Boondoggle or Cutting Edge?

California's high-speed rail project set to go amidst harsh criticism that it will end up a boondoggle, a giant waste of money. Is this the kind of politics that built extensive high-speed rail in Europe, Japan, and now China? 

Adam Nagourney:

But for many Californians, struggling through a bleak era that has led some people to wonder if the state’s golden days are behind it, this project goes to the heart of the state’s pioneering spirit, recalling grand public investments in universities, water systems, roads and parks that once defined California as the leading edge of the nation.

Sign of the times for the US: crumbling 19th and 20th century infrastructure. Not good, and little evidence that we can make these projects work. 

Environmental historian Richard White:

What they are hoping is that this will be to high-speed rail what Vietnam was to foreign policy: that once you’re in there, you have to get in deeper. The most logical outcome to me is we are going to have a white elephant in the San Joaquin Valley.