Bullet Train Boondoggles

On November 4th California’s “High-Speed Rail Authority” released a press release entitled “Federal Funding for High-Speed Rail Dedicated to the Central Valley.” Apparently an additional $715 million in infrastructure investment is going to be directed to the development of California’s bullet train, bringing the total to $4.3 billion. All of these funds are to be spent on what will be the first segment of the high-speed rail system, running between Merced and Bakersfield.

A few years ago, when I worked as CFO for a short line railroad, I learned of a term familiar to railroad professionals, “foamer,” which is used to describe rail enthusiasts whose interest in everything having to do with locomotives, rolling stock and track, matched that of rock star groupies. But pleasing the foamers – and the foreign corporations who will gobble up most of the borrowed government loot that gets sunk into high-speed rail – is not reason enough to direct money at this project.

A commenter on a previous post here said something very insightful – “if we’re going to spend money we don’t have, let’s at least spend it on things we can see.” He was referring to the folly of using deficit stimulus money simply to continue to pay over-market compensation to government employees. But I would take that a step further. If you are going to spend money you don’t have, at least spend [...] Read More