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Why We Can't Have Nice Things
Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure Isn’t Just About the Money
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  • circleglider

    Because a robust infrastructure is an unmistakable signal of a health nation.

    Have you been to Japan recently?

  • TGates

    It depends on whether the jobs can be bid not subject to the Bacon Act. Infrastructure investments not subject tot he 30-40% union mark-up might make infrastructure projects more productive. Eliminating the 1-2% of the gross that goes to the coffers of the Dems would be even better.

  • Blackbeard

    What is this new infrastructure the Democrats suddenly want to build? Is it roads and bridges? We can’t be building those, the Greens hate cars they just emit more CO2. Is it dams for water supply and hydroelectric power? We can’t be building those the Greens hate dams they hurt the little fishes. Is it airports? Planes emit CO2 too and have you tried to site a new airport lately? Big NIMBY problems there.

    So what is this new infrastructure? I know, we can build windmills and solar panels! We already spend billions subsidizing those but what’s a few billions more?

    • Nevis07

      One of the ideas that I’m torn about is high-speed rail. On the one hand, if you can link up major hubs across the country, you might be able to alleviate some of the congestion (and long lines) at airports. On the other hand, we Americans love our cars and I don’t see that changing anytime soon – the greens are simply living in a pipedream if they think they can change America’s commuting habits.

      • Blackbeard

        High speed rail is one of those ideas that sounds good but, on closer inspection, has limited application in the U.S. Part of the problem is that we are just too big, compared to Europe or Japan, and on long hauls planes are just too much faster. And on shorter trips the competition is intercity buses, such as Bolt Bus where I live, which are reasonably convenient and very cheap. There are a few places where I could see true high speed rail making inroads, such as the Boston-New York-Washington corridor, but even there we’ve been trying for decades (Acela?) and can’t seem to pull it off.

        • Nevis07

          Yep I totally agree. There’s only a few places as you could really make it worthwhile (and financially self-sustainable)

        • Fat_Man

          The United States has the best railroad system in the world. It is optimized to carry freight not passengers. We should not mess with it.

  • Proud Skeptic

    I thought the stimulus took care of all of this.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    You can’t spend your way out of a Deflationary Depression, you need Inflation to fight Deflation and get the private debt level down to where the M3 Money supply can begin expanding again (Japan has had a dozen or more huge spending programs, and they are still in a depression 29 years and counting). Home ownership rates are back down to 1965 levels, this means there is a huge room for growth in mortgages if only people felt they could afford more debt.
    Here is how America can solve this problem. By paying off the $6+ Trillion in foreign held US Treasuries, this would raise the price of American imports while lowering the price of American exports, which is something Tariffs can’t do. For over 40 years many of our trading partners have been cheating with currency manipulation, with this one act we could overturn that practice of 40 years in an instant. And what’s more how can they complain if we are just Paying them Back, and those trading partners that did the most cheating will take the biggest losses. In addition, this would give America the opportunity to fix Social Security by putting the $6+ trillion from the payoff together with the $2+ trillion already at the Fed from “Quantitative Easing”, and create individual tradeable inheritable Social Security accounts of about $30,000 for all natural born citizens (immigrants should have to fund their own accounts as a term of naturalization). This would do for America the same thing it did for Chile which is the strongest economy in South America because of this one Capitalizing program.

    • LarryD

      The Federal Government has been trying to inflate back to prosperity for at least the better part of a decade. What we need is wring out the massive debt in the economy. Which your proposals would go some way towards. But debt reduction means ending, at least for a while, all the vote buying schemes the politicians are engaged in, and they’ll fight that tooth and nail.

      And our experience with the “stimulus” is that most of it was graft, the government can’t be trusted with managing such spending until we can purge the system of graft and peculation. We need to massively shrink government down until it’s small enough that we can watch the remainder like a hawk.

  • Fat_Man

    Democrat proposals to build new infrastructure would be more believable if they had built some during the last 7 years.

  • Fat_Man

    No infrastructure will be built until the last lawyer is strangled with the entrails of the last environmentalist.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Then wrapped in the skin of the last union-organizer

  • Andrew Allison

    The problem, in a nutshell (and somewhat oversimplified), is that the money needed for infrastructure maintenance is being spent on public employee pensions.

    • f1b0nacc1

      To use a popular saying… “There are not enough upvotes for this”

  • Kevin

    A brief bio of named authors would be handy.

  • Kevin

    Much of infrastructure spending is pure waste. Bike paths or lanes add to congestion, not reduce it. Light rail and other fixed fixed investment high cost track systems are horrendously inefficient compared to adding flexible buses.

    Republicans often oppose “infrastructure” because it amounts to diverting gas taxes supposedly dedicated to road construction and maintenance to spending them on boondoggles that won’t improve traffic flow.

    • OldNHMan

      Roads and bridges are infrastructure, too. Many of our highways and the bridges that go with them are not in good shape, so some of the funds should go there. There is water, sewer, and electrical infrastructure that needs major upgrades and/or repair. (The electrical grid needs to be hardened against EMP and solar flares as well as being protected from hackers, two greatly under-emphasized dangers.) The same goes for telecommunications, in this case things like Internet access in areas where there is little or poor access.

      If the $787 billion Obama ‘stimulus’ funds had all been used for infrastructure improvements, we would have the best roads, best electrical grid, best telecommunications networks, best energy distribution system (pipelines), best seaports and airports, and best water and sewer systems in the world, all while reducing pollution and energy usage. Instead, only $55 billion went to infrastructure improvements and the rest went to political cronies, payoffs, and anywhere else but where it could have done some good.

  • Jim__L

    “With real interest rates flirting with negative territory, the federal
    government can borrow money for free to finance ambitious new projects
    and renovations.”

    ***ONLY*** if you pay back those debts as they come due, instead of rolling over the principal into new debts at whatever the interest rate happens to be at the time.

    You’re proposing to pay for this with the world’s biggest Adjustable Rate Mortgage!

    What could go wrong?!?

  • John Dowd

    “America’s infrastructure does need attention (although we’re skeptical of assessments from trade groups like the American Society of Civil Engineers). “.
    Those are wise words. America infrastructure is “always crumbling” especially at election time. Yet the power plants, highways, railroads and airports continue to operate reliably from an average American viewpoint. What we do need is reform of how infrastructure is financed and which level of government (or private sector) has responsibility. The Constitution was designed to limit the power of the Federal government to a few enumerated powers i.e. defense, a navy, postal roads, a patent office etc. All other powers were reserved to the States and the People respectively. The Federal government should not be in the infrastructure business unless it can be directly tied to an enumerated power in the Constitution. States and local governments should be responsible for building and maintaining their roads and highways. This includes financing. States and local governments should tax their constituents to finance these projects. No more “free money” from the Federal government (it’s broke by the way). In return the Federal government should repeal all mandates it imposes on projects. The Federal government should abolish the EPA (every state has an EPA now) and the Labor Department (never needed for anything beneficial to America). There are other reforms that are necessary but it would take an article if not a book to enumerate them all

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