Peter Gordon sends me to the LA Times, who write an awful editorial: Keeping faith with California’s bullet train: “Worthwhile things seldom come without cost or sacrifice. That was as true in ancient times as it is now; pharaoh Sneferu, builder of Egypt’s first pyramids, had to try three times before he got it right, with the first two either collapsing under their own weight or leaning precipitously. But who remembers that now? Not many people have heard of Sneferu, but his pyramids and those of his successors are wonders of the world.”
In addition to Peter Gordon’s point about slaves building the pyramids, I will reiterate Dick Soberman’s (U Toronto) point that “the Pyramids have lower operating costs”. I am sure three millennia from now people will visit the ruins of the earthquake-ravaged island of California to visit the random spurs of metal and concrete that were once a High-speed rail line which had operated for about a year before technology obsoleted it and the operator went bankrupt. This is much like today when veritable hoards of people visit closed Underground stations and other abandoned infrastructure. This future tourism (discounted to the present at an appropriate discount rate of negative 7 percent) is perhaps the best justification for HSR yet.
The education system in California has clearly deteriorated far beyond what we once understood when editorial writers either believe supporting HSR construction at this point is good policy, or believe their audience will be moved by this.