Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Today in high speed rail: As the choo choo churns

Because everybody just loves high speed rail we have this from Gregg Pollowitz at Planet Gore:

Fox News has a handy tax calculator up so you can see how many of your tax dollars will go to this $53 billion boondoggle. For example, if your income is $100,000, then $654.60 goes for the high-speed choo-choo.

To put this 654.60 in perspective, its 85 miles between Tampa and Orlando, the high-speed route that Gov. Scott of Florida just refused Federal funds to develop. With a car getting 20 mpg burning $4 a gallon gas, the trip would cost roughly $17 if you drove. So it would take 40 trips between Tampa and Orlando to equal the tax burden in our example — and that doesn’t include the cost of the rail ticket.

What’s more, the $53 billion doesn’t finish ANY rail project; it just gets the country pregnant with high-speed rail. The faster high-speed rail heads to the ash heap of history, the better.

Even better, if you prefer train travel then a family of four can go from Tampa to Orlando for a mere $30.00. Of course then you have to pay for parking in Tampa and pay to get around in Orlando and pay another $30.00 to get home but hey, the train is there for the riding. Nobody does, thus Amtrak is flat busted and were it not for the generosity of the American people who donate a portion of every paycheck to the government which in turn lavishes it upon the fiscally inept Amtrak, the company would be no more. What we really need is TWO of these money losers, right? Why limit yourself when you are using other people’s money.

I’ve never gotten anyone to explain why they believe that high speed rail would succeed where Amtrak failed. Proponents of rail dismiss concerns about cost overruns, lack of ridership and the need for taxpayer subsidies to cover operational costs but let’s look at California’s experience with that state’s high speed rail project and see if those concerns might be justified (emphasis added):

This peer review group, which was organized by the legislature, noted the following major problem areas.

- Funding is unreliable, especially considering the wobbly conditions of the state's finances and the certainty that the federal government will not give nearly as much as initially predicted. Also, Republicans in DC have said they will attempt block any and all federal funding.

- Costs have already soared enormously. But we already knew that. The initial bond issue in 2008 approved by voters was for $9.95 billion. But costs are already at $40 billion and rising. Also, it's unclear whether the bond measure can include revenue guarantees for investors. This will probably be decided in court.

- Ridership and revenue projections are unrealistic. This directly affects the ability to raise money from private investors, who will want to know precisely how they will be paid back.

- The California High-Speed Rail Authority is seriously understaffed and lacking in accountability. The roles of the various parties are undefined and unclear. This can and will only lead to chaos, as well as cost overruns and the inevitable lawsuits.

Is it any wonder that California has its hand stretched out for the money the Gov. Rick Scott turned down? Too bad the people in California fell for a load of cow manure but honestly, better them then us.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Headlines that warm the cockles of my heart

Indiana GOP lines up behind Lugar's primary challenger

Talk smack about the Tea Party, get a challenger.  What a shame.  We're "getting real", Senator.

Fugitive Democrat Senators From Wisconsin Could Face Felony Charges

Dereliction of duty and pissin' on the people.  Kick them out, fire the teachers and take the licenses away from the doctors who wrote fake excuses.

SEC busts global warming fraud

Oh, nos.  It can't be.  Al Gore says the sky is falling.  Follow the money.

If This Is Monday, It Must Be Time for Another ‘Death of Blogging’ Story

Okay, for personal reasons I've been on a prolonged break but don't take that as a sign that I am down and out.  How about the rest of you?

"The Left is reacting with all the grace of an alcoholic denied the bottle."

No need to insult alcoholics.

Libya: Gaddafi Regime on the Brink, Uprising Reaches Tripoli — UPDATE: Gaddafi Flees Tripoli, Parliament Set on Fire

Yeah, but is the Lockerbie Bomber still living in the lap of luxury? Fails

Damn shame.  Damn dirty shame.  Too many of us for you?

Heavily Democratic states cut in half since 2008: Gallup

Earlier, in the comments at Legal Insurrection I said, "Hippies never die. We just grow up, get jobs, have families and see the light."  People are seeing the light.  Batten the hatches and buckle your seat belts, Lefties.  It is going to be one bumpy ride.

Sorry, that's it.  I'm bushed.  First I got lost driving in  Tampa today and then I got lost walking in Tampa.  To the nice man who gave me directions while I was walking, sent me ten blocks out of my way and laughed at me when I finally made it to the rally-screw you..

Sexy students

Sexy students don't need to know no stinkin' economics, they go straight from Mommy and Daddy's dime to the government's dime. 

The young girls with the "sexy students" signs were among the about three dozen supporters of high speed rally that gathered in downtown Tampa today.  You would never know it from reading the rally coverage at but those of us who stand with Gov. Rick Scott in opposition to high speed rail outnumbered the pro rail forces about four to one. 

For those of you who are unaware of the controversy here, the voters have repeated voted against funding high speed rail in Florida.  Gov. Scott, acting on the will of the people and with the state's long term fiscal health in mind, turned down 2.4 billion federal dollars for high speed rail in Florida.  Sen. Bill Nelson (D FL) and Rep. Kathy Castor (D FL11), two people who have never given a rat's ass about the will of the people let alone the fiscal health of this state and nation, are trying to do an end run around our governor and force the people of Florida to accept the federal dollars.  Both Castor and Nelson are heavily beholden to the unions and the jobs that proponents of rail keep touting would be taxpayer funded union jobs not private sector jobs.

What we are experiencing in Florida is not unlike what is happening in Wisconsin, only on a smaller (for now) scale.  Special interest groups are trying to dictate policy-taxpayers and our future be damned.  Gov. Scott has been the subject of vicious attacks since he took a principled stand against the waste of taxpayer money.  Please stand with Gov. Rick Scott and send him a word of support.

I would like to send a special thank you to the deputy in this picture.  Several proponents of rail tried to tell us that we were not allowed to protest on "their" side of the street.  When one of them approached this deputy and asked him to make us move he explained to her that we were well within our rights.  Yes, we were loud and yes, we were passionate but at no point were we out of bounds.  The Left needs to understand that the days of the "quiet conservative" are long gone.  We will defend our rights in the voting booth and we will defend them in the street.  It is a brand new day.  My advice to Lefties-get used to it.

For more go to Potluck

Friday, February 18, 2011

Time to hit the streets

From Steven F Hayward at The Corner:

During the riots in Greece last year over budget cuts, a common refrain was, “There’s no Tea Party movement in Europe; America is different.” Well, now is the moment to test this proposition. If ever there was a time for the Tea Party movement to take to the streets, it’s now in Ground Zero in Madison, Wisconsin — and other state capitals, from the sound of the news that the unions want to organize rallies in Ohio and Indiana as well. Just winning a big election isn’t enough.

In November we told the political class in this country that we are mad as Hell and we aren't going to take it anymore.  Apparently they weren't listening.  We sent a clear message that we don't want rail here in Florida and our governor, acting on the will of the people refused the federal dollars for rail.  End of story, right?  Wrong.

From Americans for Prosperity:

**Breaking News**

Members of Florida's Congressional Delegation and the Florida Legislature are plotting to circumvent Governor Scott's decision to reject $2.4 billion in federal funds to build a high speed rail from Orlando to Tampa. Unlikely bedfellows were made today when a group of 26 State Senators, including ten democrats and led by high speed rail supporter Paula Dockery, sent a letter to Obama’s Transportation Secretary asking him to circumvent Gov. Scott and send the dollars directly to a state commission created in 2009.They noted that politics should have no place in the future of Florida’s transportation, but they are doing exactly that with this political power play to quiet your voice and that of your elected Governor.

Governor Scott's decision to reject the federal stimulus dollars is backed by sound economic policy and represents the voice of fiscal conservatives - he doesn't think it is in the best interest of the state to commit to a project we can't afford down the road. The Federal Railroad Administration has proposed a plan for Florida that will cost an estimated $11 billion to build, and it is projected that along with SunRail and Tri-Rail it will cost $100 million per year to operate once completed. With unknown ridership numbers and a budget shortfall of $3.5 billion and growing, the state of Florida simply can't afford Obama and Dockery's High Speed Rail plan.

Click here to contact your state and congressional representatives to tell them that we can't afford to play politics over High Speed Rail.

For Prosperity,

Apryl Marie Fogel
State Director
Americans for Prosperity - Florida

From Wisconsin to Florida politicians are using taxpayer money to purchase votes.  If they didn't hear us in November than we just need to shout a little bit louder.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My co-worker says I’m “feisty” when I’m pissed

I work with the public. I get paid to do a job. My employer does not pay me to voice my political opinions, and quite frankly, working in a union affiliated business it is probably in my best interest to keep my mouth shut. However…..

A union BA just shared his opinion with me regarding Gov. Scott’s rejection of $2.4 billion in federal high-speed-rail funds. Being mindful of why I am here I let his first comment go. I let the second comment go. I let the third comment go. He decided to make a fourth comment. No way, no how. I am not a captive audience and push me far enough and I am more than willing to call “bull shit”.

From my governor’s press release:

My decision to reject the project comes down to three main economic realities:

● First — capital cost overruns from the project could put Florida taxpayers on the hook for an additional $3 billion.

Second — ridership and revenue projections are historically overly-optimistic and would likely result in ongoing subsidies that state taxpayers would have to incur. (from $300 million – $575 million over 10 years) — Note: The state subsidizes Tri-Rail $34.6 million a year while passenger revenues covers only $10.4 million of the $64 million annual operating budget.

● Finally — if the project becomes too costly for taxpayers and is shut down, the state would have to return the $2.4 billion in federal funds to D.C.

● The truth is that this project would be far too costly to taxpayers and I believe the risk far outweighs the benefits.

● Historical data shows capital cost overruns are pervasive in 9 out of 10 high speed rail projects and that 2/3 of those projects inflated ridership projections by an average of 65 percent of actual patronage.

It is projected that 3.07 million people will use the train annually. Keep in mind that Amtrak’s Acela train in Washington, D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore only had 3.2 million riders in 2010. And that market’s population is 8 times the size of the Tampa/Orlando market.

● President Obama’s high-speed rail program is not the answer to Florida’s economic recovery.

● We must make investments in areas where we will get a return for the shareholders – Florida’s taxpayers.

● Rather than investing in a high-risk rail project, we should be focusing on improving our ports, rail and highway infrastructure to be in a position to attract the increased shipping that will result when the panama canal is expanded when the free trade agreements with Colombia and panama are ratified and with the expansion of the economies of central and south America.

● By capturing a larger share of containerized imports entering our seaports, expanding export markets for Florida businesses and emerging as a global hub for trade and investment we can create up to an additional 143,000 jobs according to a recent chamber of commerce study.

● It is absolutely critical that we make smart investments with taxpayer dollars, whether state or federal, and I believe our state will be better served by spending these funds on projects that will benefit Florida and not turn into a spending boondoggle.

● The answer is to reduce government spending, cut government’s leash on our state’s job creators and then hold that government accountable for the investments it makes.

● That is what I was elected to do and that is how I plan to govern. Let’s get to work!

I would like to thank Gov. Scott for his wise and principled decision. Had he accepted the funds the taxpayers would have never gotten off the hook. Yes, we do need jobs in Florida. But it is private sector, not taxpayer subsidized, short term jobs that will turn our state around. The rail funds are nothing more than payola for Obama supporters (hellooo Jeffrey Immelt!).  Or better put by a commenter at The Corner:

Silly people. It's too hard to reward your cronies with all those disparate investments. With high-speed rail, all the money goes in one pot that the fed controls, and they get to steer their favored cronies to the public teat for their monetary rewards. It has nothing to do with building trains for people to actually ride on, and everything to do with creating a mechanism to funnel billions of tax-payers dollars (in reality, billions of dollars that our grandchildren will still be paying interest on)to their supporters in corrupt trade unions and crony contractors.

In any case, I would really appreciate it if between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. I could be on the receiving end of that “civility” thing that is all the rage. Assuming I still have my job tomorrow.

Sounds like my first year in college

Darrell Issa's agenda: condoms, yoga, pot

No, Issa is making arrangements for Friday night’s frat party:

The California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee submitted a slew of amendments yesterday that would ban government-funded studies of how well men use condoms, the effects of integral yoga in treating hot flashes for menopausal women, whether video games improve old folks’ mental health, the use of marijuana in conjunction with malt liquor and with opiates, and the impacts of a possible soda tax.

For extra credit, can anyone tell me why taxpayers were funding these studies to begin with? Several amendments have been introduced including my personal favorite (so far): Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) would make Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner a prisoner of Washington by prohibiting the use of federal money to assist him in traveling. I don’t know what is up with that, but I like it.

Maybe I’m just getting cranky in my early middle age but it seems like we spend an awful lot of money on foolishness in this country. I mean, did we really need to spend $28,900 to find out how methamphetamine affects the sex lives of rats? Yes, it is a piddling amount but when it comes to taxpayer money Washington considers everything to be a piddling amount.

So here’s to Issa and to the end of silliness. Not one moment too soon.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Well if this doesn’t make you want to run right out and risk your life savings to start your own business I don’t know what will:

In an unprecedented and controversial move, the White House has launched a new program at the Department of Labor which will refer workers who have complaints about their bosses to a toll free number at the American Bar Association, where they can get a lawyer to work on their case on a contingency fee basis.

Didn’t get the raise you were expecting or the promotion you feel you deserve? No worries! The current Administration and trial lawyers have a cozy little “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” relationship:

Seventy-six percent of the $102,839,147 donated by lawyers in the 2010 election cycle went to Democrats, while the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union spent $87.5 million alone on independent expenditures, more than any other special interest, including the widely derided expenditures of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Could those schmucks in DC be any more corrupt?

Don’t answer that.

H/T Instapundit

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sen. Lautenberg is simply overwrought

“I won’t attempt to voice my views on your family and let my family alone," he said. "Don’t go near my daughters. If they want to make a choice, that’s up to them and it’s with the advice of a doctor and loving parents and a loving family. So we’ve got to strike down this outrageous assault on women's rights."
And that, my friends, is Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D –N.J.) fretting that the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act will deprive his daughters of the right to kill his grandchildren.

Rest easy, Sen. Lautenberg, your daughters are still perfectly free to kill your grandbabies. This particular bill only specifies that the tax payer won’t be forced to foot the bill for the murder of these children.

I hope that eases the good senator’s mind.

I almost forgot-further down in the linked article Lautenberg compares Rebublicans to people in Third World countries who force women to wear "shawls" over their faces.  In the immortal words of Vodkapundit:  dumbass!

Remember ladies:  you have the right to an abortion.  If you so desire an abortion, for any reason at any time, and cannot afford one, an abortionist will be provided for you at taxpayer expense.  'Cause, you know, the Constitution says so, somewhere.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Some people get it

I drove three plus hours to watch Gov. Rick Scott present his budget for Florida.  I got lost.   Its what I do.  Just when I decided that I should just turn around, there was my sign:

Followed that car all the way.  Considering I was an hour out I guess I'm lucky that I assumed correctly.

In any case, it was worth the drive.  Gov. Scott, when explaining the budget, used an analogy that we can all understand:  the attic. 

Up in the attic we find  things that are precious to us.  We also find "stuff".  Stuff that makes us scratch our head and wonder why we are are hanging on to it.  Some things we want to keep but they serve no useful purpose, and frankly, we can't afford to "hang on".  The trick is to prioritize and hold on to those things we truly need and jettison those things that we just can't afford.

Gov. Scott is taking a lot of heat for asking state employees to put five percent of their pay in to their retirement.  I have a ten buck an hour teller who puts seven percent of his income into his 401k.  He does it because he knows how to prioritize.  State employees can do do the same thing.

We need to prioritize.  If not now, when?