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Anticipating the upcoming Great California High-Speed Rail Disaster of 2013+.

“+” because this this is going to crash and burn for years. 

Let me summarize this LA Times article discussing the looming …singularity… of fiscal destruction.

  • California wants a high-speed rail system which will apparently solve all of their problems (“Then why don’t they have one, already?” “Because shut up, that’s why”).
  • This is scheduled to cost 68 Billion dollars. $68,000,000,000.
  • It will cost more.
  • Meanwhile, the state is deep in debt – and it’s an open question whether Jerry Brown and his Merry Band of Democrats have actually managed to stabilize revenues.
  • For example, I am waiting (with more than a little morbid curiosity) to see what California’s actual 1Q 2012 tax revenues are like. I suspect that they’re going to be… memorable.
  • But let’s get back to the high-speed rail. It’s not built yet.
  • That’s fine; construction isn’t supposed to start for another six months…
  • Oh, wait, not all of the land for the railway has been purchased, yet.
  • Oh, wait, none of the land for the railway has been purchased, yet.
  • Which is why the start of construction has already been delayed.

This is the part from the LA Times that I want to quote:

The land purchases are waiting on the hiring of a team of specialized contractors, but they cannot start their work until the rail agency gets approval from another branch of the state bureaucracy. About 400 parcels are needed for the first construction segment, a 29-mile stretch from Madera to Fresno.

The formal offers will start an eminent domain action, the legal process for seizing land from private owners. The owners have 30 days to consider the offer, and then the state must go through a series of steps that can add 100 more days of appeals and hearings, assuming the state can get on the court calendar, according to Robert Wilkinson, an eminent domain litigator in Fresno. If the state fails to convince a judge that a quick takeover of property is justified, formal trials could stretch on for 18 months, he added.

“I would think a lot of these are going to end up in litigation,” he said. “It is a tight schedule, no question about it.”

But wait, there’s more!

  • Agricultural land – which would generally be a good choice for eminent domain, on the principle that nobody’s living there (thus making the whole thing look better for the cameras) – has risen in value quicker than the state of California has expected.
  • But the state of California can’t just arbitrarily raise their eminent domain offer in response. There are rules. Dear God in Heaven, but there are rules.
  • And, of course, there are lawsuits pending, permissions required on the both the state and federal level, and a general hurry-up-hurry-up-hurry-up stance being taken by the Obama administration on getting this program on the ground and choo-chooing with all due speed. Because Barack Obama doesn’t live in California, and he doesn’t really care what their problems are.

In short: when this thing blows up in the California legislature’s and governor’s faces, feel the warmth of knowing that you were told, six months or so before anybody else, that the entire thing was going to collapse in a hot mess of red tape and unpaid bills. Unless you live in California: then you have my sympathies. I have zero desire to pay for this disaster, but sympathy is still free. Well, at least until the California legislature manages to slap a tax on that.

(H/T: Hot Air Headlines)

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: It may seem cruel to openly display the schadenfreude on this one; but then, the California electorate presumably knew what it was up to when they elected these bozos. Also, to quote the classics: “Fragile things, dropped from a great height, make a nice sound.”

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