But not on the high-speed train, Arnie!
Once upon a time there was a land that was so rich, one of its congressmen could afford to spend $600 on an airplane ticket for his bunny rabbit.
Yes, it’s true!
Or at least it’s true according to Federal prosecutors, and that will all get sorted out in court, I guess.
But that’s how rich this land is!
In fact it’s so rich, that’s it’s spending billions – yes, billions – of dollars on a choo-choo train that goes nowhere! And it’s going nowhere for a long, long time, maybe forever!
Welcome to the land of California where, in 2008, a bunch of suckers, I mean voters, said “yes” to Prop 1A, the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century.
Wow, that’s a long name!
That meant the people in this rich land were OK with pledging $9,950,000,000 to partly pay for a high-speed train.
Wow, that’s a lot of zeros!
But that was only partly. In 2008 when the proposition was passed, the California High-Speed Rail Authority guesstimated the total cost of the project at $40,000,000,000.
Wow, that’s even more zeros!
Where’s all the rest of that money coming from?
It was supposed to come from other sources like the federal government (meaning your tax dollars), private investment (which hasn’t materialized), and something called “cap-and-trade auctions,” a system meant to limit carbon emissions by selling credits to pollute.
What’s it all mean?
It meant that someday, we’d be zipping around on a high-speed train to go even faster from one ever-more-polluted city to another!
But the people of California were cool with that, because it meant we’d have a high-speed train that could take us from Los Angeles to San Francisco in less than three hours!
And when you’re driving, that’s a trip that can take anywhere from eight hours to eight days, depending on traffic.
Then in 2011 our friends at the High-Speed Rail Authority had a surprise for us!
They issued a new cost estimate of $98,500,000,000 to $118,000,000,000.
There we go with all those zeros again!
When Prop 1A was passed in 2008, the high-speed train’s completion date was 2029, which seemed like a long time to wait a train to come.
Now that opening date has been pushed back to 2033.
That’s a really long time to wait for a train to come!
But that’s OK. Because in the meantime you can follow the high-speed train’s excruciatingly slow progress on Twitter…
And its own page on the State of California website…
And you can call it by its nickname: The Bullet Train To Nowhere.
Wow, that’s a fun nickname!
And lots of people have another name for it:
Do you know what a “boondoggle” is?
“A work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value.”
“A public project of questionable merit that typically involves political patronage and graft.”
Do you know what “graft” is?
“Practices, especially bribery, used to secure illicit gains in politics or business; corruption.”
While Californians will have to wait until (at least) 2033 to zip from Los Angeles in San Francisco in less than three hours, in (maybe) 2022, we’re told, Phase 1 of the high-speed rail will be complete.
You’ll be able to zip from Bakersfield to Fresno in – well, in a big hurry!
Though why anybody would be in a big hurry to get to Bakersfield or Fresno is a mystery to me.
Do you know what a “mystery” is?
“Something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain.”
In the dictionary, here’s the picture that illustrates “mystery”:
Finally, I’ll close with this final thought, recently verified by PolitiFact, with regards to how California politicians choose and don’t choose to spend our tax dollars: