The question posed by the unfolding California high-speed rail cataclysm is why the reaction to it should be a partisan or ideological issue at all. Are human beings capable of managing bias and learning hard truths from new information, or aren’t they?
High speed rail was promoted in California as a green and virtuous way to propel commuters from San Francisco to Los Angeles along at 220 miles an hour, completing the trip in a about two and a half hours. It was going to involve minimal tax-payer cash, with billions arriving from private investors. It would be profitable, not requires state subsidies and be much less expensive than flying. Thus enthused and enlightened, 53.7 percent of approved the plan and a $9.95 billion bond.
It was a scam, a hustle, and a pack of lies. Virginia Postrel writes at Bloomberg…
“California’s high-speed rail project increasingly looks like an expensive social science experiment to test just how long interest groups can keep money flowing to a doomed endeavor before elected officials finally decide to cancel it. What combination of sweet-sounding scenarios, streamlined mockups, ever-changing and mind-numbing technical detail, and audacious spin will keep the dream alive?”
Well said. I would add, “And will anyone learn from this fiasco?” Specifically, will anyone learn that ideologically-driven officials will always press policies in defiance of reality, if the public lets them, or more precisely, trusts them.