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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Edward Ring

Why Aren’t Unions Fighting California’s Bullet Train Boondoggle?

Back in 2008, voters in California approved Prop. 1, a statewide initiative to spend, “$9 billion for building a new high-speed railroad between San Francisco and Los Angeles.”

Total cost, $9.5 billion. Remember that?

Quoting further from the original initiative’s ballot language:

“Bond Costs. The costs of these bonds would dependon interest rates in effect at the time they are sold andthe time period over which they are repaid. The statewould make principal and interest payments from thestate’s General Fund over a period of about 30 years.If the bonds are sold at an average interest rate of 5percent, the cost would be about $19.4 billion to payoff both principal ($9.95 billion) and interest ($9.5billion). The average repayment for principal andinterest would be about $647 million per year.Operating Costs. When constructed, the high-speedrail system will incur unknown ongoing maintenanceand operation costs, probably in excess of $1 billion ayear. Depending on the level of ridership, these costswould be at least partially offset by revenue from farespaid by passengers.” (ref.UC Hastings ScholarshipRead More

Edward Ring

Desalination Plants vs. Bullet Trains and Pensions

Current policy solutions enacted to address California’s water crisis provide an object lesson in how corruption masquerading as virtue is impoverishing the general population to enrich a handful of elites. Instead of building freeways, expanding ports, restoring bridges and aqueducts, and constructing dams, desalination plants, and power stations, California’s taxpayers are pouring tens of billions each yearinto public sector pension funds – who invest 90% of the proceeds out-of-state, and the one big construction project on the table, the $100B+ “bullet train,” fails to justify itself under virtually any credible cost/benefit analysis. Why?

The reason is because infrastructure, genuinely conceived in the public interest,lowersthe cost of living. This in-turn causes artificially inflated asset values to fall, imperiling the solvency of pension funds – something that would force them to reducebenefits. Beneficial infrastructure is also a threat to crony capitalists who don’t want a business climate that attracts competitors. Affordable land, energy, and water encourage economic growth. Crony capitalists and public sector unions alike hide… Read More

Edward Ring

Construction Unions Should Fight for Infrastructure that Helps the Economy

One primary reason California has the highest cost-of-living (and cost of doing business) in America, combined with a crumbling infrastructure, is because California’s construction unions have allied themselves with environmental extremists and crony “green” capitalists, instead of fighting for what might actually help their state.

California’s construction unions ought to take a look around the rest of the country, where thousands of jobs are being created in the energy industries – really good jobs – doing something that actually helps ordinary people. Because the natural gas revolution unleashed inNorth Dakota, Texas, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio is creating thousands of jobs in those states at the same time as it lowers the cost of energy for consumers who struggle to make ends meet.

More generally, construction unions should remember that it is not only how much their own members earn that matters, but how much things cost everyone. If things cost less, you can make less yet enjoy the same standard of living. When unions fight for high paying jobs on projects that are useless, they only help… Read More