by Crane-Station and cross-posted at Firedoglake/MyFDL on 9-18-2013
After receiving 70 billion dollars in funds approval from the government for a high speed rail track, not one bulldozer or shovel has touched the ground. There is yet another delay, due to some legal hyper-technicality involving the additional land that the new track will take, if you read the mainstream news. In plain English, the delay means that deals are being made, while government contractors lick their chops at the prospect of even more money for nothing.
But then, Elon Musk offered a solution: a San Francisco to Los Angeles hyperloop.
High speed rail seems to be problematic for republican-type folk, because it doesn’t involve Big Fossil Fuels. So when Elon Musk unveiled his new and updated proposal for a hyperloop, an elevated vacuum tube type of train, naturally, they forcefully opposed it. Musk’s hyperloop would get travelers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in just 35 minutes or so, roughly akin to the time it would take one to travel that distance, if one were to travel at the speed of sound. The technology is not new. China and other countries already have these types of trains.
The bottom line seems to be that while republicans do not care for high speed rail to begin with, they sort of had to choke it down, because it is an issue that is popular with voters. There was little choice but to choke down some infrastructure improvements, lest one not get elected. Having done that, the new plan was to spend 70 billion dollars on an outdated rail system, that would gobble land. That was so that they could have an excuse to say they are building infrastructure that is safe, cleaner and super-fast, while at the same time half-assing it, pocketing money, and insulting the poor and unemployed, over rounds of golf.
Tempers flared when entrepreneur Elon Musk had the temerity to update California Republicans’ half-assed, outdated, not-yet-started and expensive plan that only gave an appearance and nothing more. In a statement titled CA High-Speed Rail Caucus: Republican’s Attempts to Block High Speed Rail Would Derail Safety and Economy, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren bluntly summarized the Ca Republican agenda when she stated:
Republicans are pushing a job killing agenda focused on wasting billions in lost worker productivity and energy consumed tied up in highway and airport congestion—money that could be better used growing our economy.
For anyone who has ever lived in Southern California, improvements to infrastructure and transportation is a substantial improvement over living in a car. Spending most of the time on the roads is a life where one eats, changes clothes, talks to people, and makes major life decisions, all in a car; thirty-five minutes is the amount of time it takes to get out of the driveway, on a good day.
What is interesting about the hyperloop, which other countries rely on, rather than the outdated high-speed rail is, everyone could benefit from it. This is a situation where corrupt and non-corrupt alike could agree: jobs, cleaner environment; infrastructure that is kept in excellent condition.
The California balking and rejection of the hyperloop idea is indicative of how stagnant and broken our system really is.