Monday, March 26, 2012

Obama's Latest - A $5 Billion Train to Las Vegas From Nowhere

DesertXpress, a privately held company linked to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a plan.

They want to build a bullet train that would take tourists from a desolate desert area in California to the gambling resorts of Las Vegas...and they're on the verge of scoring a $4.9 billion loan from the Obama administration to do it.

Here's DesertXPress's idea in a nutshell. Californians from Los Angeles will gas up, drive 100 miles in their cars, pull off I-15, drive to an area outside of Victorville and board a DesertXpress train at around $100 per ticket to go th erest of the way..not counting what DesertXpress will probably charge for parking.

Like Solyndra and the rest of Obama's 'green jobs' agenda, this is simply a nice Chicago-style reward for some well connected Democrats at the expense of the taxpayers, as well as a backscratcher for Senator Reid.

Let's look at the proposition. First of all, the California location they're talking about eliminates any reason to use the new depot. Anyone headed towards Vegas from the greater Los Angeles area who's made the trek before on a weekend or holidays absolutely dreads the heavy I-15 commute. What the brilliant planners of this bit of graft would expect you to believe is that people will endure three quarters of it, get out of their cars and then pay big to take the train the rest of the way.

Right now, there's already bus service run by AmTrack and several other companies from Los Angeles to Vegas. AmTrack claims the trip takes about 6 hours and the fare is $55. Another company offers a trip that takes 5 hours for $25 - $40 each way, with a $10 discount on round trips. Grey hound goes there too. Seniors. a big part of the Las Vegas clientele use these buses all the time, and the casinos frequently offer discount coupons as well to make it even cheaper. And remember...these fares are from Los Angeles, without the Vegas bound visitors having to pay for gas and drive in heavy traffic for three hours from the Los Angeles area to some place in the desert, pay additional money to park their cars and then pay $100 more to go the rest of the way instead of just driving for another hour.

For that matter, air fare from LAX, John Wayne or Burbank airports is usually under $100 round trip, and again, the casinos and hotels frequently offer discounts and packages to make it even less.

DesertXpress and its eager backers in the Obama Administration would have you believe that their potential customers are stupid enough toline up topay through the nose for this 'service.' Instead of flying in comfort for the same price less gas, stress, driver time and parking, or taking a bus for even less without fighting traffic and paying for gas and parking.

And to get it going, they only want the Obama Administration to give them $5 billion in the form of a low interest FRA loan to put this nonsense into operation.Such a deal! At least for them.

Not only that, but the projects official rationale, jobs, is an absolute joke. DesertXPress claims that building the project will generate 80,000 new jobs, but the FRA's own research in conjunction with the loan request shows that this is a wildly inflated number, that most of the jobs created would be temporary, and something like only 700 jobs would be permanent. Meanwhile, towns down the highway would shed jobs. Barstow's mayor calls this 'catastrophic' and estimates they would lose up to 2,300 jobs in his city alone.

The personalities involved are interesting as well.Casino developer and contractor Anthony Marnell II is the major shareholder in DesertXPress, while project consultant Sig Rogich, runs the most influential lobbying and advertising company in Nevada and is co-chair of Republicans for Reid, a Nevada group with ties to the gambling industry. Marnell, another member of Republicans for Reid has donated at least $15,000 to political committees connected to Reid since 2010, including a $5,000 donation in May to Senator Reid's Searchlight Leadership Fund.

Other investors include North Dakota businessman Gary Tharaldson, who donated $10,000 to a Reid committee in March.

And then there's the matter of a recent mysterious issuing of 25,000 shares of stock by DesertXpress HRS Corp.on Marnell's orders.DesertXpress isn't saying whom the shares were issued to, who holds them, and in what amounts.

Same old story. Oh, and as a parting note, there isn't one bullet train in the world operating without a government subsidy. So if this monstrosity ever does get built, the $5 billion is just a down payment.

(h/t, long time Joshua's Army member Louie Louie)

1 comment:

B.Poster said...

Clearly a bankrupt country with an economy that is in the doldrums like the situation that America faces right now cannot afford this project even if it were practical which it does not appear to be. At some point the maddness stops becuase the lenders are not going to fund it anymore. In any event, the Russians, Chinese, and other major world powers have got to be laughing hysterically at us.

There are at least four better ways to spend money than on this project that will yield great benefits to us. 1.)Increase border security personnel and equipment. This gives us greater utility for our security interests than any thing we are currently doing. 2.)Develop all of our oil and gas reserves and build more refineries. This has the advantage of both helping our national security interests and improving our economy. 3.)Our infrastructure is crumbling. Major work needs to be done to the highway system, the waste management systems, and the utility grid and delivery systems. 4.)From continuing operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere over the last ten years the US Army and Marine Corps is broken to the point that basic national defense is problematic at best. These branches of the military need to be rebuilt from the ground up. Furthermore the Navy and the Air Force are facing a backlog of tired and worn down equipment from these operations and the equipment it does have is technologically outdated when compared with adversaries and potential adversaries. Essentially the US military needs to be rebuilt to meet America's basic defense needs.

Obviously rebuilding the miliary will be tremendously expensive, however, we can offset some of these costs by redeploying our forces to defensible positions along our borders and off our coasts. Additional cost savings can be realized by cutting out much of the Pentagon bueracracy who has fancy titles, fat salaries, and fat pensions but contributes little to nothing to America's national defense. Essentially the Pentagon like other government agencies is top heavy with highly paid beuracrats who don't contribute based upon what they are paid. Government agencies across ALL levels must take a haircut. The Pentagon is no different.

Since the government cutbacks are inevitable, the question is do we take a proactive approach and deal constructively with this now or do we wait until the creditors force these cutbacks on us? If the cutbacks are forced on us by the creditors, we may or not be able to do this in such a way that our interests can be properly represented. This should be kept in mind.