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California's High-Speed Rail Disaster Is a 'Shot Across the Bow for the Green New Deal'

"The real battle in the Democratic Party is between reality and fantasy," says Chapman University's Joel Kotkin.

Former Gov. Jerry Brown was a steadfast supporter of the California's bullet-train boondoggle despite cost overruns, lawsuits, and a lack of private support. But in his first State of the State Address, current Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he would scale back the project.

"He's spit in Jerry Brown's eye," says Joel Kotkin, a fellow in urban studies at Chapman University.

Gov. Newsom says he'll push forward with one portion of the high-speed rail line—the stretch running from Bakersfield to Merced, or span of about 175 miles. But neither city is a big job center, and it's not a heavily traveled route. "This is the ultimate train to nowhere," says Kotkin.

He says that backers of the Green New Deal, a plan that would crisscross the country with new bullet trains, should take notice. "The real battle in the Democratic Party is between reality and fantasy. And this was a big win for reality," says Kotkin.

"Is any other state going to be as stupid as we are?"

Produced by Paul Detrick.

Photo of Gavin Newsom; Credit: Mike Blake/REUTERS/Newscom
Photos of Jerry Brown in legislature; Credit: Hector Amezcua/MCT/Newscom
Photo of Jerry Brown; Credit: Fred Greaves/REUTERS/Newscom
Photo of Joel Kotkin; Credit: Nick Agro/ZUMA Press/Newscom
Photo of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Credit: G. Ronald Lopez/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Photo of trains; Credit: Chapman University urban studies fellow Joel Kotkin says Governor Gavin Newsom's scaling back of a high-speed rail project in California is a shot across the bow for the Green New Deal, which hopes to use high-speed trains to combat the effects of climate change.

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Former Gov. Jerry Brown was a steadfast supporter of the California's bullet-train boondoggle despite cost overruns, lawsuits, and a lack of private support. But in his first State of the State Address, current Gov. Gavin Newsom annoucned that he would scale back the project.

"He's spit in Jerry Brown's eye," says Joel Kotkin, a fellow in urban studies at Chapman University.

Gov. Newsom says he'll push forward with one portion of the high-speed rail line—the stretch running from Bakersfield to Merced, or span of about 175 miles. But neither city is a big job center, and it's not a heavily traveled route. "This is the ultimate train to nowhere," says Kotkin.

He says that backers of the Green New Deal, a plan that would criscross the country with new bullet trains, should take notice. "The real battle in the Democratic Party is between reality and fantasy. And this was a big win for reality," says Kotkin.

"Is any other state going to be as stupid as we are?"

Produced by Paul Detrick.

Photo of Gavin Newsom; Credit: Mike Blake/REUTERS/Newscom
Photos of Jerry Brown in legislature; Credit: Hector Amezcua/MCT/Newscom
Photo of Jerry Brown; Credit: Fred Greaves/REUTERS/Newscom
Photo of Joel Kotkin; Credit: Nick Agro/ZUMA Press/Newscom
Photo of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Credit: G. Ronald Lopez/ZUMA Press/Newscom
Photo of Trains; Credit: Imagine China/Newscom

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  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    "Is any other state going to be as stupid as we are?"

    You betcherbooties. NYC, Seattle, Portland, Chicago are leading their states that way. It won't take long.

  • DenverJ||

    Don't forget Honolulu

  • JWatts||

    No, their waiting for AOC to connect up the train first.

  • wootendw||

    Most people are unaware that the US once had a viable, intercity passenger rail system as well as innercity mass transit systems - trolleys, buses and trains.

    Unfortunately, all that ended largely due to a socialist government transportation project, the Interstate Highway System. Yes, the IHS is socialist, perhaps not as socialist as government-built rail systems as people do supply their own private cars and trucks. But it is government-built, government-owned and required vast private property seizures under eminent domain laws. That makes it socialist.

    Once building the IHS began in the mid-1950s, educated people in cities started buying cars and houses in the suburbs. Businesses moved too. Innercity mass transit systems began to disappear or be taken over by now poverty-stricken innercity governments. There was no point in taking an intercity train anywhere because you now needed to rent a car once you arrived where you were going - might as well drive your own. Where towns once sprung up along the railways, they now spring up along the highways.

    Is there any going back? Only with privatization, preferably by creating a bunch of companies to hold the highway system as assets and distributing shares in those companies to the taxpayers. Perhaps some highways would revert to largely mass transit systems, self-driving vehicles, monorail, etc. But nothing good will happen if government does it because government uses other people's money and doesn't care about losses.

  • SIV||

    Interurbans, trolleys and passenger trains were on their way out before the construction of the interstate highway system.

  • creech||

    Not to mention extortionate property taxes on private r.r. facilties in states such as N.J. Some towns put a property tax on a station structure that was actually higher than the annual fares collected from passengers using that station.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Once building the IHS began in the mid-1950s, educated people in cities started buying cars and houses in the suburbs.

    Suburban housing started long before the mid-1950s; the demand spiked as men returned from the war and began migrating to places where they had been stationed, particularly in the Sun Belt.

    In fact, the whole point of many trolley systems was to allow the wealthy and upper-middle class to live in outside the polluted downtowns in housing developments that, while not considered to be the first "suburbs," essentially functioned as such.

  • Longtobefree||

    You calling Ike a socialist? Good luck with that.

    The Interstate Highway System gained a champion in President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was influenced by his experiences as a young Army officer crossing the country in the 1919 Army Convoy on the Lincoln Highway, the first road across America. Eisenhower gained an appreciation of the Reichsautobahn system, the first "national" implementation of modern Germany's Autobahn network, as a necessary component of a national defense system while he was serving as Supreme Commander Of Allied Forces in Europe during World War II.[14] He recognized that the proposed system would also provide key ground transport routes for military supplies and troop deployments in case of an emergency or foreign invasion.

    Of course, once politicians got their fingers in the pie, the connecting of military bases got transmorgified into connecting voter clusters.

  • DaveSs||

    Short distance intercity rail was abandoned by passengers because it was inconvenient.

    The car leaves when you want to. Rail leaves maybe a couple times a day, if that. Miss the train and you are SOL till tomorrow.

    Long distance intercity rail was abandoned by passengers because it was slow compared to aircraft, even if flying was expensive. Airline deregulation making flying cheaper made rail even more useless to passengers.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    As people get wealthier, they spend more on themselves -- better houses, better food, better entertainment, better clothes .... and better transportation.

    Few people in 1700 had window curtains. They sure didn't have jobs to commute to. The women spent 90% of their time spinning thread, weaving cloth, and sewing clothes.

    No one in 1900 spun thread or wove cloth, and few sewed their own clothes. They all had window curtains. Some had jobs to commute to, in factories or offices. They walked or took the trolley because that's all they could afford.

    In 2000, some people sewed their own clothes for fun, and they knew it cost more than store bought. Everyone that could had a car for commuting, but city dwellers couldn't afford the parking fees, and either had no car or at least didn't commute in it. They didn't like buses and trolleys and subways, but it was all they could afford.

  • Juice||

    The car leaves when you want to.

    Ah, but if there's enough traffic it doesn't arrive when you want to. And a parking spot may not be where you want it or at all.

  • theomore||

    Ike was pretty clear on the need for a federal highway system as a part of national defense. He also saw that it would increase interstate commerce. I do not think that Dwight was a socialist.

  • AlmightyJB||

    The left doesn't care about your facts. It's more important for them to feel morally superior than to be factually correct. I'm not sure how that actually works inside their puny brains but it is what it is. Logic won't work with them.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Many are given to delusional states. Which is why they grow angry when we debate them. Poking at the delusion is upsetting to their kind. Progressivism also attracts lots of sociopaths and psychopaths, as a lack of fixed moral standards is not problematic to progressives.

  • DrT||

    I just recently lived in CA for three years. They won't recognize this as a shot across the bow. A good portion of the State's population is shockingly disconnected from the reality of growing food, interstate commerce to distribute it and other goods and making a payroll. They can't be confused by data or experience that some ideas don't work very well. It won't affect their belief in the green new deal because that is based on faith.

  • fiftyville||

    The California high-speed rail mess is a perfect example of the leftist clownthink that passes for intelligence on the Left.

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    It isn't a disaster if California voters are too stupid to hold their politicians responsible for moving the hairbrained scheme forward. It's just the way things are done in that hellhole.

  • Nuwanda||

    Won't make any difference. The statists already believe the revolution has no cost. When Cortez said it she was only saying what they've always believed. It's about survival, and how can that have a cost since the alternative is death?

    Shows how out of touch most freedom advocates are when they think that such obvious failures mean a thing in the grander scheme. If decades of oppression, hunger and suffering in various regimes haven't been enough of a lesson, then this sure as hell won't be. They weren't, and it ain't.

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