The LATimes reports -- brace yourselves -- that the proposed bullet train connecting the LA basin with the San Francisco Bay Area is now twice as expensive and will take twice as long to build. Hard to believe, right? From the LATimes:
California's bullet train will cost an estimated $98.5 billion to build over the next 22 years, a price nearly double any previous projection and one likely to trigger political sticker shock, according to a business plan scheduled to be unveiled Tuesday.
In a key change, the state has decided to stretch out the construction schedule by 13 years, completing the Southern California-to-Bay Area high speed rail in 2033 rather than 2020.
Not really, says Charles Lane in the WaPo. He argues that the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report, which lists America's infrastructure as 23rd in the world, behind Barbados, looks at it the wrong way. When you compare countries of similar size, you get a different ranking:
When you compare America’s WEF rankings with those of the 19 other largest countries, it stands second only to Canada, which is lightly populated — and whose infrastructure is linked with ours.
Among the 20 most populous countries, the United States ranks behind France, Germany and Japan, in that order. This would seem to confirm the case for U.S. inferiority in the developed world.
But France and Germany, in addition to being substantially smaller than the United States, are part of the European Union, a borderless single market from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Sure enough, when you average out the scores of all 27 E.U. nations, the United States beats them by a clear margin.
The WEF produced its rankings based on a survey in which business executives were asked to rate their respective countries’ infrastructure on an ascending scale of 1 to 7.
Barbados’s 5.8 average score means that paradise’s execs are a smidgen happier with their infrastructure than are their American counterparts, who gave the United States an average score of 5.7. This is a “national disgrace”? Barbados has one commercial airport. The United States has more than 500.
Still, we should spend more, right? Ask Japan:
After its economic bubble burst, Japan tried to restart growth with more than $6 trillion in infrastructure spending between 1991 and 2008. It ended up with little to show for it but a swollen national debt and lots of bridges to nowhere.
And that's where we are now -- wait, excuse me, that's where we'll be in 2033, when the train is now scheduled to be running.
Money spent with nothing to show for it.
That should be the epitaph of the Obama administration.