Jerry Brown Mounts Another Strong Defense of High Speed Rail
Yesterday Governor Jerry Brown spoke to the San Jose Mercury News editorial board about his tax proposal, Proposition 30. The interview included a discussion of high speed rail, which begins at 16:34 of the video below and lasts until 27:22:
This is also worth watching to see how utterly clueless and ignorant of the facts the San Jose Mercury Editorial Board is. The person pressing Governor Brown challenges him by arguing that California’s geography and population aren’t like Spain.
As we know, that is totally false. California and Spain are very, very similar when it comes to population density and geography.
Brown also explains clearly that as California’s wealth expands, it becomes far easier to pay for the cost of high speed rail. In fact, HSR helps that wealth expand. This point was also totally lost on the Merc’s editorial board.
I would suggest another analogy, much closer to home. In 1996, Apple Computer was facing bankruptcy after years of losing money. Their CEO, Gil Amelio, had been cutting spending and other costs while investing in the same old product lines that Apple had been carrying for years. But it wasn’t working.
So Apple brought back Steve Jobs, who charted a very different course forward. He bet the company’s future on innovation. At first it was the iMac and the iBook, but the real gamechangers came when he decided that Apple would start selling music players and phones, items that had never before been in their product line. Yet the iPod became a smash hit for Apple, helping the company become profitable again. And in turn it laid the groundwork for the revolutionary iPhone.
Apple survived its lean times and became one of the world’s richest companies because it didn’t stand still. It didn’t refuse to look ahead. Instead they embraced bold change and reaped the rewards. They took the same path Governor Brown is proposing with high speed rail.
The Mercury News’ path more closely resembles that of Microsoft, which eschewed innovation and instead relied on maintaining the status quo, assuming that PCs and Windows would be a stable foundation for future profits. Microsoft has slowly been losing market share and profits while Apple, a company on its knees in the mid-1990s, has rocketed to the top of the tech world.
The lessons are clear for California. Embrace innovation, embrace investment in bold solutions, and good things will follow. Refuse to innovate, assume the status quo is just fine, and your problems will only deepen.