American Elephants


There is No Infrastructure Crisis. They Just Think You’ll Believe Them. by The Elephant's Child

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When  you come to do political battle with your opponent, I guess you try to pick simple clear problems to talk about that people will understand, rather then the difficult, complex problems that really exist. Things like Infrastructure sound important and sound like there could be lots of jobs there. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are claiming that repairing our crumbling infrastructure will be a source of great jobs. Hillary has even gone so far as to call it a “national emergency.” The picture above is very old.

Clinton promises to send a $275 billion infrastructure spending bill to Congress in her first one hundred days of office. In her campaign stops, she invites voters to dream of the hundreds of thousands of jobs that her infrastructure spending will create. Her promised infrastructure boondoggle has drawn Donald Trump into the bidding game with an unseemly pledge to double Clinton’s program. Trump should stick to attacking regulation and tax reform rather than aping her public spending giveaways.

But is our infrastructure really “crumbling?” U.S infrastructure ranks near the top in the world. The lobbyists angling for federal funds are happy to gin up a crisis with D+ report cards for whatever client they represent. “There are 15,000 transportation lobbyists in DC who routinely contribute huge amounts to politicians on both sides of the aisle. Opponents of infrastructure spending are decried as wanting to poison grandma with polluted water and send school buses over the guard rails of decaying roads. Good people want good roads, safe bridges and clean drinking water”— and we all want to be good people don’t we?

This report from the Hoover Institution suggests that there is no crisis, that if we really want to be ‘citizens of the world’ we should help some of the nations that really do have an infrastructure problem that has a real negative effect on the lives of their people.

Under this category is California’s great high-speed rail boondoggle, and the determined goal of the Left to get us all out of our cars and onto trains that won’t work and nobody wants. Seattle has a light rail project that has no riders and costs a bundle, as do many other American cities whose mayors and governors passionately want a legacy and  don’t want to fall behind what their counterparts are doing.

Besides that — there are no jobs. For any infrastructure process, there is a long period of preparation for the project that may involve no new jobs at all and last for years. First there is the planning process, which involves permissions and agreements from all the jurisdictions involved. Architects and engineers design the project. Land must be purchased or condemned (eminent domain and a long court process) and then there are the environmental impact statements.

If the enviros don’t like the project, they are sure to find an endangered species to protect or some other life form they found. With some projects, Indian tribes have claimed ancient burial plots. It  is usually a long painful process that may take ten or twenty years before any new jobs arise, and those may go to experienced construction workers first.

Obama, if you remember, cited crumbling infrastructure, and lots of new jobs — and eventually admitted that there didn’t seem to be any “shovel ready jobs.”  Politicians, it seems, have short memories.


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