The following letter appeared in the San Jose Mercury News:
State not geared up for high-speed rail
Is high-speed rail really the answer in California? I think not. I originally thought, great, let’s match Europe’s and Japan’s advanced transportation with our own high-speed trains.
However, California is not Europe or Japan. We do not have convenient trains and buses running everywhere you could possibly want to go in every city.
Consider that if you traveled from San Francisco to Los Angeles by high-speed train in 2½ hours, what do you do when you arrive? Catch a bus or light rail to your destination? Sorry, too inconvenient and time-consuming. Rent a car? Sorry, now you have lost the economy of train travel as well as the time savings.
Either alternative adds at least two hours to your trip making the time equivalent to driving.
I say, “no on high-speed rail.” Let’s save the money and reduce our debt in California!
Let it sink in what the writer is saying here: We should not even try to catch up to the rest of the world, because we have already fallen so far behind that it will cost too much. Instead let’s just try to pay off some of the accumulated debt.
The writer is bearing witness to the results of many years of tax cutting and cutbacks in our government. After the tax cutting started in the 70s and 80s we stopped maintaining the infrastructure, so now we do not have convenient trains or buses or mass transit to use after the high-speed rail reaches your destination. We instead accumulated debt.
So here we are. The consequences of decades of cutbacks are arriving. The rest of the world leaps ahead of us. China has nearly completed a network of 42 high-speed rail lines connecting the major cities, and we can’t even get one project off the ground.
It’s certainly not going to get any better until we start asking corporations and the wealthy to pitch in and pay back some of what they gained from the infrastructure that we built in California, back in the decades before they got tax cuts.
Do you simply just disconnect from reality when you write? I took a look at the last 12 years of budgets in the state of California (both state and local). From 1998 California grew at about 1% per year but government spending grew at an average of 6.4% per year. Even adjusting for inflation this is a continuous, sustained increase in government spending. So, what cutbacks are you talking about? It is no wonder that California is broke in light of those type of spending increases.