[ExI] The Tragedy of the 'Unmanaged' Commons

spike at rainier66.com spike at rainier66.com
Thu Jan 5 19:01:25 UTC 2023



…> On Behalf Of Mike Dougherty via extropy-chat

On Thu, Jan 5, 2023, 10:51 AM spike jones via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org <mailto:extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> > wrote:

>>… did that happen?  My discussion with
John was about a high speed rail in California…


>…I understand "common" has multiple dictionary definitions, but there is sufficient context here to know we're not discussing frequency/rarity or electrical ground... so c'mon Spike, you're feigned ignorance in this case is even more cringe… Mike


Hi Mike,


The topic of high speed rail in California is filled with high emotions.  We get that.  But a segue into storing toxic waste on one’s property and pouring mercury onto my lawn and so forth, is completely irrelevant to that discussion and is bizarre.  


The proposed high speed rail system would be enormously beneficial to me personally, but I don’t see it as practical.  I have witnessed existing rail systems in what looks like a death spiral, systems which include Bay Area Rapid Transit, the Altamont Corridor Express (that one is a maybe (it might be doing OK (I haven’t used it in a long time))) the AmTrak (perennially scraping by and needing subsidies) the CalTrain, the local Light Rail, oy vey.  I can see these trains and see how many passengers they carry. 


The high speed rail discussion is all about the business model behind rail in general: it saves money by a highly streamlined loading and unloading (compared to air travel) which makes it ideal for urban settings, but not so much for the longer runs.  High speed rail in general is shooting for a very narrow market niche somewhere between air travel and existing rail, while competing directly with road travel.  I don’t see a profit window in there.  The state of California boldly charged in where the brave dare not go.


This entire discussion should be asking whether rail traffic is feasible on the west coast in general.  I see why it works in places like New York, which were already big cities before cars came along.  But most of the west coast grew up after cars came along.  So… we have a really good very practical highway system.  This highway system eventually caused the eventual failure of most rail transportation in the Los Angeles basin, much of which predated cars.  Once roads were built, the population opted for cars rather than rail travel.  Once-prosperous railroads went out of business.


None of that has anything to do with dumping or storing toxic waste nor tragedy of the commons.  It has everything to do with the feasibility of the business model behind high speed rail (and all other rail) in California.  If high speed rail magically came into existence tomorrow, I would love it, and would use the hell out of it.  But I don’t consider it worth the investment.





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