities are not as spread out,” Ken Orski, a former transportation official in the Nixon and Ford administrations and publisher of the newsletter Innovation Briefs, says. “So you can connect cities like Barcelona and Madrid or Paris and Marseilles easily.”

The best place to build a high speed rail system for the US would be the Boston-New York-Washington corridor (aka “Bosnywash”, for the assumed urban agglomeration that would occur as the cities reach toward one another). It has the necessary population density to potentially turn an HSR system into a practical, possibly even profitable, part of the transportation solution. The problem is that without an enormous eminent domain land-grab to cheat every land-owner of the fair value of their property, it just can’t be done. Buying enough contiguous sections of land to connect these cities would be so expensive that scrapping and replacing the entire navy every year would be a bargain in comparison.

The American railway system is built around freight: passenger traffic is a tiny sliver of the whole picture. Ordinary passenger trains cause traffic and scheduling difficulties because they travel at higher speeds, but require more frequent stops than freight trains, and their schedules have to be adjusted to passenger needs (passenger traffic peaks early to mid-morning and early to mid-evening). The frequency of passenger trains can “crowd out” the freight traffic the railway actually earns money on.

Most railway companies prefer to avoid having the complications of carrying passengers at all — that’s why Amtrak (and VIA Rail in Canada) was set up in the first place, to take the burden of money-losing passenger services off the shoulders of deeply indebted railways. Even after the new entity lopped off huge numbers of passenger trains from its schedule, it couldn’t turn a profit on the scaled-down services it was offering.

Ordinary passenger trains can, at a stretch, share rail with freight traffic, but high speed trains cannot. At higher speeds, the actual construction of the track has to change to deal with the physical problem of safely guiding the fast passenger trains along the rail. Signalling must also change to suit the far-higher speeds — and the matching far-longer safe braking distances. High speed rail lines cannot be interrupted with grade crossings, for the safety of passengers and bystanders, so additional bridges and tunnels must be built to avoid bringing road vehicles and pedestrians too close to the trains.

In other words, a high speed railway line is far from being just a faster version of what we already have: it would have to be built separately, to much higher standards of construction.

Getting back to the California HSR line; it goes from A to B on this map:

Okay, you think, at least Fresno will get some snazzy slick rail service . . . except this section will be built but not operated until further connecting sections are built . . . at a later date. Maybe. It will be the track, including elevated sections through Fresno, and the physical right-of-way, but no electrical system to power the trains; but that’s fine, because the budget doesn’t include any actual trains.

http://quotulatiousness.ca/blog/2011...ensive-mirage/
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  #24  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2011, 4:34 AM
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http://dc.streetsblog.org/2011/03/11...on-hsr-action/
Quote:
What Boondoggle? Private Sector Wants in on HSR Action

by Angie Schmitt on March 11, 2011

President Obama’s proposed high speed rail initiative would have the US embarking on the biggest infrastructure project since the interstate highway system. And while the significance of this effort — and the need for more sustainable transportation options — may be lost on a few cranky governors, it is not going unnoticed by the private sector. Indeed, while governors in Florida, Wisconsin, and Ohio have made hay about high-speed rail being a “boondoggle” that will cost their states millions, private investors at home and abroad are lining up to cash in.

High-speed rail projects from California to Florida have attracted the interest of investors from the Bank of Japan to Goldman Sachs, according to multiple sources.

The California High Speed Rail Association hopes to attract $10 billion in private investment. Photo: Bakersfield Now

“There really isn’t a day in our office that we’re not approached by a supplier or a provider,” said Rachel Wall of the California High Speed Rail Association.

Private investment in rail was the topic of a House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure hearing this morning, where Congressional representatives looked at ways to better catalyze private involvement to bring rail projects forward.

“Don’t tell me you cannot make money moving passengers by rail,” said Rep. John Mica, who chairs the committee. “We will drag Congress and whoever else kicking and screaming into the 21st century with passenger rail service with private sector participation, one way or another.”

Mica promised the transportation reauthorization bill would contain “robust provisions” to allow for private competition and investment opportunities.

Mica said Europe and Asia abound with stories of successful public private partnerships that make passenger rail service affordable and efficient, and they could bring that efficiency to the U.S.

“I met recently with one of the leading Japanese entrepreneurs in passenger rail service. They’re willing to put up huge amount of investment,” Mica said. “They’re there to gain a return on their investment. That’s a great motivator.”

Andy Kunz, of the US High Speed Rail Association, said that when his organization launched two years ago, they met with 80 countries and they all said they had money to invest.

“It’s such a huge project,” he said. “The physical size of the United States, the wealth levels, the fact that Americans travel probably two or three times more [than many European and Asian nations]; this is a huge market for high-speed rail.”

“There’s serious money to be made here,” he added.

Wall said California is hoping to attract about $10 billion in private investment on the $42 billion project. Project coordinators there have just begun accepting formal expressions of interest from private investors, she said, and California will be holding an industry forum in April to answer questions and present information for prospective investors.

“This gives them an opportunity to put in writing what they have been telling us for years,” she said.

She expects that investment to come in late in the project. State and federal investment is a precursor to private investment she said.

Kunz concurred that private and foreign investment would probably be later-stage and more focused on technology and operating expenses than on infrastructure. The way laws are currently drafted, however, does not easily facilitate private public partnerships, he said. USHSR is working on draft legislation that will help the country take advantage of private investment, and he said they have bi-partisan support.

So where does all this talk of private investment leave Amtrak? The company is supportive of efforts to augment the current rail network, said Amtrak vice president Stephen Gardner at the hearing, but he warned, “The private sector is not a silver bullet that ensures success.” He said Amtrak understands it does not have exclusive right to operate inter-city passenger trains. But he warned that private freight railroads, which have given access rights to Amtrak, might oppose access for other companies.

“We’re not afraid to compete in this market, but on a level playing field,” he added. “Other companies must be subject to the same laws and rules as Amtrak,”

Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department at the AFL-CIO, echoed that sentiment. He said that if entities other than Amtrak get into the game, the wage laws and employee protections guaranteed to Amtrak workers must be applied to all workers in the industry. Otherwise, he said, the playing field won’t be level.

Wytkind said the union is supportive of private sector investments so long as it does not break up Amtrak, which has suffered from inadequate investment. “Too often in Washington, time is wasted creating new programs rather than perfecting the ones we already have,” Wytkind said.

He also cautioned that continued government support is imperative.

“No rail system around the world operates free of subsidy,” Wytkind said. “It’s a fiction.” He questioned the invocation during the hearing of European examples, like the UK, as models of the success of private investment. He says in the UK, rather than increase efficiency, privatization unleashed a torrent of problems and was ultimately scrapped.
Hey Econgrad, I may have missed the post where you answered the question "Why would the security situation be different in the United States because of unions?" Would you mind repeating it?
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  #25  
Old Posted Mar 15, 2011, 8:29 AM
Ghost of Econgrad Ghost of Econgrad is offline
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It's the same clip I linked in my post above. I liked it.

Why would the security situation be different in the United States because of unions? Japanese railway workers are unionized, and the railroads government-owned.
Uh, Japan Railroads are privately owned. Since 1987...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_Railways_Group

and..

http://www.jru7.net/privatization.htm

Get yo facts straight my brotha...
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  #26  
Old Posted Mar 15, 2011, 1:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Ghost of Econgrad View Post
Uh, Japan Railroads are privately owned. Since 1987...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_Railways_Group

and..

http://www.jru7.net/privatization.htm

Get yo facts straight my brotha...

So if I am understanding you correctly, the railroads are privately owned, therefore it is possible for a railroad to be profitable. For if it were not possible, what private company would invest?

And if this is true, the WSJ articles are completely bunk.

BTW, last year there was a French company chomping at the bit to build a HSR network in the U.S. with private financing.

The real story is that Repubs want to privatize everything that States are capable of profiting from. They sell off a State's assets just in time for their retirement from politics, then a Dem comes in and has to raise taxes and suddenly the Dems are the bad guys. It's an endless cycle.
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  #27  
Old Posted Mar 15, 2011, 2:20 PM
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Also, do I really need to bring up all of the external costs associated with widespread highway construction continuing uninhibited? Maybe if we implement a congestion pricing program on all interstate highways that realizes the true costs of such infrastructure use, then perhaps people will finally realize that the rail option is by far more attractive.
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  #28  
Old Posted Mar 15, 2011, 2:57 PM
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I stand corrected, Econgrad...But please remind us once again, why would security at US HSR lines be more complex than security at Japanese lines?
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  #29  
Old Posted Mar 15, 2011, 2:57 PM
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Also, do I really need to bring up all of the external costs associated with widespread highway construction continuing uninhibited? Maybe if we implement a congestion pricing program on all interstate highways that realizes the true costs of such infrastructure use, then perhaps people will finally realize that the rail option is by far more attractive.
Yes, because many still believe that highways "pay for themselves."
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  #30  
Old Posted Mar 15, 2011, 6:45 PM
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No Web, the silent Majority of the United States, now called the Tea Party has appeared. Did you miss the last election?
and again tell me why a tax break for the koch brothers helps anyony but the top 1%?? they have convinced the middle class to in fight for the scraps.
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  #31  
Old Posted Mar 17, 2011, 6:48 AM
Ghost of Econgrad Ghost of Econgrad is offline
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HSR USA lines will have the same TSR type security as Airports.

I had another post here, guess it was deleted?

Last edited by Ghost of Econgrad; Mar 17, 2011 at 10:15 AM.
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  #32  
Old Posted Mar 17, 2011, 7:37 PM
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HSR USA lines will have the same TSR type security as Airports.

I had another post here, guess it was deleted?
Why? Amtrak lines don't have the same TSA type of security as airports.
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  #33  
Old Posted Mar 17, 2011, 8:13 PM
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Why? Amtrak lines don't have the same TSA type of security as airports.
Right, but Amtrak is completely different. With HSR you will get exponentially more riders, large Transportation hubs, mobs of people.
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  #34  
Old Posted Mar 17, 2011, 9:12 PM
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High speed rail in other countries gets heavily used, and doesn't have airport style security checkpoints. Why would it need to be any different in California? Actually I would be surprised if they implemented such tight security measures on any kind of train, high-speed or not.

The risks that TSA security measures help prevent on airplanes aren't as much of a threat for rail transportation.

A train by definition is attached to tracks. Planes, however, can come crashing down onto a city full of people if strict security measures are not enforced to prevent that kind of terrorism.

A train can come to a complete stop and allow people to exit in a minute or two, in case of an emergency. A plane on the other hand might not be able to land right away, so even if there was an emergency on the aircraft the passengers might have to wait 15 minutes or more to exit.
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  #35  
Old Posted Mar 18, 2011, 1:51 AM
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Right, but Amtrak is completely different. With HSR you will get exponentially more riders, large Transportation hubs, mobs of people.
Amtrak already serves the largest transportation hubs in the country--Los Angeles union station, Chicago union station, the Northeast Corridor (which runs the Acela Express, the closest thing in the US to HSR with a top speed of 150 MPH) serving Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC, and pretty much every rail-accessible urban hub in the country. Acela Express doesn't use TSA-style sensors, why would HSR in California use it?

Glad to see that you are confident HSR will get exponentially more riders than Amtrak in its current form (25-30 million people already take Amtrak each year)--on that, you and I agree.

Where are you getting this idea about security? Did you read it somewhere, or are you just assuming that it's going to happen that way because...who knows?
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  #36  
Old Posted Mar 18, 2011, 9:45 AM
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Uh, unlike both of you, I have been on the HSR in Japan. I lived in Japan. You need to go there and see what I mean. It will never happen here. Also, The trains do not touch the tracks, they sort of float above them on a magnetic field. They also exceed 120mph and faster. Blow the tracks in front of it, you have no survivors. I would stick to Jay Walking, I do not believe you know what your talking about when it comes to homeland security issues.

This HSR is a nice fantasy, but the reality is economics. Cars create a higher standard of living. The automobile is the most efficient way of travelling. In emergencies, rubber tires and concrete roads are the best way to get to you. The USA will never live in the boxes they call home in Japan, and no way will be give up our freedom of movement, granted to us by the automobile. You will also see that the $40 billion dollar price tag will move up to $100 billion after a few years. Good luck on selling that to tax payers.
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  #37  
Old Posted Mar 18, 2011, 9:59 AM
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Mar, 17, 2011
Rail boondoggle should be permanently side-tracked
By AMY RIDENOUR

WASHINGTON -- An astute journalist in the 20th century once defined public relations as "organized lying." Keep that in mind as a barrage of newsfeatures and commentaries extolling the benefits of President Obama's high-speed rail initiatives appear in coming days.

Indeed, some of Washington's largest and most ruthless public relations firms are spearheading the effort to revive rail, and no wonder.

Billions of taxpayer dollars are on the table and likely to be picked up by foreign companies like Canada's Bombardier and Germany's Siemens. Unfortunately, the money they'll pocket will come from American taxpayers at a time of record federal deficits and depressingly high unemployment.

Tea party members who consider Obama to be the ultimate spender had that view reinforced when he pledged in his State of the Union address that 80 percent of Americans will have access to bullet trains in a mere 25 years.

A few weeks later, Vice President Joe Biden, one of the few politicians who regularly rides Amtrak, proposed spending $53 billion to get high-speed rail on track.

The Obama administration already has set aside more than $10 billion for super fast rail projects, but many of its partners in state governments are dubious.

Newly elected Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker rejected $810 million for a line between Madison and Milwaukee, noting that motorists already can drive the 79-mile route on state freeways in just over an hour. Walker vigorously campaigned against the project last fall.

Walker's GOP counterpart in Ohio, former U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich, also campaigned against a $400-million federal grant that would have created a high-speed passenger service between Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, his state's three largest cities, wryly observing that its top speed of 79 miles per hour was far too slow to attract many passengers.

Another Republican newcomer, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, is highly skeptical of the federal government's proposed 84-mile high-speed route from the Orlando airport to downtown Tampa - even though the U.S. Department of Transportation has promised to pony up $2.4 billion of $2.7 billion projected price tag.

Even California, where free-spending politicians have long dreamed of an 800-mile super-line from San Francisco to San Diego, is having second thoughts. Sober-minded legislators in Sacramento are beginning to ask how a state staring at a $28 billion deficit by the fall of 2012 can afford to shell out $43 billion for a train where a one-way ticket would cost more than $200 or nearly four times the ticket for an air flight.

Complicating matters, the California fast line ironically has attracted the wrath of normally green San Francisco Bay area residents, who are worried about property values, and Central Valley farmers, who are concerned about crop damage.

The only area in the United States with enough population to make high-speed rail feasible is the Northeast Corridor spanning Washington to Boston, where Amtrak's Acela Express now achieves top speeds of 150 miles, but averages a slow-motion 70 miles per hour because it must share track with other trains.

Acquiring enough land through eminent domain actions and constructing the high-tech rails needed for a Northeast high-speed rail line likely would be prohibitively expensive. Amtrak's current estimate - which many experts consider a decidedly low-ball one - says it would take 25 years and cost $117 billion.

Unfortunately, Biden, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and other Obama higher-ups still view rail travel through a 1950 lens of nostalgia, when one could enjoy the overnight luxury of the 20th Century Limited - leaving Grand Central Station in the evening and disembarking the next morning in downtown Chicago.

Those days - like Alfred Hitchcock, who had Cary Grant and Eva-Marie Saint do just that in his 1959 thriller "North by Northwest" - are long gone.

ABOUT THE WRITER

Amy Ridenour is president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank in Washington. Readers may write to her at: NCPPR, 501 Capitol Court NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; Web site: www.nationalcenter.org; e-mail: aridenour@nationalcenter.org. For information about NCPPR's funding, please go to http://www.nationalcenter.org/NCPPRHist.html (see "Funding" at end).

This essay is available to McClatchy-Tribune News Service subscribers. McClatchy-Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy-Tribune or its editors.
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  #38  
Old Posted Mar 18, 2011, 6:01 PM
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Uh, unlike both of you, I have been on the HSR in Japan. I lived in Japan. You need to go there and see what I mean. It will never happen here. Also, The trains do not touch the tracks, they sort of float above them on a magnetic field. They also exceed 120mph and faster. Blow the tracks in front of it, you have no survivors. I would stick to Jay Walking, I do not believe you know what your talking about when it comes to homeland security issues.

This HSR is a nice fantasy, but the reality is economics. Cars create a higher standard of living. The automobile is the most efficient way of travelling. In emergencies, rubber tires and concrete roads are the best way to get to you. The USA will never live in the boxes they call home in Japan, and no way will be give up our freedom of movement, granted to us by the automobile. You will also see that the $40 billion dollar price tag will move up to $100 billion after a few years. Good luck on selling that to tax payers.
The type of train that floats above the track magnetically is called a Maglev (electromagnetic levitation). California HSR will not be maglev. Japan has a small demonstration maglev line, but most of their high-speed passenger trains use standard gauge track. Sorry Econgrad, I can tell you don't like being told you're wrong, but I have to break it to you. You are.

Why do you say that cars are the most efficient way of traveling? Efficient in what way? When I see a big car driving down the road with ONE person in it, I do not see efficiency. A motorcycle is much more efficient in that respect. A car with 4 passengers and a trunk full of luggage is totally efficient. Trains can transport people efficiently too. They are also a pleasant way to travel between cities. Not everyone loves to drive like you do. Freedom is the ability to choose to drive a car or to take the train, and for both options to be viable. You have a lot to learn Econgrad. Also I find many of the articles you post to be extremely biased and lacking in factual information.
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  #39  
Old Posted Mar 18, 2011, 8:25 PM
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HSR USA lines will have the same TSR type security as Airports.
A total fabricated out of the blue complete falsehood.

a.k.a. just straight up lies.
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  #40  
Old Posted Mar 18, 2011, 10:27 PM
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A total fabricated out of the blue complete falsehood.

a.k.a. just straight up lies.
As being the only person who believes in the Constitution on here (and the only conservative), I am used to petty, personal attacks from ignorant people. That is why I love this forum!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Not Laughing at Obama's TSA Pat Down Joke: High-Speed Trains Safe From TSA Groping?


For a moment yesterday, Obama praised the Constitution in his State of the Union Address, but there was the police state joke that ruined it all for me.

Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying – without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.

Does Obama think this is a joke? Does he think Americans getting their junk felt up at the airport is funny? He must. He stopped as if their was a sign telling Congress to laugh just after he said it. Clearly, all the talk of how great the Constitution is was wiped out with this very comment as the TSA continues to violate Americans' Fourth Amendment right. That's right, Obama joked about the sexual molestation of millions of Americans.

What should really be pointed out is it's a lie. Obama justifies high-speed rail by telling Americans they won't have to endure the groping of genitalia now present at American airports. Who does he think he is kidding? His own Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano has already stated crackpot security teams known as the TSA who are violating Americans each day are being prepared to feel you up at a train station near you, commuter, subway, or long-distance passenger trains. To sell Americans on high-speed rail with the promise of privacy is disgraceful. In fact, it's already been documented that federal TSA troops have shown up in a bus station in Florida to grope Americans. If they are groping at a bus station you can count they will grope at train stations too.
Posted by Bungalow Bill

The folly of high-speed rail, redux; Plus: Did Obama consult J-Nap on “no pat-down” promise?
By Michelle Malkin • January 26, 2011 12:04 AM


Among President Obama’s many pie-in-the-sky promises tonight, he delivered this:

“Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying – without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.”

Like so much of the speech, the high-speed rail folly is recycled claptrap (he tossed it into last year’s speech, too). The remarks will appease Big Labor and eco-radical social planners led by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who’ll have his grubby hands all over the high-speed rail slush fund faster than you can turn off your soon-to-be-banned cell phone.

I pointed out last September that Obama’s infrastructure scheme is the mother of all Big Dig boondoggles:

President Obama calls his latest attempt to revive the economy a “Plan to Renew and Expand America’s Roads, Railways and Runways.” I’m calling it “The Mother of all Big Dig Boondoggles.” Like the infamous “Big Dig” highway spending project in Boston, this latest White House infrastructure spending binge guarantees only two results: Taxpayers lose; unions win.

The plan would add at least $50 billion more to the nearly $230 billion already allocated in the original trillion-dollar stimulus law for infrastructure. Less than one-third of that infrastructure stimulus money has been spent, but the urgency to pile on has increased exponentially as the midterm elections approach and unemployment hovers near 10 percent. So, the president says he wants to “put people back to work” through a new “upfront investment” in surface transportation, airports and the air-traffic control system paid for by repealing tax incentives for the oil and gas industries — followed by massive, unpaid-for expenditures on pie-in-the-sky high-speed rail, “environmental sustainability” and “livability,” whatever that means.

Obama spoke emotionally at an AFL-CIO rally on Labor Day about unemployed construction workers. A “lot of those folks, they had lost their jobs in manufacturing and went into construction; now they’ve lost their jobs again,” he said. “It doesn’t do anybody any good when so many hardworking Americans have been idled for months, even years, at a time when there is so much of America that needs rebuilding.”

But here’s the rub: Not all workers are equal in Obama’s eyes. And most of them will remain “idled” by the Democrats’ own design. The key is E.O. 13502, a union-friendly executive order signed by Obama in his first weeks in office, which essentially forces contractors who bid on large-scale public construction projects worth $25 million or more to submit to union representation for its employees.

The blunt instrument used to give unions a leg up is the “project labor agreement (PLA),” which in theory sets reasonable pre-work terms and conditions — but in practice, requires contractors to hand over exclusive bargaining control; to pay inflated, above-market wages and benefits; and to fork over dues money and pension funding to corrupt, cash-starved labor organizations. These anti-competitive agreements undermine a fair bidding process on projects that locked-out, nonunion laborers are funding with their own tax dollars. And these PLAs benefit the privileged few at the expense of the vast majority: In the construction industry, 85 percent of the workforce is nonunion by choice.

We don’t need to theorize about how this shakedown works in the real world. Boston’s notorious Big Dig was a union-only construction project thanks to a Massachusetts government-mandated PLA. The original $2.8 billion price tag for the project skyrocketed to $22 billion in state and federal taxpayer subsidies thanks in no small part to ballooning labor costs. In February, the Bay State’s Beacon Hill Institute found that PLAs added 12 percent to 18 percent to school construction costs in Massachusetts and Connecticut. In Washington, D.C., the Department of Veterans Affairs commissioned an independent study showing that PLAs would increase hospital construction costs by as much as 9 percent in some markets.

In short, Obama’s new Union Infrastructure Rescue Plan is a political favoritism scheme that raises the cost of doing business and bars tens of thousands of skilled, nonunion laborers who choose to run open shops from securing work. In the name of patching up America’s highways and byways, Mr. Fix It would create another gaping fiscal sinkhole to appease his special interest donors. Recovery Summer turns to Union Payback Fall.

And in 2008, I walked through the wasteland of high speed rails to nowhere:

Bay Area officials are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of tens of billions of dollars in tax subsidies for a high-speed rail line from Oakland to Los Angeles. This is so wrong on so many levels. Can anyone say “High-Speed Rail to Nowhere?”

With the economy in recession, California’s plan to ask the federal government for billions of dollars to help build the nation’s first high-speed rail system might seem like wishful thinking rather than a feasible financial strategy.

But transportation officials say that California’s high-speed rail project seems to be on a fast track to a hefty federal contribution – perhaps as much as $15 billion to $20 billion.

That optimism in the face of a dire economic outlook is the product of the priorities of President-elect Barack Obama’s administration; the likelihood of a big federal infrastructure investment; growing concern over climate change; the volatility of gas prices; Californians’ backing of the $10 billion high-speed rail bond measure and strong support for the project from the state’s potent congressional delegation, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“It seems like the stars are aligned,” said Rod Diridon of San Jose, a member of the High Speed Rail Authority.

Building the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles and Anaheim line that will be the spine of the system will cost between $32.8 billion and $33.6 billion, according to the High Speed Rail Authority’s business report. Extensions built later would cost another $12 billion. In addition to the $10 billion from state bond sales, the authority is counting on $12 billion to $16 billion in federal funds plus $6.5 billion to $7.5 billion in private investment and $2 billion to $3 billion in local contributions.

(link to SFgate article)

Okay, where to begin? It currently costs $49 one-way to fly Southwest from Oakland to Los Angeles. That flight takes about an hour and fifteen minutes. How much ya think it’ll cost to ride the high-speed line from O-town to L.A.? For comparison’s sake, government-funded Amtrak trips from Washington to New York’s Penn Station cost about $133 one-way on the Joe Biden-endorsed Acela (if they’re running). That trip takes about two hours and 45 minutes.

More data for you: It’ll take you about six-seven hours to drive from Oakland to Los Angeles on the I-5– and at current gas prices, it’ll cost you a mere $25 (with a few more bucks if you stop by In-N-Out!)

Bottom line: Who in their right mind would take this high-speed rail line? And why should people in Des Moines and Miami and Chicago pay for California commuters to ride it?

The bureaucrats say it’ll cost $30 billion, plus $12 billion for every extension — which means you should triple the asking price. There’s no need to guess whether this thing will be a money pit. Just look at the Los Angeles MTA black hole.

One last point: Who will get all the vaunted jobs the high-speed rail line boondoggle promises to deliver? Bloated unions.

The more things change…

***

Reader Terry adds: “I don’t know just how much you know about California topography, but the High Speed Train will be doing about 30 mph when it is going over the mountains outside Bakersfield. Someone should do a story on this issue by itself. It is a joke without a punchline.”

A very, very expensive joke.

Allll aaaaboard!

***

Parting questions: Obama got laughs for emphasizing the no-pat-down appeal of rail travel. (Video here.)

But does he really need to be advertising lax transit security to the world and our enemies?

And did he double-check with his own DHS Secretary before inserting the line into his Teleprompter?
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