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Vote-Buying on High Speed Tracks

In Sunday’s Tampa Tribune, this Ted Jackovics article harped on High Hopes For High-Speed Rail, hoping for a rail line that would connect the two major cities in central Florida, Tampa and Orlando:

TAMPA – As key political factors fall in place, Tampa, Lakeland and Orlando are leading contenders to launch the nation’s first true high-speed rail corridor, with 150 mph trains running by 2014.

On Friday, 40 states will file detailed high-speed rail project applications with the Federal Railroad Administration. In December, President Barack Obama will announce which will get money from the $787 billion federal stimulus plan to generate jobs.

If Florida gets the $2.5 billion it seeks, it will represent a stunning reversal of political fortunes – after 25 years of promise and setbacks – that will provide thousands of new jobs as early as 2011, when construction on the 95-mile Tampa-Orlando segment could begin.

Potential drawbacks – including construction and operations costs and how much demand there might be to pay $30 for a 64-minute ride from Tampa to Orlando International Airport – appear to have been relegated to the background.

Why? The prospects of jobs – at a time when it’s common for hundreds of people to vie for a handful of positions.

“High-speed rail will bring an unprecedented number of new jobs to Florida, with the overriding goal of supporting the federal recovery plan,” said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, who has participated in several White House discussions on the topic this year.

The fact that a government boondoggle may employ people does not necessarily mean that it will “create jobs,” a fact that escapes the Obama Administration, Rep. Castor, and those who would prefer the landscape and transportation options of Floridians be planned by their superiors. How many jobs are lost when the government diverts dollars away from productive business and into things like high speed rail? Many proponents of such largess tout what a great “investment” such projects are, yet are inexplicably quiet when asked why private capital has not swarmed on such opportunities.

But perhaps “investments” and “jobs” are not the motivating factor behind the billions of dollars in subsidized trips to Disney World that are on queue:

Construction could begin as early as 2011, providing the Obama administration with potential political gains in an important presidential election swing state.

The I-4 corridor, as the inter Tampa-Orlando area is known, is the swing area of one of the major electoral swing states. The fact that President Obama will be trying to buy off the votes of Lakeland, Bartow, and Kissimmee should be disquieting. Many in Florida, and especially at the Trib, are more than happy to take billions of dollars in transportation welfare. However, one would wonder if such cheerleaders will be so supportive when Florida is sufficiently bought and paid for by the Democrat party, and Floridians’ tax dollars are sent to bribe some other state.

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