Magazine April 19, 2021, Issue

The Infrastructure of the California Dream

California’s high-speed-rail project — delayed, downsized, and over budget — under construction in Fresno, 2019 (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
Where are today’s ‘astounding enterprises’?

There was a time when California dreamed. These were big dreams that built great things: railroads, dams, roads, universities, a way of life. California invented itself over a century-long stretch of public largesse and private ingenuity that gave this arid frontier, as Mark Twain put it, “a name for getting up astounding enterprises and rushing them through with a magnificent dash and daring and a recklessness of cost or consequences, which she bears unto this day.” But that final clause is no longer true.

This day, it’s more like the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s barely laying any track over a quarter

To Read the Full Story

This article appears as “The Infrastructure of a Dream” in the April 19, 2021, print edition of National Review.

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In This Issue

I. What Made California Great

II. California's Self-Destruction

III. Can California Be Saved?

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