Yglesias

By Request: Rails and Propositions

CREDIT:

David asks: “Thoughts about California Proposition 1, which focuses on a high speed rail line in the state?”

Do you really need to ask? Obviously, I’m for building high speed rail. The California coast is a potentially excellent rail corridor with a whole bunch of kinda close urban areas. I’d say that there (potentially extending upcoast to Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver) is one of the most promising possible areas for rail improvement. It’s an expensive undertaking, but one that will pay large dividends for a long time once it’s done.

Related, a question about some rail proposal in Hawaii whose opponents are trying to force a referendum: “What is more important? Direct democracy (which I believe you mostly want more of) or ‘elite’ driven infrastructure projects (even if it is stipulated that they are long term benefit to a majority of the people.)?”

I don’t think I do generally want more direct democracy. My understanding is that excessive direct democracy has contributed to serious governance problems in California. Among other things, I think direct democracy tends to undermine the idea of accountability of officials to the public in a way that’s contrary to the nominal objectives.