Last Exit

Cost overruns on public road projects average at least 8.4% with a very large standard error, indicating some overruns are much greater. It appears this consistent pattern of under estimating the cost of public projects is due to strategic misrepresentation or "lying" as the authors of the study on the matter determined.

Policymakers continue to ignore improvements in technology that would increase lifespan of roads and reduce long term maintenance costs dramatically. This is because they come with high up-front costs that are politically expensive. Meaning there is little incentive for them to take the short-term heat from voters of raising spending/taxing just because it is the best decision and will be save money - as well as lives - in the long run. In other words, the inherently short run focus that is government is what is responsible for maintaining the long term health of the nation's infrastructure. I wonder what Apple's stock price would do under that type of leadership....

The traffic control system in many cities today were developed by inexperienced public officials for whom the automobile was a new mode of transportation. By refusing to use superior methods road congestion, and thus emissions, is greater. Safety is worse, unemployment increases, and data indicates the health of newborns is adversely affected.

Private highways have replaced human operated toll booths with ETC, an electronic method. This allows for easy implementation of congestion pricing, which would result in benefits in the areas mentioned above. Government regulations restricts the adoption of this method by the privately owned highways. However, the government does use ETC on a few highways of their own. Sadly, they still have not implemented congestion pricing. Instead, they charge a higher toll fee because consumers react to increases in an electronically paid fee with much greater indifference than they do towards the physically paid one.

The preceding sentence is exactly what all the "we need govt bc evil businessmen would take advantage of us otherwise" people would claim would happen by private firms in a free market. Yet, here it is. Obviously. Because that entire world view is a nonsensical, logically contradictory, fairy tale. What exactly makes greedy or bad people transform into angels upon donning the government hat?

And upon having discovered it, there are vastly fewer options a consumer can persue to protest it. As opposed to a private firm which would directly (through loss of sales) and indirectly (bad reputation) be exposed to consumer sovereignty.

I am on a cell phone with no spell check so this post will probably have tons of grammar errors. But I needed to share this info before proceeding on to the next section of this awesome book.


New books!

I just added three new books to my reading list: Last Exit: Privatization and Deregulation of the U.S. Transportation System by Clifford Winston, No War for Oil: U.S. Dependency and the Middle East by Ivan Eland, and With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful by the great Glenn Greenwald!

I’m starting with Last Exit first and it opens with some great historical information on transportation and infrastructure in the U.S.

By 1860 at least 7,000 corporations had formed to operate bridges, canals, ferries, railroads and roads. Total private capital investment in those transportation facilities and services amounted to over 3 billion dollars. (Which is equivalent to approximately $10 Trillion in today’s dollars!)

By developing an initial overview of the economic case for privatizing and deregulating the transportation system, I hope to show that fundamental policy reform is essential to ridding the system of its vast and intractable efficiencies that have accumulated under decades of public sector management and control. [Emphasis mine]

I’m looking forward to reading the rest and will probably update the blog with the more interesting findings as I make my way through.