The federal government is offering $8B as start up and improvement capital for various high speed rail systems throughout the US, allotting $1B over each of the next five years. California and Florida would receive the lion’s share of the funding. So what’s wrong with that? High speed rail is good, right?
An article at International Business Times offers some insight. The California train project alone will cost about $40B, about $3.14B of which will be government funded, after you include $2.25B from the previous stimulus package. The rest will have to come from other sources. Investors are balking, doubting returns. From the same article, Republican candidate for governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker referring to the project for his own state, says,
…he will stop the project in his state if elected in November. He contends, citing studies, that rail passenger fares are likely to cover only 20 percent of the operating costs while the rest of the cost will have to be borne by the taxpayers in the state. He says the rail line’s operational and maintenance costs will be a drain the state’s finances for a long time and that the actual cost of construction will far exceed the estimated cost.
If fares cover only 20%, sounds like a future bailout to me. Can we say, “Amtrak?” Can we say, “Too big to fail?” Can we say, “Bend over and grab your ankles?”
Let’s look at it another way, on a smaller, more personal scale that is easier to understand. The economy is tough and your wife just lost her job (or you did, if you need to be PC.) You own a pair of Toyota Camrys. The federal government comes along and offers you $5Gs to upgrade to a new Lexus (not the whole cost to upgrade, just a down payment to “jump-start” the transaction.) “Wow! The government is just gonna give me five grand to go buy a new car? Woohoo!” Well, where is the government getting that money? When it dawns on you that their deep pocket source is you, your countenance falls. Like any responsible person, you say, “Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll wait until things pick up and I can afford it.”
And if you’re thinking it will create jobs and stimulate the economy, think again. Government jobs do not stimulate the economy. They’re like paying your son to mow the grass. Good for his benefit, but it doesn’t make your family any richer.
Democrats are behind these big spending bills. Republicans are against spending what we just can’t afford at the moment. Cast your vote responsibly.
As an aside, if red states refuse the government money, blue states will end up with all the goodies, at everyone else’s expense. Refusing the money isn’t enough. We must refuse to elect the big spenders and deny them access to our cash. They will ruin our future. Blue states must be shamed into acting responsibly, or if any of you psychologists out there (not the liberal, touchy-feely, hand wringing, bed wetting types, though) have any better ideas regarding bad behavior,….