High Speed Rail

Even the Feds are Warning that California's Bullet Train Is a Disaster in the Making

When even the experts in boondoggles are worried…



Just days after California Gov. Jerry Brown warned that the state was slipping back into deficit spending ($1.6 billion by next summer), the Los Angeles Times got its hands on a confidential internal report from the Federal Railroad Administration that points the fingers right back at the governor when it comes to wasteful spending.

Even the feds believe the state is drastically understating the costs of it's massive high-speed rail project, approved by voters years ago but with only a small portion of the project funded. Just the first leg of the $70 billion project could cost billions more than budgeted, $10 billion instead of $6.4 billion. And the project is already way behind schedule. The report predicts the first stretch of track (in the center of the state) won't be completed until 2024, seven years behind schedule.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has responded by complaining that this risk analysis contains merely "hypotheticals" (though the CHRSA's chief executive called them "estimates and projections" in the Times story, which is slightly different). On Facebook CHSRA dismissed the story as "misleading" and instead invited readers to look at two government reports that praise the government spending money on infrastructure. One of them, they say, calls the train project one of the "top proposed infrastructure projects of major economic significance." Hilariously, the report they want us to read instead says right in the beginning that "all project costs and benefits are based on assumptions and methodologies established by the authors." Meaning that any praise of the benefits of building the train are also based on estimates and projections (as they have been all along—remarkably foolish projections of demand and ridership).

Beyond that, the CHRSA's message is simply yelling "JOBS!" as loudly as possible, pointing out that all this spending is putting people to work and noting as some sort of evidence that Fresno unemployment dropped from 18 percent in 2011 to 9 percent in 2016. That's not a terribly compelling argument because the unemployment rate has dropped in similar numbers all across California, even in areas that aren't building a massive government boondoggle. Why should we believe those folks wouldn't be working on something else if they weren't working on this stupid train?

It's a truly frustrating issue, because we see very little evidence that this train can pay for itself after its built and will require subsidies in order to keep operating (despite their insistence otherwise). So the actual consequence of creating all these jobs is that all these people are spending billions of tax dollars to build something that is going to continue to cost money after the construction is done. Using the "Broken Windows" economic fallacy metaphor, it's like the government hiring the people to break the windows and then offering a subsidy for the cost to reglaze them. What would this money be doing in California if it weren't tied up in this train?

Reason editors current and former, Matt Welch and Virginia Postrel, took note in June how the people involved in this train project and in the media knew full well what a boondoggle it was and promoted it anyway. The Reason Foundation has been warning for years that this was going to happen.

And irony of ironies, Californians seem to hate that Donald Trump was elected president, but Trump loves exactly these kinds of terrible infrastructure boondoggles and is on the record complaining about the fact that China has high-speed rail and we don't. God help us all, but Trump could be the president Brown and the state's powerful labor interests need to keep the dollars rolling in for this mess. At some point we may be grateful Trump is so thin-skinned if he shuts down federal spending requests for the train because of the silly secession movement gaining attention after his election.

As a reminder, the train project also hurts people, taking land away from farmers to install this train in a place that truly doesn't need it. Watch ReasonTV on who is losing out on this project (besides taxpayers in general):

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  1. I live in San Jose, and fuck this state. Droughts are nature, but shortages are manmade. We’ve chosen to build trains to nowhere and to not build any more water store as our population has doubled.

    What the fuck are people thinking? That shit magically solves itself.

    I drive down to LA / San Diego every month or two, and I would still do that even with a “bullet train”. The train will be slower, more expensive, and inconvenient. All the progs up in SF who rave about it would never take it themselves; they would just take a 50 minute flight down south for less than the cost.

    1. Nobody does a better job of describing the distopia that is now CA than VDW.


    2. All the progs up in SF who rave about it would never take it themselves;

      That applies to almost every proggy brain fart.

      1. Oh, they’ll take it alright. And lobby and whine and schweem for all kinds of luxuries on board, too. Films will be set on the goddamned thing (with the cost being subsidized). The proggies love them some trains. The problem being that there aren’t enough actual Proggies to support the furshlugginer thing. Even in the Proggies bastions on the coasts the actual Progressives are a minority. The rest of their voting block is made up of folks they have bamboozled into voting Democrat; union members, government employees, poor (and thanks to the Proggies) uneducated brown people. Most of those can’t afford to travel much, or if they can won’t want to go anywhere the train goes.

        1. Schweem?

          1. I assume that was meant to be “scheme.” (Or maybe it’s German for “queef.”)

    3. But hey, you can take the train down AND THEN RENT A CAR at your destination. So much less expensive and more convenient than driving yourself.

      Plus, by the time this train’s route actually extends that far you’ll have access to reliable autonomous vehicles so the HSR is all set to become obsolete riiiiiight at the same time its finished.

      1. I think there is more salient point, I know many people who really do not like driving long distances, they would be willing to rent a car at location, or more likely use Uber everywhere.

        I think your second point might be more relevant, as well as the above made point that it will likely be slower and more expensive than flying killing the practical advantage of the train.

        This leaves the novelty of it I suppose, but novelty goes away faster than the loans to pay for the thing.

        1. If that were the case then they would just fly – takes less time and isn’t that expensive, or take the *already* existing train and bus lines.

          The fact is that the inconvenience of driving from SF to SD is low enough to be countered by not having to rent a car at your destination.

      2. I was looking at Lindbergh Fields Wikipedia for some quick runway info and I noticed that they said the airport was to be connected to the high speed rail system sometime in 2040. Lol 2040. Why even bother with a projection date 23 years in the future? At the pace government projects go it is liable to be 2060 at least.

    4. And by the time the train is done, self-driving electric cars that can average 120 mph will be common place, so the SF to LA trip will take about 3 hours. You’d spend that much time getting to the train station (or airport) and waiting around for security lines, and you wouldn’t have your car when you arrive.

  2. The one thing CA should be doing is building more water storage, especially in the south of the Central Valley. 10 years worth of drinking water just flowed out to sea last week alone.

    Of course, we’re building a train to nowhere instead.

    1. The honest ones will tell you they want a water shortage, so people are forced to conserve. Just like they want $10 a gallon gas, to save the environment.

      1. The LA Times made no secret of it last week. The headline complained that we missed our conservation targets “due to excessive rain” or some shit along those lines.

        Another headline was “When is the drought over?” Answer: when Jerry Brown says it is. Not when the drought is actually over because it’s raining a lot more than average. When the fucking governor decides it’s over.

        1. Shortly after the water restrictions went in place a few years ago (with suggestions to take 5 minute showers or less), a 100-year-old water main broke near UCLA, wasting more water in 10 minutes than my whole town will use in 10 lifetimes.

    2. The drought is over. They are having a once in a generation year of rain. Instead of collecting that rain, they are letting it go out to sea because their reservoirs are full and they need to ensure they can hold back some water for flood prevention.

      1. This level of rain is about once every 6-10 years. A real, once in a generation rain turns the entire 18,000 square mile Central Valley into an inland sea.

        What they should have done was turn on the pumps to fill the San Luis Reservoir to the top. It’s not used for flood control, and it’s right off of the CA Aqueduct.

        1. They didn’t do that because the people who run the state are so stupid and evil they want there to be a water shortage. They hate civilization. They really do.

          1. Delta smelt. Last census: 3. 3 fish.

            It was the subject of a federal lawsuit.

            1. Why doesn’t someone kill the damned things and be done with it?

              They don’t even care about wildlife or nature. Look at how they look the other way when windmills murder birds by the 1000s. Time and again the greens will sue to stop things that actually save and conserve wildlife. They only care about power and harming people. it is a fucking death cult.

              1. As they say locally about this situation:
                “He who smelt it, Delta it.”

                1. As they say locally about this situation:
                  “He who smelt it, Delta it.”

                  Phew! That joke left a stench!

                  1. Hey Groovus, good to see you back commenting again, haven’t seen you since New Years Eve.

                    You pulled an all-nighter that night, eh?

                    1. Thanks, yeah, so did everyone else in the family, especially my son, who now knows the joys of sleep-deprived indefatigable hyper-excitabilty, and is quite the polyglottal chatterbox now. I still comment, and I even have a stalker! Some Tulpa-esque type named Hail Retaxes.

                      That’s a first, and now I only have a couple more things to tick off on my Reason bucket list (KMW to respond to me directly in a comment thread, and one more thing that probably won’t pan out).

                    2. “Some Tulpa-esque type named Hail Retaxes.”

                      That troll changes handles (and targets) fairly regularly. Feed insults or ignore; no engagement indicated.

              2. They don’t even care about wildlife or nature. Look at how they look the other way when windmills murder birds by the 1000s.

                It’s not about saving individual animals, it’s about saving species. Birds can be replaced, species cannot.

                1. Bullshit. The wind farms blend the rare and the common alike.

                2. Who’s gonna save the endangered species Brokius Taxpayerus?

                  1. (Luckily, Brokius Taxpayerus is a migratory creature, who will leave for friendlier environs. Still broke, still paying taxes, but at least able to keep enough for itself to survive.)

                3. So if a few of the “just individual” members of an endangered species get killed it doesn’t matter? I’ll be sure to pass that along to every developer in the country. Or is it that all birds are the same species? Or what?

                4. They have the same mentality about human rights. Individual humans don’t need their rights protected — groups of humans do.

              3. Or the story that came out this week about the 70k birds slaughtered since “Miracle on the Hudson”. And still no guarantees something like that wouldn’t happen again.

  3. On Facebook CHSRA dismissed the story as “misleading” and instead invited readers to instead look at two government reports that praise the government spending money on infrastructure.

    If it’s on Facebook, the California High-Speed Fail Authority should have simply flagged it as FAKE NEWS, just as I’m flagging Shackford’s here for his use of “instead” twice in one sentence. Also, see what I did there with fail? You can use it if you want.

  4. Oh and when voters approved this, they were stupid enough to believe the guarantees about how it wont cost more than budgeted, won’t need continuing subsidies, etc. It was fucking written into the proposition that the train will be faster and cost less than a flight, but that has been proven a lie, yet it still goes on.

    Progs always have to fucking lie, otherwise no one would buy their crap. Had to lie about Obamacare and lie about the train.

    1. You can always lie to California voters. They never catch on. Those who do, emigrate. Ironically, back to Oklahoma and Texas. Steinbeck would be astonished.

  5. Trump will make the trains run on time

  6. Trump will make the trains run on time

  7. I await the collapse of California so we can implement their ideas here.

    1. Other than being decent on guns, Washington isn’t much better. Tell me more about your bike lanes.

      1. At least California had the good sense to get rid of Pete Carroll.

        1. He self-deported as soon as it was clear that he was going to get caught for all of the cheating.

          1. Says the butthurt bruin…zing!

            1. Cal. Cal Bears.

              I’m in worse shape than you thought.

      2. Decent on guns? In Washington state? They are going full California.

        1. Plus no state income tax.

  8. For every billion over budget, they should publicly execute an administrator of the project or a politician who voted for it.

    1. For every million over budget we take a finger and when you run out of fingers, well . . .

  9. As terrible as Season 2 of True Detective was (at least as compared to Season 1; Vince Vaughn was awesome in it), they nailed the corrupt boondoggle that is California high speed rail pretty well.

    1. It was terrible, but it did characterize southeastern LA County pretty accurately

  10. Please notice the release time on the LAT article:

    “By Ralph Vartabedian?Contact Reporter
    January 13, 2017, 2:45 PM”

    Yes, folks, once again a fed agency has taken to dumping bad news after 5PM (east coast) on a
    Friday before a 3-day weekend.
    Something about “transparency”, but I can’t think of it for all the shouting about the Russkis!

    1. Three day weekend? *Checks calendar* Oh, cool, Monday is Festivus!

  11. This medium speed train is perhaps the worst idea to come down the line for some time in a state that produces bad ideas like seagulls make guano. Even most of my lefty friends think it is insane. I was born here and all my family save for the ones in Ireland live here in the Bay Area, and I have a business here, but I am eyeing the exit door even though I probably can’t leave for a while yet. I’m just hoping that the shit really hasn’t hit the fan by then and the proggies that run this place haven’t implemented full on wealth confiscation. Somehow I see an exit tax or their dream come true of ditching Prop 13 and jumping my property tax rate for, sky high to upper atmosphere high.

    1. Prop 13 is the one thing that I think is safe.

      Getting rid of it would destroy property values in addition to raising taxes. No way would anyone put up with it.

      1. The proggies may have just enough sense not to kill the golden goose, but I am wondering what crap they will pull when the state inevitably gets close to bankruptcy.

      2. Nobody who doesn’t own property would give a shit. What percentage of California voters are property owners?

        My guess would be that the ratio is shrinking, as it is everywhere else.

        1. How about every one that owns rental property? And where would that extra money to pay the new taxes to come from? RENT!! Are you really that unable to look at anything beyond what you want to see?

          1. Good point. Property taxes always get passed through to renters.

            The way Calif. and its counties and cities are going to raise taxes on property is via additional add-on fees and taxes. I think it was here on Reason that they covered the City of El Monte’s little hidden tax to cover the lucrative city pension obligation.

            That’s what they’ll do to get around Prop 13.

    2. If there were existing rail lines that could make downtown-to-downtown travel time competitive with driving, rail might not be such a bad thing. But that’s never going to happen.

      1. One of the bait and switches that they pulled was to move from dedicated high speed lines to using existing low speed rail lines through the Peninsula to SF downtown. It means that for that whole 70 miles that it will not be high speed. I believe that is the case in another stretch as well. When the price tag ballooned to 130 billion they had to find a way to pretend that they would come in somewhere under the 100 billion mark. Of course, it will end up being more than 130 billion in the end.

      2. Passenger rail only ever makes sense in routes under 300 miles or so, beyond that and flying is ever more economical and faster. In CA that would be LA to SD; LA to Las Vegas and SF to Sacramento. That’s it. And of the three none are practical because of the development in place in LA and SF and the physical impracticality of a LA to LV route.

    3. I don’t think they can do exit taxes without seceding, or unless Congress and the Supreme Court OKs the idea of state exit taxes. The whole commerce clause thing.

      1. It would be enacted as a PenalTax User Fee at the point of surrendering physical residency. SCOTUS approved, too.

  12. Scott S:

    Even the feds believe the state is drastically understating the costs of it’s its massive high-speed rail project, approved by voters


    1. Why are outsiders (the FRA) meddling with the results of the California election? This is evil, right?

  13. This was published without a drop of irony.

    Kyell Gold’s new novel may lie at the most unlikely intersection in literary history: a gay immigrant Muslim romance involving furries?that is, people who feel a close identification with anthropomorphic animal characters.

    “I wrote this book in part as a response to the wave of Islamophobia in this country,” Gold explained in an author’s note, “never dreaming at the time that it would crest as it has now.”


    1. You really can’t make this shit up.

      1. I’m waiting for the inevitable next step in expanding ‘rights’ to follow the current push that we all must accept whichever of the 55+ genders an individual deems self to be (since gender is only a social construct, of course) and start having a requirement that we must accommodate those ‘people’ who deem themselves to be animals. They’re already out there, so it can’t be that far away.

        Perhaps for those who feel they are actually dogs, a workplace requirement that they be allowed to go out for walkies four times per day? That these ‘animals’ be allowed to defecate in public, as long as their companion carries a scoop and a plastic bag? That workplace cafeterias must carry foods appropriate for animal consumption?

        It may sound ridiculous, but imagine ten years ago if you were told in 2017 there would be penalties if your employer didn’t allow you to put down on your employee file that you self-defined as “genderfuck”.

    2. Looks like I don’t have to post publishing derp today!

      1. In my mind, I ship you and Derptologist.

        Jus’ sayin’

        1. No telling which poor soul got to share a lifeboat with nicole, in your mind’s eye, HM.

          Also, fuck the sea urchins

          1. This is why I nick-named my dick “uni roll.”

            Most people assume it’s because of sea urchin roe’s resemblance to a syphilitic chancre. However, this is not true.

            1. Indeed. The resemblance is there, much like advanced syphilis and dementia appear similar behaviourally.

              Saw this on the CGI board I frequent; the 3d artiste had you specifically in mind….

    3. That is not at all what Nelson DeMille had in mind when he wrote “the Lion” and the “Lion’s Game.”


  14. . . . the CHRSA’s message is simply yelling “JOBS!” as loudly as possible . . . That’s not a terribly compelling argument because the unemployment rate has dropped in similar numbers all across California . . . Why should we believe those folks wouldn’t be working on something else if they weren’t working on this stupid train?

    And its completely irrelevant – jobs are a *cost* not a benefit. Nobody is bragging about how much steel will be used, because any fool knows that the more steel, the higher the cost. Labor is exactly the same. The more labor, the higher the cost.

    The only people who benefit from ‘more jobs’ are the people who get those jobs. The rest of us are asked to suck it up and pay extra to cover those costs.

    Don’t play into their game – by allowing them to make the jobs argument, taking it at face value, and rebutting it, you’re letting them get away with putting the idea that these jobs are a benefit and the only question is how much of one.

    1. Government has a habit of using inputs rather than outputs as a measure of success. How successful has the war on poverty been? Why, just look at how many more people are now being reached with food stamps and free lunches and subsidized housing and Medicaid benefits! Success!

      1. “How successful has the war on poverty been? Why, just look at how many more people are now being reached with food stamps and free lunches and subsidized housing and Medicaid benefits! Success!”

        When I heard them say things like that, it always made me imagine a doctor who said, “I’ve put this patient on every single medicine I could get my hands on; he MUST be the healthiest person in the world!”

        Shouldn’t the goal be a society where no welfare programs are necessary?

        1. Shouldn’t the goal be a society where no welfare programs are necessary?

          You would thinks so, but of course that’s not the case.

          In fact, if low-income people aren’t getting food stamps, to the government that means they must be starving.

          An interesting study came out a few years back that a certain California zip code had very high rates of ‘food insecurity’ (usually referred to by our friends in the media as ‘going to bed hungry’) — because a substantial percentage of its residents had no income, yet almost none were receiving food stamps.

          The zip code was for the campus of Stanford University.

          1. Don’t you know? The newest moral panic is “hungry college students“.

            I don’t know about you, but when I was at State Flagship U., we didn’t compare eating 1 buck ramen to the fucking Biafran famine.

    2. If it is all about job, pay people to dig holes then fill them back up. Less chance for waste or damage.

      My take is that whenever you see one of these boondoggles you should follow the money. Someone is, or some few connected are, gonna make a killing off this disaster that tax payers always end up paying for.

      1. Won’t work. A certain number of those holes will hit water, become federally protected wetlands, and require the entire project to be relocated at a cost of half a gazillion dollars. With the taxpayers covering the cost of the move, and a new agency to “monitor” the hole with water.

  15. OT: The first episode of this season of Homeland is on demand

    The show has been really, really muddled and whenever they try to make us care about Carrie’s personal life I fast-forward. They also flirt with interesting questions about the US before ultimately coming down on the side of the surveillance state and interventionism, which is always disappointing


    This season seems really interesting. They clearly planned on a Hillary victory by having a woman president, but the new president is anti-war (so clearly different from Hillary) and coincidentally is at odds with the intelligence community during her transition. And Carrie’s role is in defending an immigrant arrested for running a website sympathetic to terrorism, which might bring up some interesting questions about civil liberties. I have no doubt Homeland will completely botch the landing and show the CIA to always be right, but it’s still intriguing enough

    1. I’ve never thought the show was entirely pro government or pro CIA. The message has always seemed to me to be that they’re a bunch of evil and/or incompetent buffoons who get bailed out at the last minute by the crazy but ingenious female Jack Bauer.

      I hope they’re not going to start injecting partisan political bullshit into it, because they’ve done a really good job of avoiding that so far.

  16. Oh, come on. It’s an investment in the future! The payback will be huge.

    1. For some people…

  17. The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has responded by complaining that this risk analysis contains merely “hypotheticals”

    Those mountains may or may not be there. We won’t know for certain until we start blasting.

    1. Wait! The hypotheticals in all the climate models are taken as 97% gospel! Why are these not given the same weight?
      Oh, yeah, only guesses that justify massive federal intervention are acceptable.
      At least until Jan 20.

  18. I have a business here, but I am eyeing the exit door even though I probably can’t leave for a while yet.

    Don’t wait too long, or you may find the supply of “next greater fools” has run out.

  19. I really like this guy. Thing is i can’t tell if he is a liberal or libertarian or what.

    – Seems to be against green energy requirements and recognizes they are crony schemes
    – likes less regulation as recognizes regulatory capture
    – promotes localism and doesnt like urbanization by central planners

    – Income inequality
    – oligarchy


    1. Does some nice pieces on california on elites vs the rest

  20. Several of my friends are geologists and they alternate between shaking their heads and laughing their heads off at the idiocy of the future tunnel through the San Andreas fault area. One of the longest railroad tunnels ever built to go through a rapidly moving plate boundary. Taggart Tunnel here we come!

  21. What do you call a “middle east peace conference” where neither Israel or Palestinians are invited?

    Diplomatic Circle Jerk

    reporters seem to want to cover the gaping hole in the raison d’etre with “numbers”. 70 countries were there! many of them the same countries that routinely and unanimously sign ‘resolutions’ denouncing Israel in the UN.

    Kerry assures Netanyahu he’s just going to “soften the language”. Which would be nice if Israel actually wanted the US to do so. Instead, the presence of the US serves to validate the process in the first place, which is the obvious signal everyone else in the world wants.

    its like your ‘best buddy’ helping bullies give you a wedgie, saying afterwards, “Why, if i hadn’t been there, they might have gone further!”

    1. that article is mostly about Israel making fun of kerry; this one covers more of the “conference”

      Countries including key European and Arab states as well as the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council were in Paris for the conference, that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected as “futile”. Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians were represented.

      However, just five days before Trump is sworn in, the meeting was seen as a platform for countries to send a strong signal to the incoming American president that a two-state solution to the conflict could not be compromised on and that unilateral decisions could exacerbate tensions on the ground.

      The participants “call on each side … to refrain from unilateral steps that prejudge the outcome of negotiations on final-status issues, including, inter alia, on Jerusalem, borders, security, refugees and which they will not recognize,” the final communique said.

      A French diplomatic source said there had been tough negotiations on that paragraph

      I think part of this? is a recognition that in a few days, the US isn’t going to play this silly game anymore, and many of these people will be – conceptually at least – out of a job. These “strongly worded statements” have no one left to influence.

    2. My solution is to glass the entire region from orbit, and make it permanently uninhabutable. After we relocate everybody there to the middle of Australia.

      1. My solution is to glass the entire region from orbit, and make it permanently uninhabutable

        God already tried this. they came back.


    A student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was ordered held without bail Friday for allegedly keeping guns and ammunition in his dorm room, Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan’s office said.


    Police searched De La Cruz’s room after receiving information from an MIT counselor that he may have had guns on campus, officials said. Ferg declined to say why De La Cruz was receiving counseling.

    De La Cruz is listed on the MIT website as a senior electrical engineering and computer science major.

    Sarah McDonnell, an MIT spokeswoman, would not discuss the case or comment on De La Cruz’s enrollment status in light of the pending charges. Ferg said it was disclosed at Friday’s hearing that the school has suspended De La Cruz and barred him from campus.

    Icky thought criminal; unperson him!

    1. Ferg declined to say why De La Cruz was receiving counseling

      We can raid your dorm and confiscate your property but heaven forbid we violate your “privacy”.

      1. “What happens at MIT stays at MIT!”

      2. What do you want to bet the “counselor” assured him it was safe to talk to him about anything, before narcking him out?

    2. If he wasn’t mad before, he will be now.

  23. Isn’t a flight from SF to LA like $50?

    1. Dunno, since I never fly that route anymore; TSA has convinced me to drive.
      The claim is that the choo-choo won’t require TSA, which I’m sure is gospel to all those who think the tooth-fairy really does deliver.
      The rest of us know the first ‘scare’ and combined with an SEIU arm on the CA D legislators will mean hours-long boarding times for the choo-choo also, which will mean I still drive.

      1. LA-Oakland is still doable. Flights every 40 minutes or so.

        1. “Flights every 40 minutes or so.”

          I’ll miss the first one ’cause some fool on the Bay Bridge and the second ’cause I left my pocket knife in my pocket.
          And I’ll miss ’em all ‘case Harris Ranch French Dip.

      2. You’ve got Trump in the White House now. The TSA reports to him, so that shit won’t fly anymore.

        Right? [/sarc]

  24. Oh, look! Scary hypotheticals regarding the repeal of O-care:

    “This is what could happen if Obamacare is repealed”

    Pretty sure they left out the part where your insurance costs can drop, since pajama-boy didn’t sign up and pay your bill for you.

    1. I’m not going to read it….

      ..but, given that huge swaths of the previously uninsured were simply “people eligible for Medicaid being now enrolled”… wouldn’t any repeal/unfinding of the ACA still keep those people on the books?

      I know the Feds subsidize medicaid (tho its mostly state funded)… but i don’t really know how/whether states would change their own medicaid standards if the ACA was dropped. Whatever happens I presume that would be the source of most of the “dislocation” if so.

      The ‘individually insured’, e.g. the self-employed/freelancers/one-man-bands who shop for coverage on their own, i would assume to actually be a pretty small slice of the total claimed ‘beneficiaries’, and i’d guess that most of them (unless they suffer from pre-existing conditions) would actually see costs fall if they had the ability to choose non-ACA larded-up polices that don’t force them to buy pre-natal/substance abuse/mental health/underwater yoga coverage as well.

    2. Would you like a slightly more literate take from the BBC?

      1. It starts with a photo of a man with Testicular Cancer.

        The implicit suggestion being, “Take away Obamacare, and this man’s balls will kill him”

        1. I said “literate”. Not “objective” or “un-tendentious”.

          1. These guys didn’t hear you, either….

  25. Some of the money allocated for this boondoggle should be reallocated to a useful purpose of a psychological study of prongs love of choo-choo trains.

    1. a psychological study of prongs love of choo-choo trains.

      George Will, 2011 = “Why Liberals Love Trains

      you can find something like this written every year somewhere.

        1. What I was thinking too.

      1. Nice.

        Or there’s also the classic JSubD answer. They never got the model train sets they wanted as kids.

    2. They don’t want the peasantry just roaming around unsupervised.

  26. On behalf of all those of us that left California in the early eighties; “told ya so!!!”

  27. It’s a jobs program for union goons and connected contractors and suppliers. Uh, I mean, it gives people JOBS and helps the ENVIRONMENT. Here’s this week’s protection money, sir.

  28. Am I a homophobe for never wanting to drink Diet Dr Pepper after that commercial?

    1. Why, did you have the urge to drink diet Dr Pepper before seeing it?

  29. Honestly wouldn’t mind seeing Prescott get a ring but it’s excellent watching Rodgers operates. TOUCHDOWN

    1. Since the donkeys are out, I’m rooting for GB to win the super bowl

    2. What, no, “spittoon’? No, “commodius sine qua non”? No, “commodious toppo pocky”?

  30. One thing I’ve learned in life: no matter how nicely you try to phrase it, or even if it seems like you’re obviously doing the person a favor, people hate having their spelling corrected. They refuse to admit it but they ALWAYS resent it.

    I once worked for an Executive Chef at “the number one public golf resort in the world,” according to Golf digest. We changed our menu and he printed the new ones with the word ‘prosciutto’ misspelled. The average cost of a main course on this menu was $30-50. People were flying in from other countries (including Italy) to play golf and eat at this restaurant. I approached as gingerly and obsequiously as I could, so as not to bruise his fragile little delicate ego as I attempted to save him from embarrassing his own kitchen. Guess how that turned out?

    Just last week in the weed store, the girls who run my favorite shop had both ‘poison’ and ‘confidential’ misspelled one their giant dry-erase menu board. I mentioned it–again, very quietly and politely–in passing to the gal at the counter as she was already helping me, and she reacted like I was the biggest pain she’d ever had in her ass. The next time I went into this (now legal, profitable, and open-to-the-public) business, they still had those two basic easy words misspelled up on their giant menu board. Still too busy stuffing handfuls of cash into the register to care.

    TLDR: I might be a didactic moron, but fuck people.

    1. I’m as OCR as you on this, but my experience hadn’t been as bad as yours. Mostly those who I correct just don’t get why I think spelling matters. In a related matter I was on a bus tour of Arlington National Cemetary a few years ago. The tours are run by the Feds. The guide used an incorrect title for the position of Chief Justice of the United States. After the tour I got her alone and politely pointed out the error. She said “Oh well, it doesn’t matter. No one will notice.”

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  33. Even the feds believe the state is drastically understating the costs of it’s massive high-speed rail project, approved by voters years ago but with only a small portion of the project funded.

    It’s a truly frustrating issue, because we see very little evidence that this train can pay for itself after its built and will require subsidies in order to keep operating (despite their insistence otherwise).

    OK, Reason HAS to be trolling us, right?

  34. It would soothe me if people who wrote about rail transportation did not confuse the word ‘train’ with the word ‘railroad’. A ‘railroad’ is not a ‘train’. ‘Trains’ are vehicles which operate over ‘railroads’. Scott, please take note of this and you will sound more like a person who knows his subject.

    All this being said, government sponsored and operated railroads are almost always a disaster and a drain on the state treasury. Look what happened in Argentina after Peron. What is needed is not ‘high-speed’ rail, but moderate speed rail [

    1. lost half my post there

    2. This should be privately operated. And before the government involved itself in the business by building roads, it was privately operated. The Interstates are socialism at it’s finest.

      Also, the railroad is more modern than the truck or auto. The flanged wheel obviated the need for steering every wagon and thus obviates the need for a driver for every wagon. Yes, the railroad is 19th century. The highway is 1st century. Nothing about the cluster on the 405 which wouldn’t be familiar to a Roman except for the absence of donkeys.

  35. I love the idea of high speed rail in CA but running it from nowhere to nowhere is hard to understand. SF to LA, using the existing right of way, would make tons of sense.

    1. If you start with a segment people will use, the rest will never get built.
      If you start with a segment no one will use, eventually people will want to connect it all together.
      SF to LA was too far and hence too expensive for the first segment.

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  39. The frisky part of me wants the initial line built — as a monument that will rival the Pyramids as a useless government expenditure built on the backs of slaves.

    It might even have some residual tourist value, as people go to the Central Valley to marvel at the rusting lines and abandoned HSR trains decaying in the hot, dry California climate.

  40. It’s funny to read that the dogged proponents keep cutting back the HSR system while claiming it will still carry the same (fake figure) ridership. And I particularly enjoy their concern that “a few decades from now” their smaller train stations will not be sufficient to handle the swelling demand for HSR.

    It’s becoming apparent that these “bullet trains” will be incredibly expensive, much slower and far less used (to put it mildly) than promised. So the goal now is to pretend that ‘someday’ they will be in high demand.

    The good news is that “someday” we’ll close this boondoggle down, finally recognizing that HSR is a con job perpetuated by government bureaucrats, labor unions and the special interests that sell the trains to gullible buyers. That day can’t arrive soon enough.

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