Pork and Trains

We have an employment crisis in Florida. Most of the people in Tallahassee today have been in office as these economic storm clouds gathered, and now rain on us all. The recent special legislative session in Tallahassee was billed by leadership as an attempt to “get Florida back on track..” Instead of economic help, Florida got a storm surge of phony stimulus spending.

Five years ago, much of this same proposal, the Bullet Train, was placed on the ballot for the entire population to vote on. After considering the trade offs, the teachers who would not be hired, the Medicaid bills that could not be paid, and the prisons that would go unstaffed. The people rightly decided that this public expenditure should not be made. In a huge reversal, some the leaders of the repeal High Speed Rail (HSR) Florida Constitution amendment, are leaders for creating a new bureaucracy in the DOT to do just the same. Now that really is Special.

These same “leaders” now have a solution for our job problem: a Bullet Train connected by a system of light rail feeder trains. We must invest infrastructure, we are told. The legislation passed, we are told, will help Florida compete against other localities across the nation for Federal Funds. This spending storm surge is brought to you by the same politicians who surged the bailouts and the stimulus spending: The Obama administration. If you carefully look at the trillions that were spent in this surge, you will see that the spending did not work. The problems got worse after the government spending, not better. We are on the precipice of having every dollar of tax collected go merely to pay the interest on the national debt.

Pay special attention to that. Even if we spend the money on Pork, we may not get the Federal dollars. Even if we get the Federal Dollars, the problem may get worse. The award is based on National Politics over which we have no control. People, we all know that the Federal Government is hopelessly bankrupt and corrupt. Who are we competing against? One bid submitted is for Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Another bid is for Chicago. When all the cards are laid on the table, Harry Reid from Nevada, and Rahm Emanuel from Chicago, will have more say about this “competition” than Bill Nelson, George LeMuiex, Charlie Christ, or Dan Mica.

All across Florida for the last nine months, anxious citizens have demonstrated against Government Pork Barrel spending. Not once, anywhere, have I detected a ground swell of public opinion for this train network and the jobs that this will supposedly generate.

Public spending in an economic emergency should focus on TAX CUTTING. If this were the objective of the special session, I would be in the streets cheering them on. If the Legislature were to consider repealing the massive hikes for fees, fines, tuition, and professional licensing, The people of Florida would applaud.

Tax cuts will help business to survive and new businesses to thrive without picking winners and losers. The Florida Cabinet and the Legislature want to pick the winner –– more government. This could be the socialization of our transportation network just like we have seen the government takeovers and bail outs of car companies, insurance companies, banks, Wall Street, and the entire health care industry.

At the height of the Great Depression, our Great Grand Fathers summoned every once of skill and audacity, and built Hoover Dam. This power plant continues to provide water and electricity for millions even to this day. This is the type of “spending” that is truly an investment. When you only have one wish, you wish for more wishes. When you want to increase the productivity of society, you wish for cheap energy and plentiful water.

Amtrak loses money each year. Every Mass transit system in Florida loses money every year. This system will be the same losing thinking on steroids. The same bureaucrats who brought you the “Metropolitan Planning Organizations” now want to expand the government for more of the same.

Please contact your legislators and tell them to encourage Production, not big government, command economy, pork barrel money gobbling “mass transit.” As I travel around Florida and I see who we are and what generates public excitement, it is clear to me why so few want mass transit. I see people turn out by the hundreds of thousands for Bike Week, for the Daytona 500. I see them turn out for car shows. I see them turn out for Fly-Ins. I have yet to ever hear of a Florida “Train Day” that got anybody but Government workers to attend, and that was because they charged US for their attendance.

Do not fall for the lie that “we cannot pave over all Florida.” This dark vision is merely a cover for incompetent design of our existing roads. Except for some bottleneck areas, and some rush hour woes, there is nothing wrong with Florida roads that good planning will not solve. 

Floridians as a people, as American leaders, want their personal transportation device –– their car, their bike, their plane, because each of these are proud emblems of their FREEDOM.

Kevin Wright

[email protected]

Kevin is a small business activist and serves on the board of the Tampa Republican Club.  He graduated from USF in 1975 and has engaged in much community service since then.