Readers React

Wealthy farmers shouldn't stop progress on California's bullet train

To the editor: Several wealthy farmers in the Central Valley complain about "their" land being taken to make way for the bullet train. These are men made wealthy in part due to an American dedication to the common good. ("Ready to fight: Some growers unwilling to lose land for bullet train," March 14)

Surely, a few of them went to public schools paid for by taxes. Surely, they drive on public roads, breathe air made cleaner by government rules, get rushed to hospitals and are healed by doctors whose education was partially funded by taxpayers. These rich men reap huge benefits paid for by all of us. They "own" land for a brief moment in time. Their primary responsibility is to husband and conserve it for the future.

One of the great American achievements was the transcontinental railroad, built long before these people were even born. California is a north-south state, so a railroad will be built here. We are a people, together, and we have a responsibility greater than the mere accumulation of individual wealth.

Victoria Hochberg, Los Angeles

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To the editor: It's uncanny how the dispute between Central Valley farmers and the California High-Speed Rail Authority is similar to the plot of Frank Norris' classic novel, "The Octopus."

Published in 1901, it is about Central Valley wheat farmers whose lands are owned by a big, monolithic railroad company. When the corporation decides to raise shipping prices unjustly, the farmers band together in a collective to try to stop the beast.

This fight right now feels like the 21st century version of that plot. Norris, sadly, was ahead of his time: His novel is about the 1% and the 99%, and already in 1901 there was high income and wealth inequality, when companies like his fictional railroad had massive power to do whatever they wanted to the little guy.

That this current iteration involves the government instead of big business doesn't really matter. Governments can be octopuses too.

Zareh Delanchian, Tujunga

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To the editor: We have multiple transportation corridors in the Central Valley. What would be wrong with placing the bullet train in one of these rather than take productive farm and ranch land out of production?

The worst outcome of all this posturing is that the train system may never be completed and we will have lost this source of income for the California economy forever.

I must presume that the agriculture industry does not figure highly in Gov. Jerry Brown's future plans.

Richard Rorex, Apple Valley

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