The second long piece by Fresno Bee reporter Tim Sheehan on the immense contrast between what we were told a state bullet-train system would be like and how a like effort is playing out in Spain was deeply enjoyable for many reasons, starting with how it confirms that the new media conventional wisdom is growing stronger by the day: This thing is a joke. Now here’s hoping that this leads to the undermining of another conventional wisdom: the idea that Jerry Brown is the smartest, most responsible guy in Sacramento. By emerging as the bullet train’s most ardent advocate and ripping skeptical journalists as “declinists,” Jerry is the opposite: dumb and irresponsible. Yo, gov: These two traits in combination with egomania aren’t exactly an attractive package.
The key parts of Sheehan’s piece undermine claims that the bullet train system would be an engine for jobs and growth:
Barcelona transportation engineer Andreu Ulied … economist GermÀ Bel and others say the prospects for economic gains by high-speed rail cities are murky at best, and at worst the service could bleed commerce from smaller cities between larger destinations along the routes.
The Sheehan article also obliterates the idea that high-speed rail will be a massive, central player in moving Californians north and south:
In Spanish cities, high-speed trains drive tourism – the nation’s biggest industry – and business travel, the government says.
The article also brings up the obvious point that there are winners and losers in decisions about transportation infrastructure, something the California High-Speed Rail Authority wouldn’t admit even if its top officials were waterboarded at Guantanamo:
Bel, a professor of political economics at the University of Barcelona, said it’s much more likely that smaller cities along the line between Madrid and the larger destinations suffer economically because most of the travel and commerce by residents flows to the big cities.
This isn’t “declinist” alarmism. It’s straightforward journalism of the sort we could have used back in 2008 when the lies about the bullet train were being repeated uncrtically on the front pages and editorial pages of most of California’s biggest newspapers.
Joe Mathews is right when he takes Jerry to task for going after “straw men” with this critique.
But maybe the gov has a larger agenda. Trashing the media has helped revive the twice-all-but-dead presidential bid of Newt Gingrich. Is Jerry bashing journos to set the stage for yet another bid for the White House?
Like Newt, he thinks he’s the smartest man in all the land. Go for it, Jerry! Please!
Or just …. go.
Dystopian declinist C. Reed