Hey, Congress! Fix the roads!


Just a crazy idea, I know: But do you think Congress could pass a bill to help the states fix potholes in federal highways, make the thousands of decrepit bridges, safe, and put a few thousands of people to work?

Economist wrote:

ONLY the drunk, they say, drive in a straight line in Chicago. The sober zigzag to avoid falling into the city’s axle-breaking potholes. This year the craters, caused by continual freezing and thawing, are worse than ever, and the spring thaw has brought three times the usual number of complaints from citizens.

As winter retreats, holes in roads and budgets are being revealed—especially in midwestern states, which were hit hard by the polar vortex. Those states with money have made emergency appropriations for repairs; those without will have to cut summer programmes. This means not mowing the grass in parks or picking up litter. It also means delaying resurfacing of highways or fixing guard rails, and putting off capital spending.

Looking after America’s roads is a persistent headache. Although $91 billion is spent on them every year, that is nowhere near enough to keep the country’s 4.1m miles (6.6m km) of public roadways in good nick. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that $170 billion in capital investment is needed every year. Last year a report from a civil-engineering group said that 32% of America’s major roads were in poor or mediocre condition. Main roads through cities were in worst shape: almost half the miles travelled over urban interstates in 2013 were a bumpy ride. Ray LaHood, a former transport secretary, thinks the roads are probably in the worst shape they have ever been.

Is it too big a stretch to go back to the hopes in 2009, that we might get a jobs bill to fix this stuff?  Yeah, it’s 2014 — and the roads, and the American people, need a jobs bill more than ever.

Photo from The Atlantic

Photo from The Atlantic

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12 Responses to Hey, Congress! Fix the roads!

  1. Black Flag® says:

    Ed,

    Like “Honest” Abe, (hohoho!) you are just as economically illiterate as he.

    For government to spend, it first must destroy – taking the wealth of people from what THEY believe is important and put it into hands of ignorant bureaucrats who you think know more.

    This creates no dividend, destroys jobs, undermines commerce.

    If roads are important, the people will pay for them themselves. But you advocate more of the same idiocy – that idiots in power make better decisions.

    YET! You point to the fact that they don’t!! Roads are crumbling – because of these idiots you champion!

    The answer is stop thinking political idiots solve problems, Ed, and let the market do what it ALWAYS does best – provide the goods and services people want.

    Like

  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Yeah, it’s 2014 — and the roads, and the American people, need a jobs bill more than ever.

    Your words.

    Thus ends the experiment. Like I said.

    Why? You seriously think U.S. roads are in fine shape?

    Sarcasm is occasionally entertaining, on some rare occasions funny. But it’s piss poor policy.

    Check this out. You could learn a lot by observing.

    Like

  3. Ed Darrell says:

    I’m with Abraham Lincoln on these issues, Morgan. I think a little government spending to make commerce work better and faster, will pay enormous dividends by creating more jobs, by creating jobs that pay more money and boost pay of existing jobs, and thereby create more taxpayers paying more taxes per person, to pay off the federal debt (that’s the only way we’ve ever paid the debt, by the way, is by expanding the economy and employing the middle class, and making more taxpayers paying more taxes).

    I’ve explained this in more detail in other posts. We need to invest in education, which provides the greatest payback over time, and sometimes in the sort run. For nearly 200 years all Americans understood that and acted on that as if it were genetic. But then we stopped, and since the Reagan years, our education system at all levels has been bled seriously. I explain that difficulty, and the loss of our national commitment, here: http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2008/10/12/we-dont-got-no-stinkin-education-we-dont-need-no-stinkin-education/

    But it’s not just education. We got the Constitution as a tool to do what George Washington saw had to be done, build roads west (or canals; the method wasn’t the issue so much as the getting the great works built). Ben Franklin’s drive to build post roads, to get the mail delivered, turned into a national obsession, and we all benefited from it. Commerce boomed, everywhere. Wherever a road was built, business and jobs followed.

    We need more roads now, but critically, we need to repair and re-engineer many of our old roads, which are crumbling, and are no longer boons to commerce — too often blocking commerce instead.

    We have thousands of bridges waiting to collapse. They need to be repaired.

    We need more sewage treatment plants that operate more energy efficiently and clean water better. We need to replant forests and prairies earlier mined for their resources.

    We have the most active air traffic control system in the world, driven by the oldest computers in the world’s air traffic systems. We need to update that. Plus, many of our airports were built for highly-regulated, point-to-point travel and all of our airports were built before modern security needs. We need to spend some hundreds of billions updating airports and air travel, more than can be done with the massive levies on airlines we’ve used for the last 50 years.

    All of these things will boost the economy; while most will provide individual boosts, the reality is that we need to all of them in order to remain competitive against tough foreign competition in business. All of these things together will employ a few million people just to do the work, and create new jobs for another few million people from the business booms generated.

    But they all cost money. Critically, all of these things require Congress to act as a decisive, traditional American business-sense citizen, to authorize and appropriate money to get ‘em done.

    Tax cuts are feel-good to rich people. In reality, the rich can get even richer if they pay more taxes now to build this stuff. In reality, we’re at the limits of wealth creation by oppressing millions of workers.

    Smart capitalists will see the writing on the wall. Daft ideologues will insist that these projects should not be done, because we can’t afford it. Their disrespect for America will be couched in lots of patriotic-sounding phrases — “America must act like a family and not buy new stuff on credit” — but in reality again, all you’re saying is America’s time has gone, and we can no longer afford to be great.

    Screw that idea, Morgan, and screw you if you keep spouting it. We cannot afford not to be great. We cannot afford NOT TO build America, the sooner the better.

    Your buddy Vlad Putin has business designs on Ukraine, and no doubt he’d move troops in to the U.S. if he thought he could get away with it; if you succeed in hamstringing America’s development, do you think Vlad will allow you to keep your profits?

    Do you really feel that punk lucky? Well, do ya?

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  4. Back it up.

    That’s a recurring theme, I notice. “I’m asking for evidence and hard facts, and you have none to offer.” You use it when it doesn’t fit.

    Like here. You’re the guy who said…

    Yeah, it’s 2014 — and the roads, and the American people, need a jobs bill more than ever.

    Your words.

    Thus ends the experiment. Like I said.

    Like

  5. Ed Darrell says:

    One might think Morgan just woke up, having slept through most of the 21st century so far.

    What has been attempted between 2009 and 2014, isn’t working for the American people.

    Back it up. What’s been attempted between 2001 and 2014 isn’t working for most American people, nor for the nation as an entity.

    The massive tax cuts imposed on the nation in 2001 sucked our job creating engine nearly dry of lubricating oil; it stalled out. While the Clinton years saw the creation of 22 million new jobs, but Bush years saw creation of only about 4% of that total, 1 million new jobs. Exactly contrary to trickle down hypothesis, or the supply side hypothesis, opening the money spigots to the very rich didn’t incite them to go out and create new businesses that in turn created new jobs. Instead, they did much like Mitt Romney: When they invested, they invested in old line businesses facing tough times, they broke up the assets and sold them off — taking commissions on the finance deals, but gutting the business core of America. Or, maybe worse, like Mitt Romney, they took their money outside the U.S., parking it in Cayman Island banks and secret Swiss accounts, to “avoid taxes that were already the lowest since the Great Depression (maybe the lowest since the Woodrow Wilson administration).

    Then, when some of the inevitable bubbles inevitably burst and the housing markets tumbled, GOP “consented” to plans to save the financial institutions to avoid another RTC debacle; part of that consent was an extension of the America-killing tax cuts.

    Yes, we got a stimulus less than half the size we needed. While that saved the economy from immediate disaster, it allowed the long-term, rolling disaster of the wealth-transfer tax cuts to continue, sucking wealth from the middle class (who would have used it to build America) and giving it to the super-rich (who used it to destroy the middle class).

    Had you been paying attention, you’d have noted that the only bright spots were those innovations Obama brought along, and not the disastrous GOP polices of the past 20 years, “tax cuts for everybody.”

    I’m bothered by your ignorance, and your pretentious claims to notice fault in everyone but those who agree with you.

    Transfers of wealth aided by the government are always an idea that should be carefully thought out to assure egalitarian and democratic ideals are not eviscerated — at best. At worst, transferring wealth from the poor and hard-working to the fat-cat finance leeches is immoral and destructive to America.

    My quibble with you isn’t that you dodge the issue; it’s that you pretend we have problems we don’t have, to encourage solutions that are worse, and that exacerbate the problems we really do have.

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  6. If we could end the Tea Party/GOP Trickle Down experiment yesterday it wouldn’t be too soon.

    It was ended in 2009, the year YOU specified. It’s still over in 2014, the other year YOU specified. The results are inadequate, according to YOU.

    Like a typical liberal, you got exactly what you wanted…you have no problem calling out that the results are unsatisfactory. It’s people having the “audacity” to connect those things together, noticing the policies YOU WANT, don’t work, even to your satisfaction. That trips your circuit breaker.

    Let’s be honest, Ed. You’re not bothered by my “ignorance” or failing to notice things. You’re bothered by the opposite — people noticing those things. I’m afraid there’s nothing for you here except more aggravation; everybody out here in the real world, who have to build things that actually work, has to pay attention and objectively assess results. And on that score, you’re right about one thing: What has been attempted between 2009 and 2014, isn’t working for the American people.

    You think your quibble is with me, for pointing it out? No WONDER liberals can’t build a web site. No wonder Detroit is the way it is. No wonder the healthcare.gov launch went the way it did.

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  7. Black Flag® says:

    . Tracking comments

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  8. Black Flag® says:

    What is needed is NO GOVERNMENT.

    Roads are an economic good and is solved by economics.

    The best solution to any economic problem is the free market. There is profit is good, safe roads, like there is profit in good, safe (fill in with all other economic goods).

    Government is immune to such a requirement.

    It has ABSOLUTELY NO INCENTIVE to produce any good or service for YOUR USE.

    It chooses which and what it does based on ITS OWN MOTIVES … CONTROL.

    It’s seizure of the highways was to support its motives – troop transport – NOT TO MAKE ROADS SAFE FOR YOU.

    As this ability to transport its own violence from shore-to-shore has expanded beyond road and rail, it is NO SURPRISE THE DEMISE OF THESE SYSTEMS under its control whithers.

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  9. Ed Darrell says:

    If we could end the Tea Party/GOP Trickle Down experiment yesterday it wouldn’t be too soon.

    Damn straight — let’s stop using the American economy as a guinea pig to see what’s necessary to kill a free economy and a free people. End that experiment now. NOW!

    (Historical ignorance in so-called libertarians, like Morgan, would be reason to guffaw, were their work not so damaging to America.

    Did you forget, Morgan, that George Washington’s purpose for pushing for the Constitution — a years-long conspiracy most people don’t know much about but cheer him for — was to create “public works,” finish the canals and roads into the Ohio, so Washington could unload those thousands of acres he owned out there on the frontier?

    Roads, bridges, canals, post office, ports, and all the other accoutrements of commerce that government does best and least expensively — all those things the people who put America together hoped to proliferate.

    That you oppose public works, and good roads, I suppose we could rack up to your having wasted too many of those gray cells that once held that information for you? Nah, I reckon you never knew it. Victim of your own propaganda.)

    Like

  10. …and the roads, and the American people, need a jobs bill more than ever.

    Thus ends the experiment.

    Like

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