The utter stupidity of California in one project
How else to account for the state's wondrous physical beauty and gentle climate, on the one hand, and its ludicrously irrational political majorities and execrable public officialdom, on the other?
God gave Yosemite Valley but then inflicted Nancy Pelosi. He created the Big Sur coastline, then dropped Jerry Brown into Sacramento. He graces the state with the sweetest September-Octobers north of the equator but requires that they be shared with the likes of Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf.
The list of nature's spectacular bounty, paired with California's unmatched human folly, is endless.
Another week in the Golden State, another rich display of self-inflicted misery.
What part of the madness to pick on?
How about a train?
California residents were treated last week to the unpleasant but unsurprising news that the unwanted "bullet train" from San Francisco to Los Angeles will cost a minimum of $77 billion and "possibly" as much as $98 billion, up from the most recent prior estimate of $64 billion, which in turn was way up from the original $32-billion estimate based on which the gullible California public bought into the boondoggle in the first place. Any bets on the final price tag?
Students of California dementia will point out that this cost inflation is nothing compared to the Oakland Bay Bridge east span replacement project (2002-2013), originally estimated at $250 million but coming in at $6.5 billion, a mere 2,500% overrun. Six point five billion dollars, by the way, is the official admission – persistent rumors that refuse to die cite a much higher figure.
The response is that the bridge money is gone. The (admittedly improbable) intervention of sanity might yet save California's train money for devotion to something actually needed.
Along with the cost explosion for the bullet train, a project that in a rationally governed California would be about the 17th most urgent infrastructure addition, came the not altogether shocking news that this nifty train's anticipated completion date has been pushed still farther into the future, to the year 2033.
But not to worry, as high speed rail officials promise, sort of, that in a mere ten years or so, the ever so popular San Francisco-to-Gilroy segment of the line will be up and running. This will no doubt come as an enormous relief to San Francisco's Pacific Heights crowd, which has been having the very devil of a time lately getting from their tony neighborhood to Gilroy, the state's favorite weekend hot spot.
The California bullet train, mind you, grinds relentlessly forward at glacial speed and mind-boggling cost in a state where – to give but one example – 200,000 residents living downstream from the gigantic Oroville Dam had to be evacuated by panicked officials during the winter of 2016-17. As luck would have it, the old dam did not collapse. So the really critical task of enabling California officials to compare cool trains with their Japanese and French counterparts was able to proceed apace.
As for California residents downstream from the Oroville Dam, the next time winter offers up a lot of rain, the "sandbags and Elmer's glue" approach so successfully invoked during the storms of 2016-17 will work again. Probably.
And as long as we're talking water, how about the bullet train-infrastructure priorities question in light of California's ancient water capture, storage, and distribution system? Even the hoary and easily befuddled Senator Dianne Feinstein has noticed that California is making do for 40 million people with a water supply system designed for 15 million. Not too bright, that. And regularly leads to ruinous water use restrictions and astronomical rates.
Could it be that enlarging, modernizing, and rendering safe California's water supply should take precedence over building a really cool train? Or that any number of other infrastructure projects, to expand and restore California's decayed and overburdened roads, bridges, ports, and airports, might seem a more prudent application of scarce dollars? Nah.
This is California – the largest one-party autocracy west of Russia, where vanity bridges and trains come before the tedious infrastructure necessities that make civilized life possible. This is California, the canary that died to reveal to the rest of the country the final destination of arrogant liberalism and open borders.
Image: Fred Moore via Wikimedia Commons.