Everyone’s entitled to have an opinion. Heaven knows, I have my own – on many issues. However, there is a huge difference between informed opinion and just the spouting off at the mouth type sans having any substance to back up what one opines on.
One of my all-time favorites has to do with the building of the high-speed rail system in the state of California. At least one dairy farmer in a news report had expressed that the high-speed train line, a part of which would be built across family owned property that, when open for service, would be so terrorizing to the dairy cows, that they wouldn’t be able to give milk. I would really like to know what batch of scientific evidence this conclusion was based on. Please, if you know, enlighten me.
All in how we interpret what we hear, read
For those not familiar, California’s is America’s first bullet train project to be voter-approved and publicly funded. Los Angeles and San Francisco are planned to be high-speed-railroad linked through the San Joaquin Valley (Phase I of the project) with future connection to Sacramento and San Diego (Phase II of the project), a system that is due to be 800 miles in length at full build-out.
Now there are those detractors who surmise that nothing beyond what is currently being constructed in the San Joaquin Valley connecting Madera with Wasco in the central and southern portions, respectively, will come to fruition if, for no other reason, than the belief the funds needed to finish the job, as it were, will not come forth. Question: Did such a situation ever stop the beginning of the construction on a highway when it was known at the time said construction started, that the money or monies to fund the completion wasn’t or weren’t fully in hand? I am hard-pressed to come up with an instance. But, oh, how many times I have heard the clarion call that the high-speed rail project should be sidelined due to the lack of availability of all of the funds upfront to completely cover the cost of construction. Let me count the number.
By that logic, no one should be allowed to finance the purchase of a car or home, due to, as it were, there being a lack of all funds on hand during time of signing. Ya think that’s why a concept known as “loans” was created? Or, is it that maybe, just maybe, there is this overarching paranoia among detractors about the risk in forging ahead on such a massive undertaking? Perhaps just like the misplaced fear of the aforementioned dairy farmer convinced of his cows being frightened by trains speeding past cow pastures and pens, under such conditions thus preventing said bovines from giving milk. To me, it’s nothing more than hearsay, conjecture and it’s silly. Yet, the conjecture keeps right on coming.
Case in point: In Sunday’s The Fresno Bee, columnist Bill McEwen penned what is titled: “Top 10 stories of the year.” Coming in at number 8 is: “High-speed rail is battered, but lives on.”
In this part, McEwen cites McClatchy’s Sacramento Bee political and commentary writer Dan Walters who opined: “‘All in all … it’s likely that the bullet train as envisioned, linking San Francisco and Sacramento in the north with Los Angeles and San Diego in the south, won’t materialize.’” In my way of thinking, it could just as well have been explained “it is likely that it will.” It is all in how we choose to see things. Would it be wrong to suggest the latter?
Interesting how McEwen sees things. He wrote: “Walters is right. Odds are that Californians won’t get the bullet-train system they voted for in 2008.” And, seemingly in the same breath, The Fresno Bee columnist proceeds to share with the paper’s readers that high-speed rail construction in the Valley continues with dollars in the hundreds of millions yearly being injected into the economy. Does that sound like a prescription for failure and grounds for not continuing to build the line beyond the Valley and through the Tehachapi Mountains and into southern California and across or through Pacheco Pass and into the South San Francisco Bay Area? Not in my book it doesn’t. If anything, sentiment like that kind seems to me to be just the type to inspire confidence. That right there to me is reason to keep moving forward.
The other primary justification is environmental. By 2040, according to projections, 33 million will be riding California bullet trains annually. Key word here: projections. And, they won’t all be Californians riding but a good many will and that means less impact on road and air travel, which, presumably, will result in far fewer greenhouse gas, criteria pollutant and toxic emissions releases. Moreover, the California high-speed rail project is being constructed using equipment that is among the cleanest-burning anywhere. Rare, if at all, that I hear this as it relates to road-building activity.
Opinions are a dime a dozen. Most everyone’s got one. But those that are based on facts – having facts to back them up, in other words – are, in my view, the ones that I see as credible and the people that have these, I have the utmost admiration and respect for.
And, for my money, it doesn’t get any more real than that!
Lower image above: California High-Speed Rail Authority
– Alan Kandel