We talk so much about the stock market these days - its ups, its downs, and its crashes - that we seem to forget what it's ostensibly all about - an investment. You put some money in now and you get MORE in return later. Of course there is a cost to this - that money up front. Sure, you could use it to buy something else right now, but if you commit that money to the investment - especially if it's a good investment, in something certain to bring you greater savings and new opportunities in the future - it seems like a no brainer of a move.
That's the nutshell version of the argument advanced by R. Sean Randolph in today's San Jose Mercury News. Randolph is president and CEO of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, a consortium of leading businesses and institutions in the Bay Area. Randolph understands what we have been saying for months here at the blog - that high speed rail and Prop 1A are a smart and necessary investment for our state's future:
The project will generate nearly 50,000 long-term jobs in the Bay Area between now and 2030. Between $6.9 billion and $8.9 billion will be spent here on construction, generating 128,000 to 130,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction. By taking cars off the roads the system will enhance business productivity. Bay Area commuters lose 150,000 hours each day to congestion, at an annual cost to the economy of $2.6 billion. In-state business can also be conducted more efficiently, as travel time from San Jose to Los Angeles will be cut to a little over two hours.
That's the first effort I've seen to quantify a California version of the green dividend that has been studied in Portland - and the $2.6 billion figure here is limited to congestion (not including savings on gas) and limited to the Bay Area. We can assume that figure will be larger for the entire state and once savings on gas is included - for flights and cars - we may very well approach, yes, $10 billion.
The job creation alone is both considerable and desperately needed in a state whose unemployment rate is at 7.7% and rising fast. Do we want to wait until we're pushing 10%? Those construction jobs create other indirect jobs, and they ALL create tax income for a state that desperately needs it.
All while acting as a long-term investment that will provide clean, safe, sustainable and quality transportation that fights global warming instead of contributes to it.
High speed rail is an investment we can afford - and an investment we cannot afford to reject. Especially when you consider that not only do we not have to pay $10 billion up front, but that it will bring in even more money from the federal government, stimulus money we aren't going to get if we reject Prop 1A.
The HSR deniers don't see the purpose of investment. They instead see HSR as a threat either to their property values or political ideologies. Which is their right, of course - but Californians should think about the value of the investment, and not be swayed by those who prefer to cling to the past instead of make a smart investment to secure our future.