I had a chance to sit down for an interview with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett yesterday (which you can hear coming up later this morning on the WOSH Morning News Focus) to discuss his run for Governor. Of course, the topic of the $810 million high speed rail line came up--as I asked him to "sell" the need for that project to people in the rest of the state who will likely never need to--or want to--ride on the thing any time in their lives.
Mayor Barrett ticked through the usual talking points on the train "It will create hundreds of jobs", "Economic development will spring up around the tracks and stations" and "When gas goes to $4 a gallon again we'll want to take the train." He also brought up the sad reality that the state can't actually use the $810 million dollars for real infrastructure improvement because the Obama Administration specifically earmarked it for high speed rail--and that "If Wisconsin doesn't take it--then some other state will."
After the interview was over the Mayor asked me if he had "changed my mind on the train" (he had apparently been briefed on some of my views). I told him I had not--and when he asked me why I shared with him the very simple analogy I use with everyone else:
The high speed rail project (and much of the stimulus package) is like the sister and brother-and-law that you see only once a year coming to you child's 5th brithday party and giving him a puppy as a gift. You didn't ask for a puppy for your child--they just decided that "every boy should have a puppy". Of course the child (in this case Governor Doyle or Mayor Barrrett) is ecstatic--"Wow a puppy of my very own!! I'm going to love him and take care of him and I will call him George!!" The sister and brother-in-law (President Obama and Democrats in Congress) are beaming because they have "created" this joy--while you (Wisconsin Taxpayers) are shooting them the Look Of Death because what your child really could have used was something sensible--like educational video games or some books. And you know that the child will grow tired of caring for the dog in about two days--and all the responbility will fall upon you.
Oh, and this is no puppy--it's actually a Great Dane puppy that will have to eat about 20-dollars worth of food a day every day for the rest of its life. And its from a bloodline with a history of hip displaysia and intestinal cancer--and it will have behavioral problems that will make "Marley and Me" look like the Westminster Dog Show. And you will not believe the size of the "piles" it will leave in your yard--and the neighbors' yard as well.
Yes, there will be moments you might enjoy the puppy--but we all know how it is going to end. Needless to say, you will forever hold that against the sister and brother-in-law--but they aren't the ones who will be around to have to deal with the consequences--so they really don't care.
Remind me sometime to tell you about the "health care reform is like ice cream" analogy.