URLs du Jour

2019-02-13

[Amazon Link]

  • A Reuters-quoting Slashdot story: California Will Not Complete $77 Billion High-Speed Rail Project.

    California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Tuesday the state will not complete a $77.3 billion planned high-speed rail project, but will finish a smaller section of the line. "The project, as currently planned, would cost too much and take too long. There's been too little oversight and not enough transparency," Newsom said in his first State of the State Address Tuesday to lawmakers. "Right now, there simply isn't a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to (Los Angeles). I wish there were," he said. Newsom said the state will complete a 110-mile (177 km) high-speed rail link between Merced and Bakersfield. In March 2018, the state forecast the costs had jumped by $13 billion to $77 billion and warned that the costs could be as much as $98.1 billion.

    California planned to build a 520-mile system in the first phase that would allow trains to travel at speeds of up to 220 miles per hour in the traffic-choked state from Los Angeles to San Francisco and begin full operations by 2033. Newsom said he would not give up entirely on the effort. "Abandoning high-speed rail entirely means we will have wasted billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises and lawsuits to show for it," he said. "And by the way, I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump."

    Things to note: (1) Invocation of the sunk cost fallacy shows that Governor Newsom is only half-smart; (2) Federal taxpayers (not "Donald Trump") are being played for suckers, again.

    California previously threw up its collective hands on single-payer health care. Now high-speed rail.

    My question: Among the states, California's GDP is the highest by far. If they can't make Green New Deal fantasies work there, how can they work anywhere?


  • At National Review, Charles C.W. Cooke notes something about the Green New Deal — There Is None.

    What Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has thrust upon our national conversation is not, in any sense, a “Green New Deal.” It does not resemble a Green New Deal. It does not approximate a Green New Deal. It does not so much as represent the shadows or the framework or the embryo of a Green New Deal. It is, instead, the inchoate shopping list of a political novice who has managed to get herself elected to Congress and believes that this has turned her into a visionary.

    As is her prerogative, Ocasio-Cortez can name her work as she sees fit. But her document is in no manner a “plan.” It is in no context a “program.” It is in no way an “approach.” It is not an outline, a manifesto, a statement, or a catechism. It is, rather, an all-compassing wish list — an untrammeled Dear Santa letter without form, purpose, borders, or basis in reality. It is not even “green,” except in that peculiar, mind-wrecking way that “intersectionality” seeks to make everything part of everything else, and thus leads to Planned Parenthood insisting that “Net Neutrality is reproductive justice” and to the Democratic Socialists of America proclaiming that we can’t possibly fix our algae problems until we institute union card check. Debates over the minutiae may fill the hours on cable news, but it does not, in fact, much matter whether the FAQ had been perfectly edited before release, or whether the PDF had been appropriately updated by its author, or whether the language in section 2, subsection 5 had been properly reviewed by the committee. It does not matter, either, whether Ocasio-Cortez eventually manages to get half the press corps or all of the press corps to cover for her disingenuousness. FAQ or not, the work deserves no serious evaluation beyond grim, derisive laughter. Clearly panicked by what Ocasio-Cortez was doing to her nascent majority’s agenda, Speaker Pelosi described the document disparagingly as a “green dream.” Tangerine Dream would have been closer to the mark. But Edgar Froese had talent.

    We are lucky to have Charles as an American.


  • The WaPo's Megan McArdle has an interesting point: Democrats are learning to copy Trump. Uh-oh. Her observations, based on Sandy Ocasio-Cortez's "gaslighting" effort to deny the wacky FAQ verbiage about farting cows, etc.

    Someone in the Ocasio-Cortez office had forgotten to remove a parenthetical note clearly meant for internal consumption: “We will begin work immediately on Green New Deal bills to put the nuts and bolts on the plan described in this resolution (important to say so someone else can’t claim this mantle).” Even more embarrassing, the FAQ implied that the deal would ultimately ban air travel and scour the country clean of cows.

    It was an inauspicious launch for the signature new initiative of the Democratic Party’s signature new star. Instead of confessing that they were still learning how policymaking works, Ocasio-Cortez apparently decided to just pretend it hadn’t happened — not in the sense of ignoring the gibes and hoping to live it down but in the sense of an Obi-Wanian “these are not the droids you’re looking for.”

    Megan notes that, mostly, the GOP has cravenly gotten behind President Trump's narcissistic exaggerations and arrogant lies. And now, she wonders, are the Democrats about to perform the same maneuver for Sandy?


  • Also at the WaPo, Charles Lane remains fact based, asking and answering the musical question: Can a bitter policy argument be settled by the real world? For once, yes.

    In terms of total revenue, Boeing, the aerospace giant, had its best year ever in 2018, with worldwide sales of $101.1 billion.

    Exports were particularly robust. Commercial jet deliveries to foreign airlines rose from 763 in 2017 to 806 last year. Overall, the company has a 5,900-order backlog for airplanes worth a staggering $412 billion, according to The Post last week.

    Congratulations, Boeing! You have created jobs for workers and value for shareholders. The only losers might be your Washington lobbyists. Their argument that Boeing and other U.S. makers of big-ticket manufactured products cannot compete internationally without taxpayer help, in the form of government-guaranteed credit from the Export-Import Bank, has been badly undercut.

    Bottom line: the sky didn't fall when the ExIm Bank's lending powers were curtailed in 2015, for Boeing or any other company. Time to pull the plug totally.


  • At Cato, Chris Edwards looks at Elizabeth Warren's plea to raise Taxes on [the] Tippy Tippy Top.

    U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren told CNBC the other day: “I want these billionaires to stop being freeloaders … I want them to pick up their fair share.”

    Are billionaires freeloaders? To get an idea, we can look at IRS data on the Top 400 taxpayers in the nation with the highest incomes.

    The Top 400 paid $29.4 billion in federal income taxes in 2014, an average of $74 million each. These “freeloaders” together paid enough to more than fund the budgets of NASA and the EPA that year ($26 billion).

    Anyone who talks about "fair share" taxation is a scammer.