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Rebuilding America
The Importance of Making Good Deals
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  • Proverbs1618

    “The United States is not China, to put it bluntly” It is according to Pait. And since Pait is a Leftwinger and therefore always right, I just have to disagree with the entire premise of this article. Surely following Leftwing logic won’t lead me astray.

  • Angel Martin

    Trying to spend money fast = waste. A classic example is the end of the fiscal year in a government department when there are unspent funds. In the Canadian Federal Government, the fiscal year ends March 31, and the year end spending sprees are known as “March Madness”.

    Cost and delays of compliance with Baroque/Mannerist – style environment and safety laws. Even goofy Jerry Brown admitted this is a problem when he suspended the California environmental review process and asked for a Federal Environmental waiver for the Oroville Dam fix.

    https://www.gov.ca.gov/docs/2.24.17_Infrastructure_Letters.pdf

  • Andrew Allison

    Oh, please. China had no infrastructure to speak of, and over-built in the absence of demand. We have badly needed infrastructure which is crumbling. Government-funded infrastructure projects are rife with corruption and incompetence because the contractors are spending OPM. Private infrastructure is a different kettle of fish. As I wrote previously, repeal of Davis Bacon is a pre-requisite for getting value for the taxpayer dollar.

  • Disappeared4x

    Perhaps some of the Federal regulations to be cancelled or amended will be the regulations that feed the “…consultants and lawyers who help navigate costly environmental and safety reviews …” You can bet that POTUS Trump really does understand that.

    Good to pay attention to the Manhattan Institute. The only big new highway project might be I-11, from Phoenix to Las Vegas, to Canada. From Feb. 7, 2017:
    “…Heller, who was recently named chairman of the Finance Subcommittee for Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure, called the highway a critical project.

    “I will utilize this important role to advocate on behalf of Nevada and advance policies that promote infrastructure, like Interstate 11, bolster domestic energy and mineral development and facilitate innovation in the high-tech job sector,” Heller said in a statement …”

    http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/politics-and-government/nevada/sen-heller-says-he-ll-use-infrastructure-post-push-interstate-11

    Hmmm, might explain why so many Senate Dems voted to confirm Ryan Zinke as SecInterior today, 68-31, a surprising surge in bi-partisanship not solely related to who is up for re-election in 2018.
    https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=115&session=1&vote=00075

  • FriendlyGoat

    Is there some special reason why we want to lower the income taxes on those who sell to the government while fretting that such sellers always find ways to overcharge on what government is buying from them?

  • Pait

    The consultants, planners, and lawyers are the ones who ensure that infrastructure projects don’t run over people’s legitimate concerns, and don’t end up abandoned, or unsafe.

  • demboj

    What American Interest fails to consider is that the value of public transportation, especially passenger rail, depends on two facts: population density and geographic area. The ideal place for public transportation is a small area with a very densely packed population. Think: Macao, Hong Kong, Israel. The worst places for public transportation are large countries with very sparsely scattered population: Think: Canada, Russia, Niger, and the US. In the US we have a very low population density of about 85 people per square mile. China has a population density of 370 people per square mile. Low population countries like the US simply cannot benefit as much as China, or India, or the Netherlands, or the UK, or Germany, or other high population density countries can. The value of public transportation, and long distance passenger trains, depends on there being a large population living on either side of the track, within easy walking or commuting distance, who would use the public transportation. In the US there are only a few corridors where such condition apply: between Washington, DC and Boston; between Chicago and Cleveland; between LA and San Francisco (maybe). Everywhere else, the tracks would lie between empty forests, fields, deserts and mountains, with only occasional small towns and suburbs. These investments are of no material benefit to the local populations. That is also China’s problem although they have a much denser population than the US and have many more areas that can benefit from public transportation. In recent years, however, they have begun building railroads and cities in places where there are too few people to benefit. They would be wiser to build roads and airports. Both would benefit local areas without costing too much.

    The problem everywhere is that it is impossible, or virtually impossible, to build public transportation only in those areas where population density makes it potentially profitable. No Republican administration, for example, is going to make huge investments to promote the interests of just those areas most fanatically opposed to the Republican agenda: Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, and DC, where the investments might make sense! No Republican administration is going to tell its strongest supporters in lightly populated Midwest and Southern States — Kentucky, Tennessee, Wyoming, Texas — that they are not going to get trillions in infrastructure investments because the coasts need it more. The Republican voters of those states would object and the Republican senators from those states would be insane to agree to it. When the US population density gets to the level in Israel, where it is more than 10 times the level in the US (Israel’s population density is over 1,000 per square mile), that will be when a national passenger rail system will be practicable.

    • Andrew Allison

      It’s not clear that urban public transport can ever be cost-effective in this day and age. “Many urbanists hail the emergence of a transit-oriented, dense city. Since 1990, Los Angeles County has added seven new urban rail lines and two exclusive busways at the cost of some $16 billion. Yet ridership on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority rail and bus services is now less than its predecessor Southern California Rapid Transit District bus services in 1985, before any rail services were opened. The share of work trips on transit in the entire five-county Los Angeles metropolitan region, has also dropped, from 5.1% in 1980 and 4.5% in 1990 to 4.2% in 2015. Meanwhile the city endures the nation’s worst traffic.” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/joelkotkin/2017/02/27/los-angeles-snapchat-tech-comeback/2/#f74d456433aa). San Jose’s Light Rail system has the worst fare-box recovery in the nation, etc., etc.

      • demboj

        Of course, I agree with you when you are talking about urban public transport as a general rule. These systems don’t seem to be profitable anywhere and even the subsidies become unmanageable except where the population density is very high, several thousand people per square mile. However, it is clearly a public interest, a service that the people may be willing to buy and subsidize up to a point. If they want to do so, let them. Theoretically, there are urban areas where the population density is such that the subsidies for the service are relatively low. New York has 56,000 people per square money but its system still fails to make a profit, but at least it reached a majority of the population. I think places like New York City, London, Israel, Hong Kong, etc. with that level of population density may be such places. It may even be a relatively good deal to extend public transport throughout larger regions, like DC to Boston, for example. But the local DC Metro System is a monstrosity. The population of the DC Metro area is only about 12,000 per square mile, less than a quarter of NYC’s density and it does not provide a dense enough network to serve the majority of the region’s population and therefore has never had majority public support. It was built on the assumption that the federal government and the states would pick up the tab and the local citizens would never have to pay for it. Now, that proposition is being tested, with Trump in the White House and a Republican Congress. Trump may have an interest in a nationwide infrastructure program, but I bet he will not want to put money into a system to help his worst political enemy: the federal bureaucrats who use Metro.

        • Andrew Allison

          Surely the import of the abysmal fare-box recovery is that people are only willing to pay for public transport with OPM. It would probably cost less to provide subsidized taxi service than to build urban mass transit systems. Note that fare-box recovery doesn’t even cover operating costs and the construction represents an underutilized gift from the taxpayer.
          As an aside, I think that inter-city transit in the US has the same problem., because there’s no transit feeder infrastructure to bring passengers to/from the city termini. I think perhaps the solution to that problem is an army of autonomous, driverless taxis to eliminate the need for as many prospective passengers as possible to get into their own vehicles.

          • demboj

            Driverless vehicles would certainly lower the cost of public transportation, but a dense network of feeder lines would be very expensive to build and to maintain and as they would extend into relatively low population density area, they would cost much more per rider mile than in the central areas. The more the feeders extended to reach the whole population, the more they would cost. The only real solution to the public transit problem is more people per square mile in the right places. You need a density of population along the route of the transit system, that is double or triple that in the DC area, to make the cost tolerable and even the NYC area, having more than four times the population density of DC, is having real troubles bearing the costs of their subway. I think also that our cities became less dense in the 20th century as people moved to suburban and even rural areas. Unless this trend is reversed, it is going to be impossible to operate urban transit systems in even the most dense areas.

          • Andrew Allison

            We’re largely in agreement. It’s been impossible to operate urban transit systems in even the most dense areas for some time now, and that’s unlikely to change.

          • demboj

            Yes. But people need to be wary. Even normally sensible people are constantly drawn to propose projects in the most unlikely places, like California’s Central Valley, or, more closer to home, a light rail system to connect Charlotte and Raleigh, NC, a distance of 168 miles, with practically no urban areas between them.

          • Jim__L

            So you’re not in favor of the Fresno Area Rapid Transit system?

          • demboj

            I don’t live there. If the people of the area want to a rapid transit system and are willing to pay for it, I do not have a problem with them doing so. I think they will be disappointed however. Fresno has a population density of about 4,500 people per share mile; San Jose has 8,500 per square mile. That is less than the failing D.C. Metro area (about 12,000 per square mile) and microscopic compared to the 55,000 people per square mile in New York City. They are welcome to try to make a go of it, but the odds and the economics are very much against them. There are just not enough potential riders to make it worthwhile.

          • Jim__L

            (You are aware that San Francisco’s mass transit rail line is BART, which is short for Bay Area Rapid Transit, right?)

          • demboj

            I know which way the wind blows in California if that’s what you mean.

          • Andrew Allison

            The people need to be wary of politicians eager to dispense patronage in return for favors and contractors happy to oblige. Any half-wit paying attention would recognize these boondoggles for what they are but, unfortunately, the voters are not paying attention.

          • Jim__L

            “The only real solution to the public transit problem is more people per square mile in the right places.”

            Which means there’s no solution — people have chosen their own places to be, and those aren’t places that are good for public transit.

            Works for me.

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