Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bullet Train Boondoggle

By Marilyn M. Barnewall
September 19, 2010

The history of American high-speed rail may someday read like the history of American toilet paper.

I support high-speed rail (HSR) – properly done. That means a national system built by private investors, not rapid transit or some other excuse for rail service built here and there by a power-hungry federal government buying votes.

Like most things, toilet paper was not widely accepted until a new technology demanded it – sit-down flush toilets with indoor plumbing systems. And toilet paper solved a problem. Hotels found it a particularly helpful product. It made public restrooms accommodating – did the job.

So what does the history of toilet paper have to do with the current history of a new technology called high-speed rail? HSR is not new – the Japanese have had bullet trains since the 1960s. But it’s new to America. The reason it’s new is a political system that is power hungry and it doesn’t support what benefits the nation and the people.

My first high-speed rail article appeared in NewsWithViews on June 28, 2009. I wrote about the importance of private investors building it… we don’t need another industry taken over by government. They already own banks, insurance companies, the auto industry, healthcare – and we await the second shoe to fall on cap and trade. Since government owns the interstate highway system, owning HSR connects all the transportation system dots. With high-speed rail in its pocket, government can easily manipulate airlines… and movement. No. Forget toilet paper. I’m talking about the movement of citizens.

On February 3, 2010, I wrote another high-speed rail article. In that article, I said: “To make what I’m saying very clear, the Obama Administration is lying – intentionally or otherwise – to the American people.”

I pointed out that HSR bullet trains go 222 miles per hour (mph). During Obama’s State of the Union Speech a few days earlier, he announced a “high-speed rail” project in Florida: Tampa to Orlando. The two cities are 85 miles apart. Such short trips are usually (not always) rapid transit – which costs far less than HSR. From the cost estimates, American taxpayers may pay for HSR but will get the less expensive alternative: Rapid transit rail (RTR).

My Canada Free Press HSR article of October 26, 2009 noted: “The average speed of HSR trains is between 150 and 250 mph… RTR averages between 100 and 150 mph and traditional rail (Amtrak) averages from zero to 100 mph. HSR moves people across long distances very quickly. RTR takes people from a central HSR depot to a variety of locations.” In other words, HSR should be built right down the middle of the Florida peninsula – through Orlando continuing on to Miami – while RTR carries passengers from Orlando to Tampa. That’s a high-speed rail system. A bullet train traveling at 222 mph should travel long distances between stops letting rapid transit take care of the short hops.

Sudden HSR Publicity

On August 30, 2010, the Chicago Tribune published an article about HSR. It quoted Illinois State Senator Martin Sandoval, D-Chicago, who is Chairman of the Illinois Senate Transportation Committee. He said about the Administration’s promise of 110 mph rapid transit trains: “Bullet trains routinely operate at 150 to 220 mph. It's the performance level Illinois should be shooting for.”

Sandoval pointed out that Amtrak has “minimal expertise” with HSR but they don’t see a problem “at topping out at only 110 mph.” Of course they don’t! As the Tribune article points out, billions of dollars injected into Midwest rail service means saving a lot of Amtrak jobs. But that rail service is rapid transit or rapid rail, not HSR. Amtrak’s Acela Express that operates between Boston and Washington, D.C. gets up to 150 mph on small portions of that route… but that is RTR, not HSR.

The day after the Chicago Tribune article, Mark Belling, a guest host on Rush Limbaugh, did a ten minute monologue about high-speed rail and pork-barrel spending. Here’s what Belling said on the Limbaugh show, August 31, 2010:

“In my own state of Wisconsin, Obama is pushing a high-speed rail line between the cities of Milwaukee and Madison. They’re only 75 miles apart. When traffic is terrible it’s only a 90 minute drive… when it’s terrible. It’s usually a little bit less than that. It’s an annoying drive, but it’s do-able. He wants to put a high-speed bullet train there – a train that will go 115 miles per hour and maybe you’ll be able to complete the trip in an hour.

“The cost for this line – which is a little over 80 miles – is $810 million, paid for by the federal government. The leading Republican candidate for Governor in my state, Scott Walker, is running television ads saying he’ll kill the train if you elect him. Those ads are resonating across Wisconsin. He’s saying, ‘If you elect me, I’ll kill this pork they’re trying to give us’ – and he sees it as a winning political issue.”

Think about what Walker is saying. If government does high-speed rail, your state budget will have fewer dollars for busses and highways. You can find the Limbaugh radio transcript and the Chicago Tribune article at my HSR blog. My notes from a radio interview I did with Chuck Wilder are there and answer many high-speed rail questions.

The next week, the Boston Globe came out with a HSR article. What’s going on? I’ve been a lone voice on this for a long time. Regardless, the Globe article motivated me to do something I’ve been thinking about for some time.

I have decided that writing to Congressmen and U.S. Senators is a total waste of time. They don’t listen. If they did, they would not be so blind-sided by the emerging power of Tea Party groups. If we are going to force change, it must come at the state level. No one in Washington is listening, from the White House to Congress – and the Supreme Court has apparently lost its copy of the Constitution.

I wrote a letter about the high-speed rail boondoggle to every sitting Governor who will remain in office after the 2010 elections. And, I wrote to all Republican candidates running for governorships in all other states. I quoted the Tribune article and the Limbaugh monologue. I gave the address of my high-speed rail blog. They have the information.

While researching the names of gubernatorial candidates, I found that Ohio has been offered $400 million of our federal tax dollars for a train from Cincinnati to Cleveland via Columbus. One of John Kasich’s supporters (Kasich is running for Governor) sent me a 1935 train schedule proving the old steam engine used then made the trip in just over five hours. The Democrat plan gives Ohio a train that travels 39 mph and takes more than six hours to make the trip. It’s a four-hour drive.

You and I will pay for the $400 million boondoggle, but Ohio taxpayers will have to eat $17 million in red ink annually for years to come. No wonder Wisconsin’s gubernatorial candidate, Rick Walker, views this as an issue! He’s totally right!

NEWS ALERT (as Fox News would say): On September 13, 2010, a story from Reuters Shanghai announced “‘California will seek China's help in financing its high-speed rail system and welcomes bids from Chinese firms to help build it,’ Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Monday.”

If you’re jobless, you might want to focus on Governor Schwarzenneger’s comments: "We look to China to build our high speed rail…" Schwarzenegger told a gathering of U.S. businesses in Shanghai.” In case you didn’t get that, he said “We look to China to BUILD…” not finance, build. Now that will create a lot of American jobs, won’t it?

California, which entered its fiscal year without a budget signed into law, has financial problems that prevent its moving ahead with high-speed rail. The state doesn’t have the money for HSR and apparently President Obama doesn’t either – or Schwarzenneger wouldn’t be in Shanghai looking for funding, would he?

Remember when Richard Nixon first went to China and was lauded for “opening” trade between the two nations? When Chou En Lai received Nixon, he said “you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t have something we want.” Who has prospered more economically since those meetings? China? Or, the U.S.? Chou evidently got what he wanted. What could the Chinese want from Governor Schwarzenneger: California’s high-speed rail system as collateral for their investment?

To find the reasons why we need high-speed rail, please visit my blog. We need to insist on HSR and defeat this attempt to shove rapid transit down our throats. Consider this: The United Nation’s Agenda 21 calls for permanently moving people from rural areas to cities. The U.N. wants nations to house people in controlled areas – cities with condos above office buildings and people riding bikes to work, not driving on streets and highways, etc. Rapid transit enables that.

Is that why Democrats support RTR and lie to Governors and the public telling them it’s HSR? RTR enables governments around the world to control the movement of people. And all that uninhabited land makes land trusts – like the ones former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and others are so invested in – very powerful and profitable.

Properly done, high-speed rail could provide two million new jobs within two years – but "properly done" is defined as bullet trains that cross the nation at 222 mph, not a local that’s really rapid rail and stops every 75 miles – the 110 mph Amtrak retread crap.
And that brings me back to the history of toilet paper.

It appears Washington wants to control our movements… including where and how we go. If that doesn’t scare the – whatever – out of you, it should.

© 2010 Marilyn M. Barnewall - All Rights Reserved
Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall began her career in 1956 as a journalist with the Wyoming Eagle in Cheyenne. During her 20 years (plus) as a banker and bank consultant, she wrote extensively for The American Banker, Bank Marketing Magazine, Trust Marketing Magazine, was U.S. Consulting Editor for Private Banker International (London/Dublin), and other major banking industry publications. She has written seven non-fiction books about banking and taught private banking at Colorado University for the American Bankers Association. She has authored seven banking books, one dog book, and one work of fiction (about banking, of course). She has served on numerous Boards in her community.

Barnewall is the former editor of The National Peace Officer Magazine and as a journalist has written guest editorials for the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News and Newsweek, among others. On the Internet, she has written for News With Views, World Net Daily, Canada Free Press, Christian Business Daily, Business Reform, and others. She has been quoted in Time, Forbes, Wall Street Journal and other national and international publications. She can be found in Who's Who in America (2005-10), Who's Who of American Women (2006-10), Who's Who in Finance and Business (2006-10), and Who's Who in the World (2008).
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