Friday, October 24, 2008

You Want $10 Billion for a What!?!

A high speed rail system to connect Sacramento/San Francisco to Los Angeles. No, seriously.

California has a $15 Billion budget deficit, and Proposition 1 on the November 4th ballot asks for the credit card to make a down payment on a $40 Billion high-speed rail system. I don't know very much about very much, but when I first heard this without numbers the first thing that popped into my head was "how many people are queuing up for a better way to commute from San Francisco to LA... apart from the Governor?" People in Northern Califonria and people in Southern California don't even like each other, much less visit that much.

I've seen the traffic in San Francisco and I live with the traffic in the LA metroplex, and if we're going to borrow $10 Billion to improve the commute I think we can do better than giving some guy $10 Billion in walking-around money so he can try to raise the other $30 Billion from the Feds and private investors to try to put in a bullet train between here to there. In fact, this might not be the best year ever for trying to raise $30 Billion from the Feds and private investors because, you know, the global economy is in the tank.

Proposition 10 almost seems rational by comparison. Proposition 10 only asks to borrow $5 Billion; $3.5 Billion to help businesses convert their gasoline powered vehicle fleets to vehicles powered by natural gas, and the rest for research into other alternative energy sources.

Why has T. Boone Pickens picked up the check for this campaign? It might have nothing to do with the fact that he sells natural gas for vehicles, but that's not what got my goat in the first place; what got my goat in the first place was the idea of paying people with borrowed money to make good business decisions. Oil is more expensive than natural gas; how much more incentive do they need to find alternatives? How many of these commercial fleets are even going to be in business next year?

Proposition 10 is only half as expensive as Proposition 1 and it is entirely possible that additional natural gas powered vehicles would get onto California roads in my lifetime (unlike that bullet train), but why in the hell are we thinking about borrowing $15 Billion (another $15 Billion) for either of these projects? Aside from the (lack of) merits of either proposition, $10 Billion isn't going to get that train in, and Pickens already has $3.5 Billion - let him pay incentives.


Blogger Kay Dennison said...

In this economy, asking citizens for a nickel is dumb -- let alone 10 billion. Sigh.

3:45 PM  

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