382001 03: The nation's first high-speed train, Amtrak's Acela Express, departs from Union Station November 16, 2000 in Washington. The Acela Express will travel between Washington, New York and Boston at speeds reaching 150mph. (Photo by Michael Smith/Newsmakers)
California's high-speed rail project still looks like a zombie. It's going nowhere fast, but it is providing some delicious political entertainment for those of us who enjoy ironies -- the richer the better.
The best example is the leading Republican talking point against the high-speed rail.
Noting that the first leg would go through the Central Valley, from Corcoran up to Madera, Republicans have thundered that this will be "a train to nowhere."
Why is that ironic? Because California Republicans are quite literally the party of nowhere.
"Nowhere" is a pretty good description of where GOP lawmakers live these days.
The party has become regional -- a party of the less-populated areas of California, namely the inland. And it is inland California, particularly the Central Valley, one of the state's more Republican areas, that would benefit from high-speed rail.
And of course, it's a Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, who is fighting to rescue a high-speed rail project that would benefit a part of the state represented by Republicans who have opposed his fiscal policies.
Who says all politics is local? Or that politics is about self-interest? High-speed rail demonstrates that politics, like so many human endeavors, is irrational.
This irrational pattern in the politics of high-speed rail is reflected on other issues of government spending.
The less-populated inland areas of California receive more from government on a per capita basis and pay relatively less in taxes -- but it is representatives from precisely these government-blessed areas that lead the fight for smaller government.
Conversely, big-city dwellers whose taxes subsidize services for the ungrateful inlanders nevertheless tend to be more comfortable with government spending.