The biggest boondoggle in California history is now under the microscope of the U.S. Department of Transportation as costs continue to climb on a multi-billion dollar high-speed rail project that routinely misses deadlines and blows through budgets.
I speak as a lover of trains, fiscal responsibility, and as a Libertarian. I do have issues with Cato and others who too-often cite the financial difficulties of Amtrak and other transit projects without giving similar exposure to highway boondoggles. And yes, it frustrates me that these same people lambast Amtrak’s relatively paltry subsidy without calling for the interstate highway system to turn a profit — which it never, ever will.
However, to pin this disaster on pressure from Libertarians, as some have, is utterly comedic. Say what you will about Fox’s credibility, but a project that starts at $33 billion balloons to nearly triple that with decades still to completion isn’t a problem of reporting or of ideology. It is a problem rooted in the statist impulse to embark on these projects to placate a constituency and enrich cronies, not to satisfy a market demand.
if government never got into the transportation business, this train would have been built 50 years ago.