Wall St J article below outlines a huge neglected trend. When I
socked it to a Calif citizen, this exch was provoked:-
> The access street
and the street in front of our house [Los Gatos, Ca] are falling apart
with potholes for the longest time. Repair is based on the
squeaky wheel syndrome. You and I argue about what is the
correct level of economic intrusion of the government in our
lives. Moreover, entitlements are growing exponentially with
automatic cost of living adjustments and expansion of programs by
you're cooking with gas (as W Graham used to say). I have
maintained lo, these 3 decades, that the overarching problem is big
bureaucracies. Capitalism & communism have both suffered
from this phenomenon - communism more, but now capitalism
is allowing some nasty transnational gangs undue influence.
Recall my retort about the daily divisive issues
and... "We still can't get the potholes
can score some scraps of asphalt from some dig-up, and slap them in a
big drum over an LPG burner, you might fill them yourself -
in a gentle wind, and stand upwind of volatiles from the hot
I had a little
sense of that in New Zealand when we were there, but could not
determine the level of waste (or monetary diversion, if you will) such
as exist in this country.
honest comparison will not be done by Ernst & Young LLC, or by any
Am copying this little exch to a few friends concerned about the
Princeton prof said to me in 1983 that I understand the USA better
than any other foreigner he'd met. To that I can only add that
it's harder to understand today, as more inchoate power-plays -
Pelosi, H Rodham, gangs of hatemongering perverts, etc -
shatter the society away from any cohesive path. And they have
cowed almost all citizens, without the inelegant brutalities of
Heydrich et al c.1932. These are the gentle, caring Narzees!
They are so preoccupied with ideological campaigns, affirmative
action, etc, that the crumbling of public property is of little
concern to them.
a sober society would
U.S. INFRASTRUCTURE FOUND TO BE IN DISREPAIR
By Thaddeus Herrick
Wall Street J
May 9, 2007
Airports, roads, rail, bridges and other transit infrastructure are
deteriorating across the U.S. because of insufficient investment,
according to a report.
Chicago needs $6 billion to bring its subways into
good repair, says the report to be released today by the Urban Land
Institute and Ernst & Young LLP. Rehabilitation or
replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge north of New York City could cost
as much as $14.5 billion. And in Atlanta, current rush-hour
trips by car could take 75% longer by 2030.
The report, entitled "Infrastructure 2007: A Global Perspective,"
says the failure to address what the co-authors call an emerging
crisis in mobility will undermine the ability of the U.S. to compete
internationally. "At some point, the system is going to
grind to a halt," says Dale Ann Reiss, global director of real
estate at the New York-based Ernst & Young accounting firm and
vice chairman of the Urban Land Institute, a land-use think tank in
More foreboding, the report warns that further inaction will lead to
disasters on the magnitude of the levee failures in Hurricane
The report underscores the broader disrepair of
transit, power and water systems in the U.S. In
2005, the American Society of Civil Engineers graded as "poor"
the condition of the nation's transit infrastructure as well as power
grids, dams and systems for drinking water and wastewater.
The U.S. faces a $1.6 trillion deficit in needed infrastructure
spending through 2010 for repairs and maintenance, today's report
A lack of political will because of fear of raising taxes is mainly
responsible for the shortfall, the report says. It predicts an array
of higher taxes but also says help is needed from the private sector
and public-private partnerships, which it predicts will help fund,
construct, operate and manage transit projects. Investment funds
sponsored by global investment banks, private-equity firms and
institutional money managers are becoming a rapidly expanding source
of capital for everything from toll roads to bridges to tunnels,
especially in Europe and the United Kingdom, the report
"We have a lot to learn from other parts of the world," says
Ms. Reiss, who is to present the study at an Urban Land Institute
meeting in Chicago. The U.S. encourages automobile dependency,
according to the report, while a number of other countries are
pursuing transportation alternatives. The report says there were
more than 750 cars per 1,000 people in the U.S. as of 2000, while the
number was just over 500 cars per 1,000 in the U.K. No amount of
investment will be adequate if driving continues to be the only
practical transportation option in the U.S., the report
Meanwhile, Japan has 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) of
high-speed rail and is building 300 additional kilometers by 2020, the
study says. China is building more than 2,500 kilometers. The
U.S. has only 300 kilometers of high-speed rail and none under
construction. The cost for the U.S. to catch up: at least $250
billion over the next 20 years.
The study urges leaders and planners to reconsider the way U.S. cities
are built, with hub-and-spoke systems to better handle mass transit.
It also suggests infill housing and mixed-use development to
reduce dependence on cars, especially in Sun Belt cities such as
Houston, where the average commuter already drives 39 miles a day.
Some states are taking action. California, for example, passed a $37
billion state public-works bond measure last year, earmarking $20
billion for transport, $10 billion for school construction, $4 billion
for levees and $3 billion for affordable housing built near mass
transit. As a result, though, about 6% of the state's
general-fund tax revenues will be needed to pay debt service, a
relatively high level.
Not surprisingly, the greatest action is occurring in emerging
economies. Annually, China spends 9% of its gross domestic
product on infrastructure, while India spends 3.5%, the report says.
While the U.S. doesn't face such massive infrastructure buildup,
it still needs to spend more on maintenance. It spends just 0.93% of
its GDP, or $112.9 billion, according to the
From: Progressive States Network, May 10, 2007
AN ECONOMIC DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN
By J. Mijin Cha
A major new report released
this week by the Urban Land Institute
and Ernst & Young revealed shocking statistics on the state of
infrastructure in the U.S., including:
* 83 percent of the nation's transportation infrasturcture is not
capable of meeting the nation's needs over the next 10 years.
* 97 percent of roads, bridges and tunnels, and 88 percent of
transit/rail systems will require at least moderate improvement.
* Chicago alone needs $6 billion to bring its subways into good
repair. Rehabilitation of the Tappan Zee Bridge north of New York
City will cost as much as $14.5 billion.
* There is a $1.6 trillion deficit in needed infrastructure
through 2010 for repairs and maintanence.
A Threat to Economic Growth
Beyond the inconvenience of longer commute times due to poor upkeep
roads and transit systems, these numbers signal real economic
The loss in time and productivity will slow economic growth, drive
losses, and result in the U.S. becoming less economically
Around the world, our economic competitors are investing heavily
infrastructure to strengthen their economies, yet the U.S is
less than 1 percent of its GDP on infrastructure. Contrast that
India, which spends 3.5 percent on infrastructure, or China, which
spends 9 percent of its gross domestic product on infrastructure
its quest for economic growth.
The U.S. infrastructure neglect is not limited just to transit. In
order to comply with safe drinking water regulations, the U.S.
spend ten times its current budget for replacing aging systems.
The issue here is
that the surveys show that public sector employees at all levels are
earning about 2x the equivalent private sector
need proof before believing that.
this wk the business crowd have been claiming that NZ salaries
public/private have got out of kilter. They didn't claim
anything so implausible as 2x, but did assert the public jobs have
crept ahead. I don't believe it.
have been grappling with local-body road & footpath
'engineering'. In my district, asphalt footpaths which had
become dangerous (mainly from tree roots cracking & bulging them)
have just been dug up and replaced with concrete.
and have the added
benefit of nearly lifetime employment.
Decreasingly so - more & more are on
brief contracts, outsourced from Optis Consultants or suchlike.