I figured it'd be a while before I looked at a news story about California and thought, "Those idiot Californians."
Nuts to sugar coating (and the readership shouts, agape, "You were sugar coating before?!") now that I feel psychologically free of California, I don't even have to pull punches to keep myself from jumping off one of California's beautiful, majestic, and brilliantly preserved cliffs.
High Speed Rail doesn't exist.
It's a fleece, a flim-flam, a fraud, a hoax, a shake-down, and lots of other words from the thesaurus.
It isn't legislation, it isn't badly planned, there aren't a few bad apples, there isn't someone "skimming off the top."
This is a long con. Ever see The Sting?
Everyone is in on it except the public. The hundreds of Sacramento lamprey eels from the highest appointees to the Board of Important Stuff, down to Joe Blow dirt shoveler union member #6724 of the International Brotherhood of Dirt Relocation Specialists.
They set up the con, telling you what it's going to be. How amazing it will look, how it'll grow hair on the bald, cure AIDS, clean your room, and walk your dog. They actually DO work on this part. They spend money and time building an impeccable presentation with 3D models, artists renditions, and pies in the sky, all backed up with reams and reams AND REAMS of paperwork from people who are in on the scam, telling you that you can't live without this, and you'd be an idiot to pass on this opportunity. This is all backed up expert "plants" who step out of the audience and say, "I'm an expert, and everything this man says is completely true!" Followed my murmurs of ascent (murmured by more plants in on the scam).
"Well," thinks you, "Everyone seems to agree with these people. I suppose I must just be stupid for questioning this. I'd better agree too, lest my peers think me thick."
Then everyone clamors for the snake oil. Except, snake oil would have been too kind to the dupes. One big hit of cash isn't enough. They get to slow bleed the mark for years if not decades, because they're not selling a thing, they're selling an idea. And that idea needs multiple installments of money, and constant improvement, and maintenance.
After the vote, the public's part in the scam has ended, and the bloodletting begins.
Committees are formed, and directorships, and organizations, and boards, and teams, and groups, and lots of other words from the thesaurus. And all these groups need office workers, and marketing, and public relations, and lawyers, and office space, and lunches, and computers, and HVAC work, and desks, and conferences, and carp, and anchovies, and orangutans, and breakfast cereals, and all these things are bought through contractors and political contributors who are also in on the scam (though lower on the totem pole).
Then when any of this work is actually done, it suffers delays, and comes in over budget, and racks up contractual penalties, and spawns lawsuits, and usually never gets done. Which means the next firm must come in to do the work, and do the same thing to gather their percentage of the scam winnings.
So it is that the legislator writes an extra sentence into the bill with a wink and a nod, and the lobbyists tell their client contractors how to exploit the sentence with a wink and a nod, and the contractors plan the job to get the additional payout with a wink and a nod, and the dirt relocation specialist moves half a shovel of dirt and signals to his boss that he's taking his 4 hour lunch with a wink and a nod.
All the way down.
Every single one of them.
Playing their parts in The Sting.
Gorging themselves on the scam's winnings.
Circling wagons and promising empty when questions arise.
And eventually, when the host withers and dies, the parasites detach, pick a new target, and with a wink and a nod formulate their next presentation.
The high speed rail does not exist any more than the beachfront timeshare in Arizona you just bought. You haven't used it in the years since you bought it, but you're sure that one day you'll visit.