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Reason Foundation

Reason Alert: LeBron, Cleveland and High-Speed Rail

Plus privatization efforts moving ahead in New Jersey

July 9, 2010

- Lessons From LeBron
- Mayors Overestimate High-Speed Rail's Alleged Benefits
- New at Reason

Lessons From LeBron
Last night, basketball star LeBron James announced he's leaving Cleveland for Miami. Editor in Chief Nick Gillespie writes, "James' ESPN appearance last night may have been an awful exercise in press relations, but he's being attacked for doing exactly what more than half the population of Cleveland has done in the last 60 years: getting the hell out of the place. On top of that, his motivation seems genuine: As he told Larry King earlier this year, his b-ball legacy depends on earning championship rings, not putting up MVP numbers. He wants to be Michael Jordan 2.0, not Charles Barkley 2.0...While there's no certainty that teaming up with the Heat will lead James to the winner's circle, it's definitely the case that he doesn't deserve abuse for taking full advantage of the free agent opportunities available to him. As labor in a stridently enforced cartel, he puts the asses in the seats and he should extract whatever he can during a career that can end at any minute. More important, Cleveland's destiny as a dying industrial city is in no way linked to James' staying or going. As economist Dennis Coates has pointed out, having a major professional franchise in an area actually reduces per capita income by about $40. Cities don't rise and fall on the backs of their sports teams and sports figures (trust me, I lived in Buffalo three of its four Super Bowl years and nothing would have changed had Scud Norwood split the uprights against the Giants). If Cleveland and its rooters in the press (who never seem to actually go there) want to take some lessons from James' departure, they should think about what they can do for the 99.9 percent of its residents who don't play in the NBA or own professional sports teams."
Reason Saves Cleveland With Drew Carey

Mayors Overestimate High-Speed Rail's Alleged Benefits
A recent publication by the U.S. Conference of Mayors claims that high-speed rail will produce tens of billions of dollars in economic growth for cities. Reason Foundation's Robert Poole writes, "...the large majority of hoped-for high-speed rail trips will not be from station to station, but from one suburban location to another suburban location. That's because of the past 50 years' suburbanization not only of housing locations but also of job locations. So station-to-station high-speed rail trip times are only part of the story; whether there will be net trip-time savings compared with driving depends on comparing door-to-door travel times. That's certainly the case for the report's claimed benefits of facilitating very long commutes such as Palmdale to Los Angeles or Lakeland to Orlando. A footnote to one table makes it even more clear that the potential economic benefits depend on '...supportive public policies and infrastructure investments to allow the benefits of HSR to be realized, and the projected additional business development to occur.' What it's trying to say is that unless metro areas spend additional tens or hundreds of billions on a region-wide rail transit network, connecting everywhere to everywhere, much of the economic benefit will not materialize. Again, that underscores that this report is nothing like a benefit/cost analysis. The costs are more or less taken as a given, able to be ignored, so that hypothetical gross benefits can absorb all the attention. Alas, the real world is not like that. The resources that building and operating high-speed rail will consume have alternative uses, with potentially greater economic value added. A benefits-only study is useless as a guide to sound public policy."
Nick Gillespie: Why Cities Are Broke

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John Stossel: The Trouble with Trial Lawyers

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