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Source: ASCE




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Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

28 Responses to “$1.1 Trillion Infrastructure Investment”

  1. willid3 says:

    was hearing that even the US chamber of commerce has decided that its time to invest

  2. peachin says:

    too obvious to get any recognition. After all Washington’s 3rd biggest problem is ignorance, 2nd is prejudiced and first Alcohol (a brain cell killer)

  3. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    Still, the masochists among us will call for austerity. After all, no pain, no gain. Lord help us if we don’t regain a little mass sanity.

    Once again, BR, thank you for the small dose of antipsychotics. Lets hope the patient survives.

  4. romerjt says:

    And this too, “The number and capability of weather satellites circling the planet “is beginning a rapid decline” and tight budgets have significantly delayed or eliminated missions to replace them, says a National Research Council analysis out Wednesday.”

    And this from the last NOVA Amazing, ought to br required viewing before all discussions of climate

  5. rd says:

    Information I have gleaned from ASCE Government Relations people in the past is that civil engineers and contractors don’t do a lot of lobbying in Washington for Federal budget money which they think is one of the reasons that infrastructure gets short shrift. Infrastructure is also not a big issue in Iowa, home of the first presidential circus every four years.

    Also, infrastructure is hard, requiring multi-year planning, actual thought about priorities, and is relatively expensive (similar to people’s personal budgets for housing, transportation, and utilities). Washington has not been very good at any of these things over the past coupleof decades. I know it came as a real shock to Obama and most politicians that “shovel ready” public works projects didn’t exist and the money spigot couln’t be turned on and off on a monthly basis to fine tune employment.

  6. carleric says:

    I would suggest that infrastructure spending is necessary but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t find the money by reducing excess and silly spending elsewhere in the budget. For example the implementatiuon of sequestration which mostly affects military silliness is a very good place to start spending reductions and foreign aid to every little begger with his hand out is another place to slice and dice. Most so-called studies and research projects are just money down a rathole and provide neither useful information or any thing of use. It is easy to cut spending and still get what we can use and need. Any ideas on how many useless govrnment programs there are? I thought not.

  7. rwboomtown says:

    I really good compromise would be to pass an infrastructure bill that did not have prevailing wage requirements attached. Dems get some spending, Repubs avoid a big union give away and the country gets some infrastructure.

  8. S Brennan says:

    Good post Barry, thank you. Had we INVESTED in infrastructure [of all types] instead of trillions for subsidies to financial “paper creators” we would have put the horrible effects of their artifice behind us by now.

    Thanks again, as Petey above says, it’s nice to take a moment to have a glimpse of a world governed by sane people.

  9. S Brennan says:

    Following rwboomtown thinking

    “I really good compromise would be to pass an infrastructure bill that did not have prevailing wage requirements attached.”

    Slashing wages for the lower 85% would make a stronger economy…huh? Yeah…well, there’s just one problem with that…

    The USA tried it in the reconstruction period thru gilded age and…drum roll please, it failed miserably.

    But that was long ago…what about after the FDR policies [1932-1978]…oh yeah, that’s right.

    We tried 19th century economics*, sans mercantilism for the last thirty years and…drum roll please…it failed miserably.

    Why do bad ideas keep failing? Because we keep trying them!

    *see Milton Friedman’s “Freedom to Lose”, a 12 part, one hour show – repeatedly broadcast on GOVERNMENT FUNDED [PBS] television – for a fifteen year period.

  10. Gaucho says:

    Barry, is there any good Infrastructure ETF? best.

  11. willid3 says:

    RD, its not just the Feds that have infrastructure myopia. states and locals do too. they do much better in building new infrastructure. but not so much with up keep. never mind that this is what they can do to create jobs. and in fact push more private job creation and make every ones lives better. and business has finally tumbled to the fact that they really dont do this well. since a big chunk of their customers wont pay just to travel to buy their products. and consider that this big ‘privatization’ of roads (aka toll roads) isn’t turning out so well. and they aversion to taxes is now hurting their businesses

  12. Angryman1 says:

    The US needs 10′s of trillions of dollars of “infrastructure”. We badly need to overhaul our energy infrastructure because cheap oil is gone. No matter how much you drill, drill and drill. It won’t make things any cheaper. The rest of the stuff is costly and won’t bring down energy costs. That is why the fossil fuel cabal loves it. Mucho profits at the expense of people.

  13. InterestedObserver says:

    Just think…, a trillion for war, no problem…., a trillion for infrastructure, no way.

    Seems so obvious.

  14. formerlawyer says:

    @carleric Says:
    Most people believe the foreign aid budget is 25% of the U.S. Budget. The actual figure is less the 1%.

    In 2011 (the latest year for which figures are available) – Total economic and military assistance: $49.5 billion Broken down: Total military assistance: $17.8 billion & Total economic assistance: $31.7 billion

    Relief agencies estimate that 75% of all foreign aid spending is spent within the United States supporting American workers and American jobs.

  15. danm says:

    PPP. That’s where I expect bank reserves to go over the next decade, here in Canada anyway.

  16. danm says:

    The great thing about PPP investments is that they usually fall into the alternative investment category.

    Underfunded pension plans will fall over eachother to get these deals because during ramp-up (5-10 years) they get revenue (return of capital) and these deals are appraised… which means reduced volatility.

    So it would take about 7-10 years before finding out which project is good or not. It fits right into the current kick-the-can philosophy.

  17. danm says:

    And although the loans are guaranteed they show up on the banks’ books and in pension plans, not government’s.

  18. YouthInAsia says:

    The American Society of CIVIL ENGINEERS thinks we need to spend money on infrastructure? Stop the presses! If I go to a barber and ask him if I need a haircut, what will he say?

    Everywhere I go in North Carolina they are working on roads. The I-85/I-40 corridor between Charlotte and Raleigh has been in a perpetual state of being worked on since I started making the trip regularly in 1998. In my little corner of Eastern NC they are talking about bypasses around sections of Hwy 70 that aren’t anywhere near capacity and likely won’t be for more than a decade if ever. They are discussing, always discussing, expanding the capacity of the port in Morehead City.

    I’m not alone in thinking this sky is falling rhetoric about the nations infrastructure is tired

  19. Moss says:

    Will be difficult to get political agreement on any public infrastructure given the intractable ideological divide on this. The Keystone XL pipeline battle is a perfect example. This carbon infrastructure project seems to me to be a stupid idea.

    Why would we want to pipe tar sands heavy oil from Canada to the Gulf?
    Could it be so the Koch conglomerate can get cheaper heavy crude to their refinery w/o having to pay more for the imported junk from Venezuela?

  20. rd says:


    The problem with local and state spending is an accounting one, similar to pension funding. Initial capital expenditures should be funded with O&M costs with it, the way it is usually done in the private sector. No company is going to spend a billion dollars on a new plant without knowing and accounting for the cost to run and maintain it. Yet government does that all the time since they typically work with annual cash-based budgets primarily and usually don’t even want t o know what the cost will be down the road since that will be their successor who will have to deal with it.


    You are probably observing a lot of repaving activiity since that is east to get stimulus money for out of Washington, maybe even the occasional new bridge. All the work you are talking about is Interstate where the state can get money from the Feds. However, I can assure you that many of the bridges on secondary roads you drive over every day would scare the daylights out of you if you went underneath and looked up. Similarly, you are probably seeing an increasing number of water line breaks as well due to lack of repair and replacement. Developers will have built new roads for all of those subdiviisions in the past 15 years and then simply deeded them over to the local authorities with no money to maintain them, so your local and state taxes will be rising to maintain them.

  21. carleric says:

    @former lawyer….so because its not much money its OK to continue to throw it down a rat hole….as someone once remarked “a billion here, a billion there and pretty soon you are talking about real money”….of course, now with the clowns in DC its more like a trillion here, a trillion there….I really don’t care what they cut, just quit spending money we don’t have on government crapola we don’t need

  22. constantnormal says:

    @ YouthIn Asia …

    … an interesting perspective … strikes me as somewhat akin to the one that the 1% trot out about how much of the tax burden they bear … both are totally factual, but miss the point, which can be illustrated by some simple arithmetic …

    When you refer to “everywhere I go in North Carolina”, exactly what percentage of the NC road infrastructure does that represent? 2%? Is that a valid sample size? What are the odds that the ASCE has a better perspective on the situation than you, with your limited view of the problem space, do? What are the odds that they are trying to generate more business for themselves? What are each of those evaluations based on?

    As to my crack about the tax burden of the 1%, in 2009 they paid about 37% of the total tax burden. Seems like a lot, for just 1% of the population, no? But what fraction of the income do they get? And what fraction of their incomes are available for their use after paying taxes?

    Simple one-number answers to real-world situations, or answers based on a tiny sample of the existing reality, are likely more representations of our own personal dogma than anything else.

    Reality generally turns out to be complex, and large. Our personal dogmas, not-so-much.

  23. constantnormal says:

    We have a lot of road replacement (not just resurfacing) going on in Indiana. About 80% funded by a federal grant, it will VASTLY improve the efficacy of commerce and transportation in the state, replacing hundreds of miles of divided highway that has evolved from a rural thoroughfare into something resembling an interstate highway, but punctuated by stoplights and a bazillion driveways opening onto this busy highway.

    Is it fair for Indiana to not be doing this out of our own wallets? Probably not, but if we had to, it would not happen, there is simply no money to fund such an undertaking. It WILL generate economic expansion long after it is completed, that will primarily benefit Indiana, but will have not-inconsequential benefits to other states and commerce that moves along it.

    But all that being said, I can drive along I-465, one overpass past the construction work, and observe rusted rebar and crumbling concrete all along the underside of that overpass. Nothing is being done to repair that, because it is not in scope of the federal-state joint project next door, and there is no money in the state to deal with it. And that’s along an interstate that loops the state capital. Get out into the rural areas (of which we, like most states, have a lot of), and you can find all kinds of things that the ASCE is referring to, that will never be dealt with until they collapse, and possibly not even then. Most road repairs in the US are performed on an emergency basis, a ton of resurfacing work notwithstanding. Road resurfacing is the cheap fix, cosmetic kool-aid.

    And then there is the sad state of sewage and water lines, natural gas pipelines — seems (subjectively) like we are seeing a lot more natural gas explosions around the US these days, at lease more than I (subjectively) remember in the past. And our electrical grid is not significantly more robust than it was in the days of the widespread blackouts in the northeast, and much of the Gulf Coast lives without electricity for weeks or months at a time every summer when hurricane season arrives.

    Perhaps if the infrastructure industry would jack up their prices 300%, and kick back about 10% of the additional revenue into lobbyists and payola, we would have a lot better infrastructure, and a lot lower unemployment.

    Of course, there would need to be a lot of black holes that we are no longer throwing money into, like nation-building on the other side of the planet, or maintaining a military geared up to wage war with the rest of the planet, or invaders from Mars … or supporting about any industry that can be prefixed with “Big” (Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Banks, Big Ag …) via tax loopholes and refusal to collect taxes owed but sheltered offshore, industries that need no support whatsoever.

  24. formerlawyer says:

    Did you read the last line in my post?

    It is complicated. “Often there are both strategic objectives and development objectives attached to an aid intervention, which may or may not be acknowledged in budget and planning documents.”

    “For example, assistance to Uzbekistan may be requested and appropriated for specific agriculture sector activities, but may be motivated primarily by a desire to secure U.S. overflight privileges for military aircraft bringing troops and supplies to Afghanistan.

    Another example is the Food for Peace program, which provides U.S. agricultural commodities to countries facing food insecurity. One objective of the program is to feed hungry people, but long-standing requirements that most of the food be provided by U.S. agribusiness and be shipped by U.S.-flagged vessels make clear that supporting the U.S. agriculture and shipping industries is a program objective as well, and a potentially conflicting one. Studies have shown that the buy and ship America provisions, as they are known, may lessen the hunger-alleviation impact of food aid by up to 40%.”

    From: Marian Leonardo Lawson, “Does Foreign Aid Work? Efforts to Evaluate U.S. Foreign Assistance”,(Congressional Research Service: Washington DC, 2013) Online:

    It is also due for a comprehensive overhaul. I am not holding my breath in the current gridlock in Washington.

  25. SecondLook says:

    Just a quick comment about road resurfacing – 0ne of those prosaic, but consequential things that affect the quality of our lives.

    Asphalt is one of the biggest materials used in resurfacing. Asphalt is a petroleum product, and has more than tripled in price over the past 12 years just has gasoline.
    Which means, simply, that the cost of resurfacing our streets and highways has risen much faster than either our economic growth and the subsequent growth of revenue to pay for it.
    Which means, effectively, that a lot of roads are being resurfaced on a very delayed schedule, and in a number of rural counties, are being, to all intents and purposes, abandoned.

    When a country starts having difficulties doing the ordinary, you know that things are getting bad…

  26. formerlawyer says:


    ACSE spent $1,022,943.00 in 2011 in lobbying.

    General Electric spent $26,340,000.00 in 2011 some 26 times more.
    The transportation sector, one of the concerns of the ACSE, spent $247,406,277.00 in lobbying in 2011.

    Total lobbying expenses in 2011: $3.33 Billion.


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