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Still Boondogglin'
How Blue NYC is Strangling Itself

New York City could be facing fiscal death by expensive bus stations. In the NY Daily News, Aaron Renn points out how absurdly pricey New York City’s transportation projects have become—often for very little return. The city will be spending upwards of $10 billion (perhaps more) on a new Port Authority Bus Terminal. Other projects have price tags of $1.4 billion to $11 billion. More:

Why do New York’s projects cost so much? Disturbingly, no one actually knows.

We know some of the possible culprits. A combination of factors such as Buy American rules, union featherbedding, unique rail standards, excessive environmental review requirements for transit and our litigious culture all play a role. Fragmented governance and a lack of accountability may be keys as well.

None of this has stopped our leaders from promising more and more big transportation projects, often based on shoddy research. Facing a $15-billion, five-year hole in the MTA capital plan, Gov. Cuomo out of the blue announced a dubious LaGuardia airtrain nobody was asking for.

New York’s transit woes are a portrait of the collapse of blue model in miniature. The factors that Renn argues are causing the high costs are the classic features of that out-dated system: burdensome regulations, cronyism, and corruption. The problems will be hard to solve because they are deeply rooted. Corrupt politics, rent-seeking crony capitalists, organized labor, NIMBY lobbies, administrative incompetence resulting from poorly organized and poorly run bureaucracies: it took a lot of cooks to spoil this broth.

But the good news is that studying America’s biggest problems and bottlenecks — like our expensive health care system, bloated higher ed system, collapsing infrastructure — offer us the chance to reform and redesign the outmoded systems that are holding us back. The old ways of doing things aren’t good enough any more; American society needs a new era of reform that can transform a social and political infrastructure developed for the needs of an industrial society to the smarter, sleeker and more efficient infrastructure that our emerging information society desperately needs.

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  • FriendlyGoat

    Statements like the last paragraph fill pages. Why do we suspect that the unstated TAI position for fixing these things is rooted in just slashing the take-home pay of ordinary people who work in government, transportation, infrastructure construction, and higher (and lower) education? Could it be because endless griping about “the blue model” actually has no other possible substance?

    • Blackbeard

      I’m a civil engineer with over 40 years experience doing major infrastructure projects all around the country. The difference between working n states like Texas, North Carolina or Florida, on the one hand, and a northeastern state like New York on the other, are night and day. The regulations, the unions, the veto power of NIMBYs, etc. not only make things much more expensive but , in many cases, make them downright impossible. Yes, wages in some cases are lower in those states, but the cost of living is much lower too. Look at who is migrating where and you can see that people feel they are getting a better deal.

      In other words, in my experience, TAI is right.

      • FriendlyGoat

        The sweeping statements of TAI concerning “the blue model” are not intended to be limited to New York. This NYC transportation subject here is merely an example they have brought up to further the over-arching TAI view that workers should be paid less everywhere so we can afford to abolish the capital gains and estate taxes. When you read these people over time, it all comes through again and again.

        The last paragraph of this article “sounds” sensible——but it doesn’t really say anything specific. Do you notice that?

        • Josephbleau

          The last paragraph is a proposal to reform social and political structure in public transport to support the recent change from an industrial to service economy, that is prima facie specific and sensible in the absence of a counter argument. There is nothing related to the desire to cut anyone’s taxes, In 2013 Fed and State capital gains taxes were raised by 28%.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Looked to me like the first sentence of last paragraph broadened the subject matter of this whole article to include health care, higher education and all infrastructure (presumably of the PHYSICAL kind).

            Worse, the last sentence then references a need to transform “SOCIAL and POLITICAL infrastructure” to be “smarter and sleeker”. What in the HECK does any of that mean? Really. Seriously. It’s what one of my college instructors once called “gobbledegook”.

            I’m saying it means diminishing the voting rights, participation rights and earnings of very ordinary people. If the site managers of TAI have some other more noble explanation of their own gobbledegook, what is it?

          • victoria wilson – mn

            I think what is being implied is that the model replacing old blue will establish relative values on all the goods and services politicians negotiate on behalf of constituents and in doing so will bring the public’s pocketbook out of the Marrakesh market- where one finds oneself inexplicably paying $50 for$5 incense. He is implying that a model can reveal the most efficient use of resources in the publics interest. He is implying that with said establishment of transparent pricing politicians who deviate to pad pockets will be exposed.

          • FriendlyGoat

            You are describing your desired goals of model replacement.
            Can you describe the process you envision to get there? I say it starts with diminishing the voting rights, participation rights and earnings of very ordinary people? And you say what?

        • Boritz

          Two of the issues mentioned in the last paragraph– expensive healthcare and bloated higher ed — have been covered extensively at TAI. The solution offered numerous times on healthcare costs is advanced IT. The solution for higher ed, also offered numerous times, is to reduce the administrator to student ratio and stop building luxury accomodations and amenities to attract students who then have to pay for the excess. Reduce the cost of a degree; don’t just throw student loans at costs that are well beyond the rate of inflation. TAI has offered these ideas almost (but not quite) as often as they tout telework so it’s surprising you missed them while absorbing the part about paying workers less to abolish capital gains and estate taxes whenever that was proposed.

          • FriendlyGoat

            You’re telling me that the over-arching goal of Republicans and Libertarians (at TAI or anywhere else) is not the reduction of high-end taxes? That’s news.

          • Frank Natoli

            “Top 20% of Earners Pay 84% of Income Tax”
            This article is behind the pay wall, but all you have to do is go to Google, copy, paste and search on the exact article title, then go to the article through Google, and you’re behind the pay wall.
            When you’re taxing the most productive 20% with 84% of all income taxes, it’s difficult to cut income taxes without affecting the most productive 20%.

          • FriendlyGoat

            The top earners are not the most “productive” people. Just saw a survey of “what people make” in today’s paper (the little Parade insert). They show country star Toby Keith at $66 million est. along side some school teachers and others in the “ordinary” category.

            Nothing against Toby. He’s a great song-writer and entertainer. But what he does is not the “productive” capacity of America. Neither is any hedge fund manager, athlete, CEO or trial lawyer.

          • Frank Natoli

            If you want to place school teachers on a plane with Toby Keith, you’d make a great Marxist. The production of each Toby Keith performance employs dozens if not hundreds of people. I call that productive; apparently you do not. Additionally, people who pay concert admission to the tune of $66 million do so at their discretion. The billions of dollars paid teachers for salaries, benefits and pensions, all enough to bankrupt any commercial entity, are done on pain of law. Don’t pay for the teachers’ concert, go to jail. Teachers are the very essence of the blue model, donating virtually all their campaign contributions to Marxists, the better to get big government to compel the rest of us to pay their salaries, benefits and pensions.

          • FriendlyGoat

            People do not go to jail over property taxes, the main funding of teachers.

        • ipencil

          “the over-arching TAI view that workers should be paid less”

          Bad logic. First, the people to whom you refer are government employees, not all workers as you suggest. Second, it’s odd that you, as a seeming democrat supporter, want to raise taxes on all workers, thus reduce their take home pay, then claim that the TAI view is that workers should be paid less. In reality, that is your position.

          “so we can afford to abolish the capital gains and estate taxes”

          First, “we” in this sentence only refers to politicians and bureaucrats; it most certainly doesn’t refer to “we” as normally meant. You have a terribly bad habit of using obfuscating rhetoric (the first quote I commented on is an example of equivocation on your part) in order to hide your agenda. Second, to claim that other people’s earnings and wealth are automatically subject to political siezure just because you greedily want other people’s money speaks volumes for the type of greedy, grasping person you are. Third, capital gains taxes are the very best way to discourage investments in the future (what do you think capital gains are?). Fourth, anyone who pays capital gains automatically pays a higher tax rate than everyone else. Fifth, that you think politicians should greedily gobble up private wealth upon someone’s death, again, speaks volumes on the type of person you are.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Seemed to me that the article criticizes organized labor as well as bureaucrats. Also seems to me that the Republican political position—–with which TAI is more aligned than not—–is always for high-end tax cuts, including corporate rates, marginal individual rates, capital gains and estate/gift. Connecting these dots does not make me a bad person. You calling me a bad person does not make you a good person.

          • ipencil

            Seemed to me that the article criticizes organized labor as well as bureaucrats.

            Naturally. The point of organized labor is to prevent new workers from entering the work force in order to protect the salaries of current workers. The point of so-called “organized labor” is to make the lives of new workers and consumers worse off.

            Also seems to me that the Republican political position

            The criticism of the awfulness of so-called “organized labor” is the political position of all decent people.

            is always for high-end tax cuts

            As well as tax cuts for all. Only noting that tax cuts are cut for high income workers, when tax cuts are made for all is quite dishonest. Of course, taxes should be cut. Government is grossly bloated and built on the leftist presupposition that politicians should determine who gets what based on political connections.

            Connecting these dots does not make me a bad person.

            You’re not connecting any dots. You’re asserting that people shouldn’t be able to control their own earnings and asserting that politicians should. That is what makes you a bad person.

            You calling me a bad person does not make you a good person.

            Naturally. But what does make me a good person is insisting that people live in peace and work as they like, without the interference of politicians. What makes me a good person is my fidelity to the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, whereas you, being the bad person you are, hold fast to the ideals of conformity and serfdom to political masters.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Your comments take the cake for being arrogant——but they do follow the typical Republican attitude these days. The trend from that side is personal attack and you are a very obedient sheep in that regard. Shall I be afraid of your guns too?

            Unfortunately you don’t know that a $200 tax cut for the janitor and a $20,000,000 tax cut for the CEO are not moral equivalents. You also do not know that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are not words which take automatic precedence over the actions of a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
            You can imagine yourself an island of independence, but none of us actually are.

          • ipencil

            Your comments take the cake for being arrogant

            It’s always cute when a person who claims to know how everyone else should live and what eveyone else should earn calls someone else arrogant. Your entire argument is based on the megalomaniacal idea that you and only you know how everyone else should live to the point that you actually feel justified in using the violence of the police state to coerce others to live as you want, rather than leave people in peace to live as they want.

            Unfortunately you don’t know that a $200 tax cut for the janitor and a $20,000,000 tax cut for the CEO are not moral equivalents.

            Why? You are mistaking economics to morality. Taking from people just because you think you should have what they have is wrong, no matter how much you decide to steal.

            You also do not know that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are not words which take automatic precedence over the actions of a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

            I suggest you read the Declaration of Independence and Constitution again if you really think this. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

            The very purpose of our government is stated quite clearly above. The entire purpose of our government is to secure our inalienable rights. The US Constitution sets up a limited power republic to do just that. You wrongly think that the Declaration and Constitution set up a democracy, where majority rules, without bound and without respect for our inalienable rights.

            You can imagine yourself an island of independence, but none of us actually are.

            Strawman. Dependence on others voluntarily chosen is wholly different from dependence forced upon you by government theft and coercion. I depend on Shop Rite for my tomatoes because I’d rather spend my time doing something else than growing tomatoes. I use my time the way that I choose to produce enough to trade for those tomatoes. This is different from government robbing me of 40% of my paycheck in order to impoverish me and keep me dependent on their power to buy my vote. That you think these two situations are the same highlights your moral bankruptcy.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I’m just gonna guess that you or members of your immediate family have benefited from collective national defense, clean air and water, law enforcement and courts, insured bank accounts, group health plans of various sizes, public schools, public roads, Social Security, Medicare, federal regulation of aviation and communication and a host of other collective things. Given your tone, you’ll probably deny it, but, given your tone, I wouldn’t believe you anyway. Full of it is always——full of it..

            As for the good ole Declaration of Independence and Constitution, I recall they were written by folks who thought slavery was a reasonable norm and that there was just no reason for women to vote. The “of the people, by the people and for the people” was Lincoln speaking later and, to my way of thinking, after “four score and seven years” of experience including several hundred thousand people getting killed because those original documents were a tad flawed in a few basic ways.

            Meanwhile, please do get your candidates to do the “bad person—-good person” routine in public. You are really, really talented at this and your guys need your tutoring for clarity.

          • ipencil

            I’m just gonna guess that you or members of your immediate family have benefited from collective national defense, clean air and water, law enforcement and courts, insured bank accounts, group health plans of various sizes, public schools, public roads, Social Security, Medicare, federal regulation of aviation and communication and a host of other collective things.

            You can guess all you like, but of the things you mentioned the only authorized power is national defense and is the only one that actually provides benefits to anyone. Your assumpions that federal government actions contributed to clean air and water is incredibly wrong. The other things are, also, clear negatives, as they are political boondoggles to enrich the politically connected at the expense of everyone else.

            I recall they were written by folks who thought slavery was a reasonable norm

            And you recall wrong. The framers understood the times in which they lived and created an incredible document within the constraints of that time, a document so powerful that a short two generations later, slavery was wiped from the American landscape.

            and that there was just no reason for women to vote

            And again, you recall wrong. Women voted all throughout the US. You really don’t know much about history do you? The 19th amendment guaranteed women’s votes couldn’t be denied, which, for the most part, it wasn’t.

            I, also, note that you implicitly admit you were wrong about your assertion in your previous comment, since instead of addressing that assertion and showing how the Declaration and Constitution support your assertion, you change the subject and now attack the Declaration and Constitution as being … what, exactly? Since it’s obvious the Declaration and Constitution do not support your assertions, it’s time to bring out the tired “dead old white guy” schtick.

            The “of the people, by the people and for the people” was Lincoln speaking later

            And here you full on admit that you’re above assertion about the purposes of our American government were not based on the Declaration, nor the Constitution, instead upon a speech.

            several hundred thousand people getting killed because those original documents were a tad flawed

            It is only your understanding that is flawed. The Declaration, nor the Constitution, created nor even endorsed slavery. In fact, the 3/5 rule was explicitly negotiated to weaken slave states in order to hasten the demise of slavery, by reducing the number of congressmen of slave states. Slavery ended as quickly as it did in America because of the documents you wrongly condemn as the root cause of slavery.

            And of course you don’t like my tone. It’s obvious I don’t respect you, as it’s equally obvious you don’t deserve respect. You have no understanding of history, you condemn the founding documents by slanderously asserting they formed the basis of slavery, and your entire political outlook to based on jealousy and envy and your greedy desire to use politicians to steal from others to give to yourself.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I can guess all I like, and I did—–correctly. You are not as independent of the benefits of government as you hold yourself out to be. I’m not really an evil person. Women had a 20th-century movement in order to be considered important enough to vote. Thomas Jefferson most certainly did not really think ALL men deserved a right to “liberty” and “pursuit of happiness”. And by your own admission, the Constitution really does need periodic amendment and perpetual ongoing interpretation to accommodate the fact that we do not live in the founders’ “times”.

            Bye, bye. I’m going outside to enjoy the nice day.

          • ipencil

            You are not as independent of the benefits of government

            Calling what the government “benefits” doesn’t make it so.

            I’m not really an evil person.

            Of course you are. You are so uncaring or malign (either way makes you evil) about what government actually does that you label the impoverishment of a nation “benefits”.

            Thomas Jefferson most certainly did not really think ALL men deserved a right to “liberty” and “pursuit of happiness”.

            As a matter of fact, he did.

            And by your own admission, the Constitution really does need periodic amendment

            Sure. The ways to actually secure our inalienable rights change, as unforeseen problems can occur and the political implementation, as prescribed by the Constitution, will often be flawed (which is why there is an amendment process to begin with); however, our inalienable rights do not change, the purpose for government does not change. People largely own cars now, rather than horses and saddle, but the reason for the ownership of cars is the same as that as the reason for a horse and saddle: transportation.

          • Ritchie The Riveter

            Most of those DIRECTLY pertain to securing our unalienable rights, either by interdicting behaviors that would infringe upon them, or by managing the national commons.

            But it is interesting that the ones that are not … Social Security, Medicare, group health plans … have created as many or more problems than they have solved, both because they involve the intervention of a one-size-fits-all government in highly-individual-specific areas, and because our “experts” and “leaders” have morphed them into something much, much different than originally designed. This latter reason also applies to public schools.

            And even if some did benefit by them, would they have benefited MORE – along with everyone else – by not having government “solve” these problems FOR us … but instead having millions of problem-solvers finding the best solutionS among themselves, looking to “experts” and “leaders” for advice while retaining the decision-making authority for themselves?

            The genius in the “self-evident truths”, is that they do not require us to put our faith in men to be omniscient and infallible in order to administer them as government operatives. Having our leaders go beyond them, as you would have us do, requires both on their part …even with the best of intentions.

            Face it, what you really want is to jam YOUR morality down everyone else’s throats, without even questioning whether it even meets the noble objectives you seek in a sustainable manner.

          • FriendlyGoat

            To the question of your middle paragraph, uh,……no. If no collective actions had been needed, we wouldn’t have them. Neither would people in 200 other countries.

            Did you know that the “self-evident” truths you reference in the DOC are not an exclusive list of what is self-evident? (you know, “that among these” things).

            Not in the mood to be tag-teamed today. Going outside. Bye.

          • Ritchie The Riveter

            If you infringe upon one self-evident truth, you might as well have infringed upon them all.

            But if you were as omniscient as you would have to be to carry out Progressive governance without infringing upon the three delineated rights, you would know that.

            If no collective actions had been needed, we wouldn’t have them.

            Circular logic. What if your collective action is COUNTERPRODUCTIVE to your desired aims … as the Great Society and its intergenerational poverty and fertilization of thug culture (among all races) has been (how many of those shootings you were concerned about elsewhere, are a result of that culture in its various forms?) ??? As “stimulus” spending has been in practice? As a pacifist/”realist” foreign policy has been (were it not for Reagan’s cowboy diplomacy, my great uncles in western Missouri would still be farming among the Minuteman missile silos that were there for thirty years before Reagan confronted the threat and produced REAL arms reduction)?

            Some collective actions might have been needed, as we were moving off the farms and into cities … but even from the start of that, such power was highly susceptible to corruption and misuse, and certainly the Federal government is the level that is most lacking in insight, when it comes to going beyond government’s legitimate mission and reaching into INDIVIDUAL problems.

            But we stuck with it, because we were “scientific” and thought that Smart People had all the answers, even when they can’t tell YOU apart from a statistical average.

            This is not the 19th or early 20th Century … we have grown up and can handle a lot of what we have expected government to do, ourselves … except that we were led to believe that only those who are So Much Smarter can, and must, do that for us. Millions still believe that, even 40 years after the cracks started appearing in the Blue Social Model as the rest of the world caught up economically with us … and began to pop the bubble of post-WWII prosperity we enjoyed, as a result of our good fortune of being the only nation not literally rebuilding from the rubble during that time.

            That bubble, is what let the Blue Model take root in American society.

            The Blue Social Model … the Progressive societal paradigm … is a mirage that is unsustainable in the face of human nature, that is bitterly clung to by those who think that life is unfair and Authority must make it so. But when Authority is made up of human beings, fairness is VERY hard to come by … so it is better to be free to work around the unfair, than to rely upon Authority to make things fair, because with the latter you will end up with neither freedom nor fairness.

            There will be a day, when Progressives will be held to account for how they have led millions to remain vulnerable to the errors, mendacity, and greed of their leaders.

            That is when all your sacred cows will be led to the slaughter.

        • TMLutas

          Workers who politically force their wages above market rate create unemployment and increased pressure for automation. Go take a look at 3D printing in construction and you’ll see the future of building in high labor cost areas. Eventually, people figure out new jobs to do and labor dislocated by automation is employed elsewhere but the blue model is making the automation come faster and making the new fields come slower as regulation slows them down.

          I bow to the blue model propagandists who turned this anti-worker dynamic into the common view that they “stand up for the little guy”. They are first rate at their craft.

          • FriendlyGoat

            And your solution for the maladies of the blue model is what?

          • TMLutas

            Use modern management techniques to capture the inefficiencies and unnecessary losses in the system, take seriously the idea of democratic oversight, and prioritize government so that structural deficits are eliminated by dropping the bottom priorities in both spending and regulatory dead weight is as condensed as I’ve been able to get what I’m driving at.

            As a rule, if a city is using an internal metric that can be made into a publicly available data feed, it should do so and our computers should talk to govt computers and generate business intelligence dashboards that alarm when things are going wrong (by our own individual standards). Mass customization actually makes this workable.

            By lowering the cost to inform people and more importantly lowering the cost to be informed, people will reduce their rational ignorance, something that should improve governance.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I’ll be for exposing the ridiculousness of (some of) governmental activities if you’ll be for exposing the ridiculousness of (some of) private-sector health care pricing, the ridiculousness which would be exposed by a decent study of who got how much from the tax cuts of 2001/2003 and the ridiculousness which would be exposed with national statistics on gunshot deaths and injuries. You think citizens should force transparency upon government. I think government is also useful for exposing other problems too.

          • Ritchie The Riveter

            Private-sector health care pricing is a direct result of multiple government interventions, from the tax preferences for group health plans to the Medicare coding system (that many private plans mirror). One of the biggest forces that skews prices is the managed-care paradigm that “experts” told us would cut costs, but has instead totally distorted pricing as insurers demand deeper and deeper discounts and the providers raise their prices higher and higher to compensate.

            And it doesn’t matter who got what when it comes to tax cuts. What matters is whether or not it is justified to take that money from them in the first place. “Because we should” or even “it’s for the children” is insufficient in a rights-respecting society.

            As for national statistics on gunshot deaths/injuries … the proper way to deal with the problem is to deal with those who maliciously misuse firearms to infringe on the rights of others, not simply grab the guns from everyone. But you won’t question your dogma, I’m sure.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Did I say grab the guns, Ritchie? I said gather the facts so they can be seen. Bye, Ritchie. Too nice a day outside to stay in here trying to convince you that you cannot abolish taxes.

          • Ritchie The Riveter

            Where did I say we were abolishing taxes? What I am proposing that we make sure that those taxes go ONLY for funding government’s legitimate mission … and that we collect ONLY those taxes, as well as refraining from using the tax code as a back door for socio-economic engineering and/or crony capitalism.

            I have no problem with gathering facts … including how many crimes are stopped by the presence of a firearm in the hands of a citizen. What I do have a problem with, is the preconceived agenda that I am certain you and your allies will try to fit the facts within, intellectual honesty be damned.

          • TMLutas

            We are so far away from objectively determining whether taking the money is justified that it’s not even rational to start with that point. Here’s a quick list of the things we are missing that need to be filled in before you get to that point.
            1. A list of all governments (no, one does not currently exist for the USA)
            2. A list of all governments’ expenditures, with the expenditures tied to a uniform accounting system, the goals they are attempting to achieve with those expenditures, and a tie back to a grant of authority in legislation or via the relevant constitution.
            3. An audit laying out the effectiveness of the expenditures in both money terms and time terms.

            Here’s an example of how tricky it can get. DARE is a supposed anti-drug program. It’s one of the top programs in the nation’s schools. Academic scholarship on the program is divided between the majority that is sure that the program is totally useless and a significant minority that believes that the program is actually counterproductive by increasing teenage consumption of legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco. DARE is not publicly funded but it is a mandatory time suck for children across the country, taking them away from learning useful subjects.

          • Ritchie The Riveter

            There is a simple test to determine whether or not funding a particular function is justified, at the Federal level.

            1> Does this function directly pertain to securing life, liberty, and/or the pursuit of happiness?
            2> Is government HONESTLY capable of carrying out this function effectively and efficiently?
            3> Can this function be carried out by government, without infringing on these rights?

            If we can’t get the fundamentals right, the rest of the effort is worthless.

          • TMLutas

            The article is about municipal deficiencies. My commentary is about all govt. Why would you move things over to the federal level?

            I read once that there are three counties in the US that operate amusement parks. I don’t know about that, not having checked all 3k counties but I have lived in two such counties. Funny enough, the operation of an amusement park would seem to pass your test. I think you might want to tighten that up.

          • Ritchie The Riveter

            The reason I put the Federal qualifier in, is because under our system of governance the states and cities do have more latitude than the Federal government when it comes to their mission … but the primary mission of any legitimate human government (not just American, or Federal) is to “secure these rights”, as the Declaration puts it.

            And secure those rights, not through any means available (as the Progressives would have us do)- not even through the consent of the governed – but through the exercise of JUST powers (i.e. powers that themselves do not infringe upon those unalienable rights).

            The point here is that it is the same, Blue-Model-driven, “outsourcing” of personal responsibility and personal initiative to the Smart People that you see promoted at the Federal level, that you see promoted in NYC these days. It has permeated ALL levels of government, and is just as corrosive to liberty when it comes from NYC City Hall as it is when it comes down from Washington DC.

            In fact, the Feds have, through both funding and mandates, inserted themselves into the local arena so deeply that you HAVE to deal with all the levels to properly deal with the fundamental issue at hand … OTOH, had the Feds done their job of securing our rights, many of the over-reaches of local and state governments would have been interdicted by the courts and Congress well before now.

            You want to deal with this empirically … when we need to look at it in terms of fundamental principles and deal with it accordingly.

            Amusement does not equate to happiness … for example, riding a roller coaster after a lunch of jalapeno-pepper pizza might be amusing, but one may not be happy if/when the pizza comes back up for an encore.. Therefore, those three counties are taking tax money to provide a function that does not directly pertain to our unalienable rights. In our system, they can do that, but it is neither prudent nor virtuous with respect to performing their primary mission.

          • TMLutas

            Sorry but when the fundamental rights approach has such a record of failure over the past century, it is time to add a stiff dose of empiricism to the mix. This is not a question of either/or but rather fighting the blue model on two fronts.

          • victoria wilson – mn

            How quickly personal judgment of others’ wants and needs fall under scrutiny. It is really up to the group that pays and benefits to decide whether they find a roller coaster appropriate- not you, or me. MN is known as a high tax state but the majority of Minnesotans feel there is a value being provided for those fees. Texas is known as a low tax state and easily attracts citizens for all it has to offer.
            The primary deception with the blue model is the parlay of expenditures under the guise of moral obligation, to here and there and beyond. To obligations that are asked for in one sentence activist garble: “Well the poor should have a decent place to live?” “Do you want your lakes and stream to flow clean water?” “Shouldn’t everyone have access to medicine that could save their lives?”
            Whereas the questions could be asked:” How can we provide decent housing for the poor and still encourage them to take those steps to move-up on their own?” or “Does the potential of harming natural wild rice production in remote MN lakes outweigh the alleviation of poverty and improvement of public health that a mining company would provide through the provision of jobs that support an entire community?” or ” What types of preventative activities can our group engage in so that we can head off diabetes and not need to purchase insulin?”
            In each decision there are trade-offs occuring purely in the public realm as opposed to the public vs. private realm which is where most liberals seem to want to bring the conversation to, time and again.

          • TMLutas

            You’ll have little argument with me about private sector healthcare pricing but you might be surprised at the facts. Are you even aware of how medical pricing is determined? I have a bit of knowledge, having done billing for my MD wife when she was an independent.

            Insurance companies pay a percentage of what medicare pays. For instance BCBS might offer a doctor to pay 135% of medicare if the doctor signs up for their panel. Medicare’s pricing sheet is set up politically (it being a govt. program) and we know that it is set up wrong. Fixing the pricing is “too expensive” so we’ve limped along for decades with a known distortive pricing system for both private and public healthcare.

            But this isn’t a tit for tat political compromise. The problem with the blue state model is that it has an inadequate grasp of the objective facts of how to run a society well and thus it makes more mistakes and often unforced errors. The fix is to have a better relationship with truth, not to cut a deal where you let me gore your ox in exchange for me letting you gore mine.

            I’ve got no problem with statistics collection. The gunshot database you want would be an emergent dataset that would naturally come out of such a move. You couldn’t prevent such a thing from happening with the model I’m advocating and I’m perfectly fine with that. We’d also get a better handle on defensive gun use and be able to make more data driven choices on the balance between how guns save lives vs take them. That would be all to the good.

      • Frank Natoli

        Having been born and raised in NYC, having ridden the subways to the point where I had all the lines memorized, I can’t help but think that what was done in NYC in the late 19th and early 20th century is impossible to do today, thanks entirely to the blue model. But it isn’t just in NYC. There are any number of choke points on the interstates that a few miles of an extra lane would solve, but that lane cannot be built, not because of the land, not because there isn’t enough concrete or steel, but because the blue model says NO, you will all suffer in traffic in your cars. They’re sadists.

        • nekulturny

          “traffic calming” is satanic! grrrrrrr

      • Fat_Man

        Don’t feed the troll.

      • fastrackn1

        “Look at who is migrating where and you can see that people feel they are getting a better deal.”

        I am getting a much better deal as a home builder here in Texas (little or no regulation or fees), than I ever got when building in California and Oregon (2 states that heavily regulate development and construction), for 20 years.
        That trickles down to the end user (homeowner), who can buy a nice all-brick brand new home for $100 to $125 sq. ft.
        Try to do that in a blue state….

    • JR

      Alternatively, one can read it as saying “let’s admit to ourselves that a large portion of people we are employing in the sectors you mentioned are over-paid, especially given the levels of current and near-term technology. We can’t afford to continue over-paying them indefinitely, because arithmetic. Somebody will have to take a cut”.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Yes, and most all of present-day politics seems to about who is going to be “cut”—— for the benefit of what else.

        I’m aware that Republicans are quite concerned about disintegration of families—–hence the disintegration of “family values” in the USA. I am too.

        You can argue that a great number of workers are “overpaid” in relation to some competitive factor.

        I’ll argue that if you don’t have Mom and Dad able to earn a reasonable (REASONABLE, not excessive) income without Mom working two jobs (outside AND inside the home) for every day of her life—–you are going to have social breakdown. If Dad is relegated to a sense of personal defeat for most of his life—-that also will give you social breakdown.

        The “arithmetic” thing you argue is a matter of priorities. The tone here at TAI often seems to ignore the important ones.
        That’s why I raise objections.

        • JR

          The arithmetic that I argue is the ugly reality that all heavily unionized industries, be it public, private or national, eventually run into a problem where the growth of obligations that were deferred in the past overwhelms any other expense and source of revenue. It is a reality now facing Rahm, the mayor of Chicago who recently got re-elected by telling people that he is aware that arithmetic exists. BTW, agree 100% on Mom and Dad earning reasonable money is key. You are talking classic middle-class. But numbers don’t lie and they tell us that in “deep blue” locals middle class (the one that is not drawing its paycheck from the local public sector union) is fleeing. There is no middle class in NYC, or SF, or even Chicago for that matter, not to mention Detroit, Baltimore, etc etc…. High regulation/high cost of local government/high zoning restrictions are not the stuff a family of 50K income dreams about. They would rather go to a place like Orlando, or Houston, or Phoenix. Also, you can’t support high levels of low skilled immigration and be shocked and appalled by the decline of low(er) skill wages, because law of supply and demand. Big Blue politicians like my very own Bill de Blasio does exactly that because and no one in the press bothers to ask him how the arithmetic actually works out.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I’m glad you agree on the social necessity of Mom and Dad earning reasonable money in order to have the kind of family-based society that both Democrats and Republicans claim to want in the USA. Making a long story short, I wish our politicians on both the left and right could come to the realization that more high-end tax cuts is not the route to the end goal about families which we all seem to otherwise agree on.

          • JR

            When top 20% of earners pay 80% of the income taxes, any kind of tax cuts will benefit them a lot. But they also put a lot into the kitty, so it’s kind of like complaining that people that go to the gym get to reap the benefit of having a better physique. Alternative model of taxing them a lot to create a class of government dependents, be it directly on the dole or on a payroll, doesn’t seem to be producing the desired results either. Overall, I think we both can agree that the time of Sacred Cows is coming to an end. People on both the left and the right better come to grips with that. We are entering thereisno$%#%money period, where things tend to get a bit ugly and iconoclastic.

          • FriendlyGoat

            (Some) Republicans believe the sacred cows are guns, private clubs, gated communities, segregated suburbs, private schools, the NFL and secrecy in foreign tax havens—among other things. They are trying to tell us lesser-lights that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unions, private pensions, and fair labor standards are the Sacred Cows they plan to attack. We, while being perceived as dumb as rocks, are resisting that characterization.

            The idea that there is no $%#% money in America is not exactly true.

          • Ritchie The Riveter

            The question is, how do we deploy the limited resources of a national economy, in ways that lead to the most positive outcomes for the most people?

            The Blue Model assumes that the elite few we deem “experts” and “leaders” top have sufficient insight and wisdom to do that for everyone else via the coercive force of law. That requires nothing less than omniscience and perfect virtue on their part … and therefore it is no wonder why it is not sustainable. Putting the “right” people in charge does not work, because there are NO people that meet the required standard.

            Government has a legitimate mission: to secure our unalienable rights, so that WE can find the answers to the rest of the problems.

            Limit it to that mission, give the money back to the people, and be HONEST with them about what it is going to take to solve their problems: that YOU don’t know as much as THEY do about them, so THEY need to take the lead in solving them, perhaps with help from you.

            And make sure they know that they have to RESPONSIBLY solve them, because we can no longer afford to maintain a government with the alleged ability to bail out every bit of stupidity out there, because when we have tried that we have ended up wasting the vast majority of the funding for socio-economic aid … from government grants/loans, to student loan guarantees, to welfare … on bureaucratic bloat and cronyism. WE need to not only strive for self-sufficiency, but strive to be in a position to help our neighbors when in need.

            And while we’re at it, let us ALL be ready to slaughter some of our own sacred cows … like our pet tax deduction, or regulations that do more to benefit our competitive position than they do to serve the public interest.

            Do what I suggest, and …
            … you now have millions of problem-solvers engaged, who have a far better view of the problems we face AND are far more accountable for the results of the problem-solving efforts.
            … you curb the continued waste of resources you get when politics, cronyism, and bureaucratic inertia get in they way of stopping stupidity.
            … you have citizens who are more prepared to work around the errors, greed, and mendacity of others, particularly their leaders – and are far less vulnerable to life’s shocks.

            Ultimately, you end up with a nation that is more prosperous, with SUSTAINABLE prosperity.

            In other words, it’s time for Americans to come out of the Blue Model playpen and GROW UP, because staying in the playpen IS the problem.

          • fastrackn1

            Great comment!

        • ipencil

          “REASONABLE, not excessive”

          It’s always nice to know that people like you exist, who knows exactly what other people should earn and stand at the ready to use the violence of the police state to rob those you think have “excessive” amounts of income. Your greed is palpable.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I mentioned “not excessive” simply to point out that I’m not trying to make all poor people rich at your expense. But if we want functioning families with “family values”, then family economics have to be in place to support them. This has nothing to do with “my greed”. I’m retired and looking to the plight of many of today’s young couples and “getting” their uphill battle. I really don’t know what you’re doing.

          • Ritchie The Riveter

            That uphill battle is the result of Progressives LYING to ordinary Americans, about their responsibilities and capabilities … while conveniently ignoring a basic fact: the more you have government do FOR you, the more opportunities you create for the very crony capitalism you apparently fear.

            Workers should be paid according to the productivity that results from their efforts …. not according to increases in productivity as the result of leveraging employer-provided technology, not according to politically-connected union pressure, not according to the moral assumptions that underlie the Blue Social Model.

            And they should also be expectedand empowered to provide services in a competitive market, which swings BOTH ways … where the highly productive have employers competing for their services, as well as facing competition from other, productive people.

            As long as you keep pushing the idea that “workers” don’t have to think of themselves as a business, you won’t see the problem solved … which is a basic flaw of the Blue Model.

          • ipencil

            simply to point out that I’m not trying to make all poor people rich at your expense

            Except that you are. Your entire point is to use the police state to take from others and give to yourself.

            But if we want functioning families with “family values”, then family economics have to be in place to support them.

            This cannot be achieved by having resources politically controlled. As we all ready know, the best way for this to happen is for people to live and work, controlling their own resources, rather than being serfs, ruled by politicians who determine how others live and work, as well as what they’re allowed to have.

            This has nothing to do with “my greed”

            It has everything to do with your greed. You see that others have more than you think they should have because in your greed, myopic mind others aren’t allowed to live and work differently than you think they should.

            I’m retired and looking to the plight of many of today’s young couples and “getting” their uphill battle.

            That battle is largely caused by you and your greed. You insist that government take from the young and relatively poor and give to the old and relatively rich, then euphemistically call it “social security” and “medicare”.

            I really don’t know what you’re doing.

            Working and fighting the greed of your kind.

        • TMLutas

          Once automation became a thing, laborers needed to adjust to the fact that their labor will not always be needed in the same numbers in the same industries. People desperately need to take off our blinders and realize that there are a lot of things that we are simply not doing that we could be doing and should be doing. It is that sort of increase in the demand for labor that will provide the socially stabilizing end result that both you and I desire.

          Here’s an example. We have a system of land registry that used to be first class. Then the Wall Street boys started cheating and not filing with the county land registry (names and titles vary across the 50 states) leading to a set of really bad outcomes. Now there are an unknown number of land records all across the USA that are simply inaccurate. We need to fix that. We are not. Instead we’re pretending it never happened and hoping that the natural turnover of land will fix this piecemeal over the next 30 years.

          This is lunacy.

          We could be hiring a lot of people to do honest work to fix the land registries and put them all into the 21st century technologically so that land transactions are quicker, more reliable, and cost less to do. But we’re not doing it. We should.

    • Millie_Woods

      No. That’s not it. And once you start working for the government you’re hardly ‘ordinary’ anymore. That’s why everyone wants to work for them.

  • jeburke

    Isn’t one reason for these grandiose projects where cost is no object (setting aside whether they are needed or properly prioritized) that they are being paid for through the capital budgets of supposedly “independent” public authorities — e.g., the state MTA and the bi-state Port Authority? Which means these agencies issue bonds. The debt service shows up in their operating budgets, which are in any case separate from the NYC and NYS budgets, so that the cost is not readily apparent to the public. For city and state pols, it’s sort of free money, and they get to take bows for the projects. Of course, the costs don’t disappear. They show up in the $13 toll on the GE Bridge (which was 50 cents not all that long ago), in constantly escalating transit fares, and of course in the opportunity costs of the MTA not replacing rolling stock or doing the hundred other more humdrum capital projects so it can pay that debt service. Plus, inevitably, the state’s direct subsidy in its regular budget to the MTA gets hiked but with no direct connection to this or that zillion dollar project, only a few editorial writers are keeping track.

    The independent, bond-issuing public authority is a common device across the country. It has many obvious benefits. But it’s also a neat dodge for politicians.

  • jeburke

    There are many reasons for high construction costs in some areas, the NYC metro region included, but it is indisputable that relatively high wages is one of them.

    At the link is a lot of information from the BLS about wages of construction industry general laborers. These are semi-skilled people, not members of skilled crafts, and these data encompass both unionized and non-union sectors. Scroll down to the maps where you’ll see that the higher wage states correspond almost perfectly to “blue” states. The highest are, in order, Illinois, Hawaii, Massachusetts, NJ and NY.

    • Ofer Imanuel

      I live in NJ, work in NY, and built a house in NY. I can have decent hourly workers at $12-20 / hour, the higher end paid to an expert tile man. Lower to a generalist. I do not think this is very expensive.
      However, while building a house, I wasted tens of thousands of dollars on stupid, and often counterproductive regulations.
      At work in NYC (IT), if you want to move a computer from one desk to another, this has to be done by a union member, and is quite expensive ($100?).

      • nekulturny

        I don’t know what you mean. At my office, at a hedge fund attached to a large international bank. I move PCs as needed. I don’t call you a liar, but believe you are misinformed or in possession of a half-truth. For instance, on large moves at the main office, the connect/disconnect are done by such as me, but then the stuff is put in bins by movers and moved to the new desks/offices. They look like they may be unionized. But if I go get a replacement instead of sending for it, there’s no job action. I think this may apply more in other areas like say the Jacob Javits Center.

        • Ofer Imanuel

          I should have been clearer. This has to do with the building your company is located. The unions put pressure on building owners (have you seen the inflateable huge grey rat, with some union operatives giving away flyer? for these not familiar, it is a way to put pressure on people who do not follow the union dictates). When I worked in Barclays in midtown, part of the contract was mandatory use of union people for any work in the building. This fell mostly on the companies having their offices there.


    NYC isn’t “Strangling Itself”, the political class knows what it’s doing: it is very consciously & selectively breeding its type of voters who will keep them in office until they retire and head south or west!

    • Teacher_in_Tejas

      Kind of like a Facebook friend of mine who is an immigration lawyer/open borders activist. She was among those lobbying to let all those “unaccompanied minors” in last spring. On the first day of school, she posted pics of her kids starting their school year at their exclusive private school in Chicago and I asked if she was lobbying for the immigrant children to attend that school as well. She never responded.

      • HAPPY

        Another version of your Facebook friend’s hypocrisy is Tim Cook up in arms over Indiana’s law protecting the practice of (Christian, our founding) faith while selling billions of $$ to those countries that execute homosexuals and/or treat women like iPads.

  • DavidShellenberger

    Free the infrastructure market.

  • foobarista

    The ultimate problem is a twisted interpretation of Keynes and a general idea that government spending is, by itself, a Good Thing. So, if spending some government money is good, spending more is better, right? Who cares if it’s wasted – it’s being “pumped into the economy” and is therefore a “good thing”.

    In nearly all discussions of infrastructure spending, especially in “blue” areas, the main discussion focuses on the amount of jobs created by the build, the lawsuits needed to grind through to get the build done, the environmental impact studies to be done, and all the other people who get paid from the build – very few of whom have anything to do with the physical act of constructing the project.

    The thing few seem to notice is that this whole idea is fundamentally corrupt. The objective of any organization when doing anything should be to accomplish its objectives using the least amount of resources. When this isn’t the case, the organization is acting in a corrupt manner.

  • Chris Bray

    Tammany lives.

  • MoReport

    A governmental entity which declares bankruptcy should go into receivership;
    Its entire power structure/administration should be replaced. Not advised or
    supervised, _replaced_ , with a reform administration which answers to the
    next higher level of government, not to local voters who have demonstrated
    their unfitness to cast a ballot. Never happen ? Never is a long time; Wait for
    Detroit, Chicago, and maybe California to provide horrible warnings, and
    get back to me on that.

    • Dave

      Exactly. I think much of our “collapsing infrastructure” problem is actually a mismanagement problem. One example: A few years ago I looked at New York City’s water department when they had water main break that made the national news. If I remember correctly, at that time they were servicing some $30 billion in debt while bragging about how NYC has some of the lowest water rates in the nation. Perhaps they should raise their rates and fix their capital infrastructure instead of whining for Uncle Sam to bail them out.

  • Corlyss

    Too many noisy stakeholders=gridlock on steroids.

  • buddygonzo

    Government isn’t about helping anyone. It’s government for government’s sake – it’s a jobs program. That’s why there usually no accountability and no results.

  • Stormcrow

    My GOD we are talking about a 10 Billion dollar bus station and we have a modern
    liberal troll who thinks this is defensible. This delusional thinking is why I gave up on the blue side back before they even had a color assigned to them.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Who supports the bus station? The most active liberal troll here was just complaining that the bus station was being used in this article to project a general complaint about “the blue model” onto nearly everything else.

  • motoguzzi

    And calls for a Federal bailout in three, two, one…

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