Will Gov. Brown kill self-driving cars as threat to bullet train?

Sept. 13

By Chris Reed

Gov. Jerry Brown gave another hallucinatory endorsement to the bullet-train project in a weekend interview on CNN, depicting the plan as necessary for California’s future.

But the growing, glowing reports about the incredible promise offered by self-driving cars — of much-faster, much-funner commutes that feel more like time spent in your living room than time fending off bad drivers and congestion, commutes that are also much more fuel-efficient — undercut Jerry’s narrative.

It turns out that promising 21st-century technology, not 20th-century technology sold to voters with a thicket of lies, could be far more important for California’s transportation future.

So what will Brown do about SB 1295, which passed the Legislature late last month with just two no votes?

It seems likely that he’ll sign it rather than conceive of it as a transportation alternative that makes the bullet train look even dumber and more wasteful than before.

But if he did, it would fit with the  new Luddite movement growing on the left already, a movement that objects to progress if it means cheaper fossil fuels or anything that threatens the regressive “progressive” agenda. It’s just quieter than the original. Instead of trashing factories to protest automation, as they did in Britain 200 years, these Luddites fight to maintain the status quo with their political clout.

The productivity revolution that has allowed the private sector to do much more with less has by and large bypassed government. Too bad. But it’s about to arrive at universities, with hugely disruptive effects.

How long until the California Legislature passes laws that allow, encourage or require discrimination against potential workers with degrees from free or mostly free universities? It’s coming. The status quo of plentiful government jobs must be defended, no matter the circumstances or economic illogic.

Virginia Postrel saw this all coming long ago.

Tags assigned to this article:
bullet trainhigh-speed railJerry Brown

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