Infrastructure Reforms

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GIThruster
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Post by GIThruster »

ladajo wrote:So now let us argue about how you measure developed infrastructure.
As a European, my guess is Skippy would argue for the boondoggle that always raises its head when discussions of infrastructure investment come up--High Speed Rail. Allow I address this issue a moment since when I was TAing Environmental Ethics, the issue of rail investment was a significant one.

Europe has invested in rail much more than has the US. It is still very expensive. Here in the US, Amtrak was nationalized during the Nixon years with the promise that it would be turned around and privatized in a year or two. It has since that time never turned a profit. The reason is simple. Rail is not an efficient means of commuting.

Inside a city, where most people don't own a car and couldn't afford to park one, a cheap commuter rail system makes sense. Almost anywhere else it does not. This is seen by the numbers. Rail costs far more than people can afford to pay for it. If people were to pay the real market costs for all rail service, only inner city rail would exist. The biggest mistake in commuter rail service to date is the new HSR system in China, that costs so much that the masses it was supposedly built for cannot afford to use it. When comparing commute times, rail statistics become even more abysmal. Although Europeans generally work far fewer hours in a week, their average work day is far longer than Americans because of the lengthy commute times created by using rail. Conversely, commute times with cars are always less.

On top of all the economic failings of rail as an ideal transport system, consider the complications caused by pressing for especially "high speed" rail. HSR can't function inside a city. It's only safe through relatively rural areas. It requires very large tracts of land to be appropriated through eminent domain--something fairly antagonistic to the American paradigm--not just for the tracks themselves, but for a larger buffer zone so that things flying off a 100 MPH train don't cause serious injury to bystanders. High speed rail has very few places in the US where it is appropriate.

The railways between Boston, NYC and DC are not suitable for HSR. Hourly shuttle service by aircraft is so popular between these cities when the price of energy is low enough to support it, that for decades, Eastern flew an hourly shuttle between these three cities and could certainly do so again, if the price of energy would drop back to a level relative to what it was in the 70's. Rail cannot make this offer. It is simply not possible to create proprietary passageways sufficient for HSR between these cities, because doing so presupposes a market that is not there, energy prices we do not control, surface assets that need to be taken by force, and hundreds of billions of dollars investment--far more than is required to build and fly Boeings. Rail is simply an inferior answer.

So just saying, if you want to talk about rebuilding infrastructure fine. The federal government can pay for airport updates, improvements in ports of all sorts, the next generation air traffic control system the FAA has been working on for 20+ years, etc. Driverless and wireless recharging electric cars are on the way and should be accommodated. Soon taxis won't have drivers. It is however the states' responsibility to repair their roads and bridges, and commuter rail is generally a poor investment. Apart from inner city and especially "light rail' use, commuter rail has only existed these last 40 years because of the subsidies it gets and it certainly should not get more. If there is any investment to be made on existing commuter rail, it should be in making it safer, quieter, more efficient and economical. Faster, it does not warrant.
"Courage is not just a virtue, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." C. S. Lewis

rj40
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Location: Southern USA

Post by rj40 »

GIThruster wrote:
rj40 wrote:Should the federal government help the states and victims of hurricane Sandy?

Is it the job of the feds to help rebuild infrastructure after a natural disaster? To what extent?
That's defined by preexisting law, FEMA and the limits of what the USG does once an area is designated a "national disaster" area. NY and NJ are already slated to receive such recovery funds in addition to all the insurance funds that will flow in.

http://www.fema.gov/national-disaster-r ... -framework

US Army Corp of Engineers is already in place working on repairing the NYC subway system. This is what support becomes available once the area is declared a disaster.
Thanks!
I guess my initial question had more to do with if this is OK by the constitution (and if so, where).
I think the feds should provide all the help they can, but just because I like something doesn't make it legal or the best thing to do. My gut feeling shouldn't be the arbiter in such things - or, at least, the only arbiter.
Playing devil’s advocate, in what ways does this differ from other nanny state type things? With Obama care, money is being taken from me and given to people who perhaps didn't make the best life choices. Or, even if they did and they had a run of bad luck why do I have to pay? Same with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. Those folks chose to live on the coast. Don’t get me wrong, I actually have no problem with the federal government providing everything they can – and I plan to donate money.
I lived through Katrina and federal support really helped. So did the insurance we bought and volunteer help and other things too. We chose to live on the coast and lost just about everything. I faced these questions back then and am now reminded of them.

GIThruster
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Post by GIThruster »

FEMA is an executive agency created by presidential Executive Order, but funded by congress. The Constitution doesn't specifically require or restrict such executive agencies and since they depend upon inter-branch support, they're fairly harmless. If you want to pick a bone with such services that have no Constitutional support, I would start with the IRS. But given we have what we have and it works, this may answer your question:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Em ... ent_Agency
"Courage is not just a virtue, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." C. S. Lewis

Skipjack
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Post by Skipjack »

As a European, my guess is Skippy would argue for the boondoggle that always raises its head when discussions of infrastructure investment come up--High Speed Rail
Stop putting nonsense into my mouth. I am absolutely not in favor or railroad systems. They suck in Europe and I cant see them work well in the US either.
With Obama care, money is being taken from me and given to people who perhaps didn't make the best life choices. Or, even if they did and they had a run of bad luck why do I have to pay? Same with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. Those folks chose to live on the coast. Don’t get me wrong, I actually have no problem with the federal government providing everything they can – and I plan to donate money.

This is such an ignorant statement. You think that everyone who has a preexisting condition has it because he did not make the right choices in life? You think that everyone who lost his job did so because he made a mistake? You would not consider that it may be because of a mistake his boss made, eh? You think that there is noone who is working hard, two or three jobs and still cant afford health insurance?

GIThruster
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Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 8:17 pm

Post by GIThruster »

Yes well you see the problem that socialism creates. For centuries we got along very well providing support for people going through rough times through charities, without mandates and without government bureaucracies. That system worked far better than the one we're transitioning to. Paying people huge sums of money to play administrator so that the state can see to what the church has seen to for 2 millennia, is not an improvement. Socialism leads to dependence and the growing presumption of entitlement and it leads to class warfare and resentment. People are willing to give enough to support the less fortunate. It's harder to do that though, and feel goos about it, when its no longer a person's choice.

The choice you're suggesting, supporting people or not through rough times, is a false choice. The real choice is if we're going to support people through genuine charity or through government bureaucracies. Perhaps as an atheist you'd prefer such services provided by the state, but history and common sense dictate these things are far better provided without government intervention. The Red Cross, the salvation Army, the Christian Children's Fund, Habitat for Humanity, Doctors Without Boarders--none of these needed to pick the pockets of US citizens to provide the support that they do, and they all function at vastly higher efficiency that any US Entitlement program.
Last edited by GIThruster on Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
"Courage is not just a virtue, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." C. S. Lewis

Skipjack
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Post by Skipjack »

For centuries we got along very well providing support for people going through rough times through charities,
60 % of the bankruptcies in the unites states are due to people not being able to pay their healthcare bills. Just saying...
Many of them would love to pay for healthinsurance but cant get any because of a preexisting condition. Some have health insurance but their plan does not cover a costly treatment that they need.
Of course they could always choose to just shut up and die already!
Right?

GIThruster
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Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 8:17 pm

Post by GIThruster »

But you're not proposing a solution. OBamaCare has administrative panels that decide what level of care people receive and they are still going to go without the most expensive treatments.

Again, you're posing a false choice. You are not offering a solution to the problem you're noting. It's a sad but true fact of life that some people are so sick that they can't afford to pay for their treatment, and neither can society at large.

BTW, I am philosophically in support of universal health care. I just think it will bankrupt the country done now and in this manner. I think the country does need to move to a much more comprehensive health care program but that first we need to get our financial house in order. I'm just noting here that you've made these socialist assumptions and they don't fly well.
"Courage is not just a virtue, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." C. S. Lewis

rj40
Posts: 288
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2008 2:31 am
Location: Southern USA

Post by rj40 »

Skipjack wrote:
As a European, my guess is Skippy would argue for the boondoggle that always raises its head when discussions of infrastructure investment come up--High Speed Rail
Stop putting nonsense into my mouth. I am absolutely not in favor or railroad systems. They suck in Europe and I cant see them work well in the US either.
With Obama care, money is being taken from me and given to people who perhaps didn't make the best life choices. Or, even if they did and they had a run of bad luck why do I have to pay? Same with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. Those folks chose to live on the coast. Don’t get me wrong, I actually have no problem with the federal government providing everything they can – and I plan to donate money.

This is such an ignorant statement. You think that everyone who has a preexisting condition has it because he did not make the right choices in life? You think that everyone who lost his job did so because he made a mistake? You would not consider that it may be because of a mistake his boss made, eh? You think that there is noone who is working hard, two or three jobs and still cant afford health insurance?
It is NOT an ignorant statement. It is, in fact, the most glorious statement in all of history. As I said at the begining of the statement you quote, I was playing devils advocate. I actually didn't say what I really believe. I may in fact agree with you. But that doesn't really matter.

:D

So what do YOU think? I am here to learn. What do you think US FED gov't support of this disaster shows with respect to infrastructure as a whole and the role of government in daily life? Does it have similarities with the so called Obama care? How does it differ?

Skipjack
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Post by Skipjack »

OBamaCare has administrative panels that decide what level of care people receive and they are still going to go without the most expensive treatments.
Oh, the so called death panels. Give me a break! I live in a country with public healthcare and we have the most excellent treatment here and noone ever goes broke over it. It also means a lot less lawsuits and other nonsense.

CaptainBeowulf
Posts: 498
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 12:35 am

Post by CaptainBeowulf »

On top of all the economic failings of rail as an ideal transport system, consider the complications caused by pressing for especially "high speed" rail. HSR can't function inside a city. It's only safe through relatively rural areas. It requires very large tracts of land to be appropriated through eminent domain--something fairly antagonistic to the American paradigm--not just for the tracks themselves, but for a larger buffer zone so that things flying off a 100 MPH train don't cause serious injury to bystanders. High speed rail has very few places in the US where it is appropriate.
I don't disagree with some of your points against high speed rail, however, for the sake of historical perspective I'd like to point out that very extensive use of eminent domain and expropriation took place to build the Interstate freeway system and most of the other freeway or expressway type highways around the U.S. Late in the game - around the late 1960s/early 1970s - there were protests and a few projects were cancelled, but the great majority went through in the 1950s-60s, and a few more in the decades since.

Also, most of the anti-freeway protesters seem to have been "lefties" including what we would today call "greenies," although in some cases entire neighborhood associations across the political spectrum got behind stopping a road. Nonetheless, most of the right wing didn't seem to make much of a fuss about being payed off to hand their properties over... and the "pro-highways" position seems to have become more or less associated with the right in North America (the left is generally assumed to favor rail, transit and bicycles, although the stereotypes don't always reflect reality).

GIThruster
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Post by GIThruster »

I don't really care what you call the panels. The law is written specifically that just as in the UK and Canada, groups of bureaucrats decide whether a patient gets any particular level of care and people are prioritized based not on their ability to pay, or the kind of insurance they negotiated, but by various other complications. Heavy drinkers don't get new livers. Smokers don't get new organs at all. Old people who have a smaller chance of not surviving a surgery don't get care. They get to die. And as we've already seen, women don't get mammograms or pap smears nearly as often. The elderly don't get bone density scans unless they've had an accident. The decision for care when you do not pay for it yourself, and your insurance company is not bound by the codes of your state as they are now, is based upon pure pragmatism of a completely non-medical team. Your doctor has nothing to say about this except unless he or she lies about your condition to get you the testing or treatment she thinks you need.

The fact is, you are pretending that OBamaCare solved troubles that it certainly does not. Using a deprecating name for it and mischaracterizing it doesn't help your position.

Sometimes people get sick and no one steps in to pay their bills. That is a sad but true fact of life that happens often in places like the UK and Canada. It happens here when people don't have insurance and it will continue to happen after OBamaCare takes effect, given it is not ended before it begins. The only way to provide the kind of care that people want everyone to have, is to pay HUGE amounts of money for it. It isn't going to be cheap. Telling people you're going to provide free health care to 40 million people and that it won't cost more is just bold-face lying.

If we could afford universal health care, I;d be all for it. Fact is, we can't afford it. We're $16,000,000,000,000.00 in debt.
"Courage is not just a virtue, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." C. S. Lewis

GIThruster
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Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 8:17 pm

Post by GIThruster »

CaptainBeowulf wrote:. . .for the sake of historical perspective I'd like to point out that very extensive use of eminent domain and expropriation took place to build the Interstate freeway system and most of the other freeway or expressway type highways around the U.S.
Precisely so, and we should expect this. Taking people's land for the "greater good" is a slippery slope that is abused often.

In the case of the Interstate Highways System, it was easier to rationalize because that project--the largest macro-engineering project in the history of humanity--was justified in the name of national defense. The reason the federal government paid for it instead of the states is that it was intended as a cold war safety measure to make a way to empty all US cities in the event of thermonuclear war. No joke. Sometimes we forget how different life was when we were all daily thinking of blowing up the world.

Obviously, no like justification could be made for a new high speed rail system.
"Courage is not just a virtue, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." C. S. Lewis

GIThruster
Posts: 4686
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 8:17 pm

Post by GIThruster »

CaptainBeowulf wrote:. . .for the sake of historical perspective I'd like to point out that very extensive use of eminent domain and expropriation took place to build the Interstate freeway system and most of the other freeway or expressway type highways around the U.S.
Precisely so, and we should expect this. Taking people's land for the "greater good" is a slippery slope that is abused often.

In the case of the Interstate Highways System, it was easier to rationalize because that project--the largest macro-engineering project in the history of humanity--was justified in the name of national defense. The reason the federal government paid for it instead of the states is that it was intended as a cold war safety measure to make a way to empty all US cities in the event of thermonuclear war. No joke. Sometimes we forget how different life was when we were all daily thinking of blowing up the world.

Obviously, no like justification could be made for a new high speed rail system.
"Courage is not just a virtue, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." C. S. Lewis

Skipjack
Posts: 6110
Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2008 2:29 pm

Post by Skipjack »

The law is written specifically that just as in the UK and Canada, groups of bureaucrats decide whether a patient gets any particular level of care and people are prioritized based not on their ability to pay, or the kind of insurance they negotiated, but by various other complications. Heavy drinkers don't get new livers. Smokers don't get new organs at all. Old people who have a smaller chance of not surviving a surgery don't get care.
Not exactly sure whether that is really like that. I do know that when it comes to organ replacements, the requirements have always been very strict, even before Obama, certain things would get you kicked of a transplant list. Some very rich people could try to circumvent them, but even they sometimes failed. Donor organs are rare. You want to give them to those patients with the best chance of survival.
Luckily stem cell research and other techniques for organ replacement are finally making some good advancement. In a few years this will be much better.

Diogenes
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Post by Diogenes »

Skipjack wrote:Well, it cant stay the way it is now either. In Austria it is done by cronies, no question about it, but we havent had a power out that lasted more than 12 hours in my lifetime and one of my friends who lives just a few miles away from DC had a power out that lasted months a couple of years or so ago.


Do you want to know why the power is STILL off on Long Island, Davenport? Read this here: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Sa ... 15341.html

In it you will find reference to a report from 2006, SIX YEARS AGO, which found that Long Island Power Authority had not done the basic maintenance required to secure the power grid from weather damage. The maintenance they're talking about here is tree cutting mostly, and replacing bad power poles.

I lived in New York in the 1990's. I could have written that report. The f-ing power went off every time it snowed because they didn't cut trees and the trees ripped the lines down. They also didn't plow the roads, but that's a story for another day.

You want to know why they don't cut the f-ing trees Davenport? It isn't because they are stupid, it isn't because they don't know, it isn't because private enterprise is inherently corrupt, it isn't even because union workers are a bunch of rent-seeking layabouts. Its because every time they go to cut down a tree, some local Greenies get up a petition or a court order to make them stop. So they stop. So the trees break and knock down the power lines. Same thing all over the North East until you get up into snow country, where even the f-ing tree huggers know better.

Well -this- time it all came home to roost the same day, and every overhanging branch from New Jersey to Connecticut took out a line.


http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/archives/021909.html


You would benefit from a wider range of your news sources.
‘What all the wise men promised has not happened, and what all the damned fools said would happen has come to pass.’
— Lord Melbourne —

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