Why Vote for Proposition 1A? Because of the Stupid Economy!   October 22nd, 2008

Editorial by Noel T. Braymer

There are three good reasons for voting for Prop 1A. They are jobs, jobs and jobs. Expanded high speed, intercity and commuter rail passenger services will create jobs from construction, in the operation of rail service and from the economic development that improved transportation creates. At the heart of the current recession and all economic downturns is the fact that consumers are not spending money. The reason for this is simple; people don’t have money to spend. The solution is to this is to create jobs so people have spending money. The problems we have now like banks running out of money, going out of business and people losing their homes happened before in the 1930’s. So what happened back then? Things got built, like Hoover Dam, the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge which created jobs. Many of these and other projects were built with borrowed money. How can we do this when our current problems are from to much debt? Well the problems in the 1930’s were caused by the same problems we have now: too much money was borrowed to gamble on speculation which disappeared when the speculative bubble burst. When you invest borrowed money in things with concrete value and worth, you create wealth. This is what it means to spend money to make money.

There are people who question the need for high speed rail service or even the safety of rail passenger service in California. Prop 1A is much more than running trains in 2 ½ hours between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The existing railroad between Irvine through downtown Los Angeles to Sylmar and the railroad between Gilroy and San Francisco will be rebuilt with Prop 1A funding. This will increase the safety of not just high speed trains, but also of other passenger trains and at the road crossings in these areas. Eliminating grade crossing will be a benefit to drivers by reducing traffic congestion and improving road safety too.  This will mean full grade separation, greater safety with improved rail signaling and where there is heavy freight traffic there will be separate tracks for passenger trains from freight trains. In addition almost a billion dollars of the Prop 1A bond money will go for capital projects to improve intercity and commuter rail services. This bond money will be used with matching funds so for just non high speed rail we are looking at close to 2 billion dollars. The state bonds won’t be sold until there is matching funding from other sources.

So where might this matching funding come from? Congress recently passed a rail safety bill which also included Amtrak funding and goals for major rail passenger service improvements around the country. Now this bill doesn’t include money for these proposed projects. But there is growing interest in Washington for improved rail passenger service. Passing this bond issue will put California first in line as money comes available. So why build high speed rail now?  A successful high speed rail service needs connections to local rail services to carry enough passengers to succeed. Just ten years ago California didn’t have the basic rail passenger service to make high speed rail viable. Now we are in a much better position to support high speed rail. Connecting existing transit, commuter and intercity rail services with high speed rail will greatly increase rail ridership across the state.

The greatest danger to America’s security is not the Middle East or Russia: it is weather change! Continuing to burn fossil fuels without reducing methane and carbon dioxide emissions will result in increasing drought in the West and raising sea levels which will flood many parts of this country and the world. We have to get off of an oil based economy. If you consider Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia or Venezuela as threats to the United States, then consider that all these countries are major oil producers. The high oil prices in the last few years greatly enriched these countries and embolden them. The recent economic slowdown has seen a dramatic drop in the price of oil. The recent drop of the price of oil has had more impact on these countries than all the military activity by this country in the last ten years. Wouldn’t it be better if we could defuse the oil weapon by eliminating our need for it? Better yet if we can do it without a depression but instead see economic growth and cleaner air?

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at 11:39 AM and is filed under Editorials.