>

 

My Sunday Washington Post Business Section column is out. This morning, we revisit our October 2011 discussion about infrastructure repair.

The present conversation is about the once in a lifetime opportunity to finance these works at historically low interest rates, which are now starting to rise.

Here’s an excerpt from the column:

“Thanks to the Federal Reserve’s zero interest rates and quantitative easing policies, borrowing costs are near generational lows. The costs of funding the repair and renovation of America’s decaying infrastructure are as cheap as they have been since World War II.

But the era of cheap credit may be nearing its end. And thanks to a dysfunctional Washington, D.C., we are on the verge of missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The thinking here is that all of these things will eventually occur — bridges are falling like dominoes — so we might as well do it when the costs are cheaper rather than expensive.

“The United States once enjoyed what venture capitalists like to call “first mover advantage.” We innovated in these areas and were often the first to deploy these infrastructures and technologies. By virtue of being first, our systems tend to be older and in greater need of repair than in most of the world. Not bringing them up to date leaves us at an economic disadvantage vs. the rest of the world.

We do not want to miss the historic opportunity to finance projects at unusually inexpensive rates. Indeed, dysfunction in D.C. has already impacted state and municipal financing vehicles like the Build America Bonds. Sequestration has eliminated most of their special tax credits, and their usage as a financing vehicle has slowed significantly. It is not surprising that the public works projects that these were funding have fallen off dramatically.”

We are fools if we let this opportunity slip by . . .

>

 

Source:
Rising interest rates could mean the window to fix infrastructure on the cheap is closing
By Barry Ritholtz
Washington Post July 12 2013  
http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/fix-infrastructure-on-the-cheap-while-you-still-can/2013/07/11/ac0595c8-e51c-11e2-a11e-c2ea876a8f30_story.html

Category: Fixed Income/Interest Rates, Taxes and Policy

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.

55 Responses to “Golden Opportunity to Update Infrastructure Will Soon Be Gone”

  1. constantnormal says:

    “We are fools if we let this opportunity slip by . . .”

    like the scorpion, “it’s our nature” …

  2. Mbuna says:

    I think Washington would define infrastructure repair as polishing up your re-election campaign machinery, which would include greasing your lobbyist pipeline. Anything else is superfluous.

  3. RW says:

    The people who make the key policy decisions are not out of work nor are their friends and all the Very Serious People believe the country is in a “deficit crisis” induced by too much government debt caused mainly by giveaways to the poor and similar moochers so …

    Mind you, they have no viable economic models for most of this and what little they do have is not supported by evidence but they do have a nice little morality tale, it costs them nothing to believe in their virtue so …

    We should have had at least a dozen major jobs and infrastructure bills passed beginning five years ago — seizing the big banks beginning then would have been good too — and the fact that we did not and do not is simply damning; big fail, really big.

  4. constantnormal says:

    I suspect that our “window of opportunity” is already past, given the amount of time it would take to gear up to do the work, hire (and train) the workers (I would hope that the legislation would require that all employed under this program be American citizens), and actually perform these enormous tasks, if we had started on January 1, 2008 (the latest date when we properly should have begun this work), we would only have made a small dent in the mountain of work to be performed by this time.

    (But our employment problem, and the Great Recession, would never have occurred)

    Look at how long it took to build the interstate highway system, which was, after all, a fairly mundane bit of road construction, emulating the autobahn on a budget, across a much larger chunk of land.

    But that is no excuse for delay, as the apocryphal story goes, when one of Napoleon’s aide’s reacted to his desire to plant roadside trees to shade his armies on their long marches, by telling him it would take 20 years before it would help, he supposedly replied, “Then we’d better get on it right away”.

    • capitalistic says:

      It doesn’t take time to “gear up” for large scale infrastructure development, especially in the US. We have the technology, human capital and resources to do so. The problem is, some folks within the political spectrum (backed by patriotic America corporations) have hijacked the initiative for political gain. What’s even more bizarre is that a large scale infrastructure program would do wonders for the economy. But I digress…

  5. mbrmd says:

    A good column to do a status check on 18 to 24 months from now. If one has the stomach for another cause to weep over with regard to our gnat-brained elected officials.

    • 873450 says:

      Other than costing a whole lot more to fix, 18-24 months from now our collapsing infrastructure will remain neglected; same as today, same as 18-24 months ago, same as 18-24 months before that…

  6. S Brennan says:

    Early on Barak once famously said that he could not find any shovel ready jobs…instead he thought implementing the Heritage Foundation plan of medical insurance “reform” put forth in1993 was America’s top priority. And so the havoc that was created by Bush was multiplied by Obama insistence that Bush’s right wing policies be continued, hence my use of the term “Bush/Obama Administration”. Please note the absence of a plurality.

    We’ve had 16 years of crappy policies, now I know cheerleaders of both camps will point to the other to say who was worse, he who started it in ignorance, or he who finished it with foreknowledge. Does it matter so far as the empire is concerned? Why not argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, if you support either man, you have your head up your buttocks.

  7. Moss says:

    The wonks should have pushed for the establishment of that infrastructure bank that was talked about early on during the stimulus bill. The hawks and other government is the problem crusaders will not let it happen now especially with Hillary in the wings. Unless it can be accomplished via an executive order the House as it stands will never agree.

  8. Greg0658 says:

    governments should not be in deficit
    laws should make it impossible
    government creditors should not be allowed to live larger on government debt

    law should exist that riding government like a leech should be forever always illegal

    balance each year with taxes collected – that’ll put an end to this inflation of people#s and expectations

    • willid3 says:

      not really. even when the government was in balance. inflation happened. but by all means lets punish the people. after all, who cares about them? and who needs houses? but then its been very rare when it was in balance going all the way back to the beginning of the US. and being in balance hasn’t helped make things stable or better

  9. chartist says:

    Here in Cincinnati we are facing a mega bridge replacement project. The Brent Spence bridge, a double decker, is in need of replacement and discussions are currently going on as to logistics and cost. This is scheduled to be a $2.5 billion dollar project.

  10. JVHaar says:

    I understand the thinking of improving infrastructure and doing so during a time of low demand/high employment and low interest rates, but Japan did this years ago. Now Japan is broke with nice roads that its citizens cannot afford the cost of fuel or gas to use. I can’t see how the result here would be any different. Even if we assume that all funds for these infrastructure projects are put to good use-not for bridges to nowhere. I do not see how a massive infrastructure project will provide the return on investment that it will cost or even close to the return that past infrastructure improvements have had on the US economy. Unfortunately, I don’t think our future lies in our past endeavors. I would like to be wrong, but I don’t think improving how we did business or lived in the past will be our guide to the future.

    ~~~

    BR: Japan’s citizens cannot afford gas? WTF are you talking about?
    DOES THE STATUTE OF LIBERTY SAID SEND ME YOUR TIRED BULLSHIT RHETORIC? Seriously

  11. Frilton Miedman says:

    To the members of ALEC or Heritage Foundation, risking higher taxes for things like roads, bridges or reducing backed up traffic in rush hour means nothing, if it slows growth here they can simply move their money elsewhere.

    This, and just about every problem this country has, is rooted in the legalization of bribery, Buckley/Valeo & Citizens United now allows near complete control over rule of law by the highest bidder.

    Bribery is NOT free speech, the decline of the American middle class will continue until this is resolved.

  12. b_thunder says:

    When “my” city council put on a ballot a tax hike to fix infrastructure, I got excited: since i’ve moved to this very small suburban town 11 years ago the roads have deteriorated quite significantly. My excitement turned into ancuncontrolled rage when I saw detailed breakdown of what kinds of “infrastructure improvements” the council was proposing, and at what cost. There was, for instance, a plan to improve several “parks.” Well, each park is approximately 100 by 150ft grass lawn with a gazebo and 2-3 children slides nested between single-family homes. There aren’t even parking spots – you park on the side of the road in front of the slides and the gazebo. One of those “improvements” would cost $1.2 MILLION!!! The cheapest was $800k. This is I suppose to keep the grass green, is to keep the gazebo painted, and to remove trash once a week?
    Another “improvement” was to replace curbs at an intersection. NOT to widen the road, NOT to fix the potholes, NOT to bury the electric wires so that they don’t fall down during the next ice storm – no, just to replace curbs. Again, at a low-low price of…. $800k!

    NO wonder that over 85% of voters voted against the tax hike. Where the heck did they get those prices? How many men-hours does it take to replace 50 or 60 concrete slabs on the edge of the road? By the time these geniuses fix 50 curbs in China they will build 50 miles of highway! The proposed costs just do not add up! Is this because of corruption? Are they the “sweetheart” contracts to “friends & family?” Is it because the construction industry is run by mafia or simply doesn’t have enough competition?

    I’m all for infrastructure improvements, but not if it, like certain healthcare procedures, cost 5 or 10 times what its’ supposed to cost, especially given the glut of unused high-tech construction machinery waiting to be leased.

    ~~~

    BR: Thank you for this wonderfully off topic discussion fucking gazebos in local parks. I DONT RECALL WRITING ABOUT THIS SORT OF CRAP IN EITHER ARTICLE AS CRUCIAL NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE.

    Again, I am compelled to ask WTF? Why even have comments if this is the best sort of response I get.

  13. DeDude says:

    If you asked just about anybody whether they think that “bying low and selling high” was a better strategy than bying high and selling low”, they would not hesitate with identifying the smart choice. Yet because this particular strategy applied to public infrastructure involves taking on debt when “income” is low – most people are reluctant to make the only smart choice. It is a sad testament to the general state of edumacation in this here country.

  14. Hedgy says:

    Barry,

    A few bridges failing does not mean all of our infrastructure is bad. Throwing more money at “infrastructure” does not ensure bridges will stop failing. Bridges failing is more an example of the failure of big government than lack of spending on infrastructure. I believe I had heard about decaying infrastructure for 20 years now. The records for lots of bridges around the country must show lack of maintenance for over over 20 years based upon that. The bridges were not being maintained properly when times were good. I agree interest rates are low now making it an even better idea to borrow to do repairs that are truly needed. But politics as usual squandered our opportunities when the money was there, why should we throw away more money on these same approaches now?

    • If it were “only a few bridges” I wouldn’t care. But as pointed out in the October 2011 column, its the following:

      Aviation D
      Bridges C
      Dams D
      Drinking water D-
      Energy D+
      Harzardous waste D
      Inland waterways D-
      Levees D-
      Public Parks and Recreation C-
      Rail C-
      Roads D-
      Schools D
      Solid Waste C+
      Transit D
      Wastewater D-

      But thanks for the radically over-simplified miss-the-entire-point, reductio ad absurdum.

      And people wonder why I consider losing comments altogether.

      • Ponchovilla says:

        Barry
        I feel your pain. After retirement from the corporate world I started my own business as a General Contractor doing something I have a passion. I have always believed quality trumps a cheap project or price as long as it is fairly valued.
        As a consequence my motto is described on T shirts displaying my Company name
        front side : Go With The Pros
        back side: Avoid Assholes Idiots and Morons
        You need one of my T shirts. XL ?

        Also why I read the Rude Pundit on occasion. No comments and no flame wars.

      • though, it ~”depends on what your definition of “is” is..”

        Infrastructure choices’? see some of..

        http://www.google.com/search?q=Philadelphia+School+Budget+Cuts+400+million+new+Prison&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

        http://www.google.com/search?q=Municipal+Finance+true+cost+of+Stadiums+Convention+Centers&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

        We’d be remiss to /think/ we haven’t been misled..

        differently, ‘Good Thing’ “We” all thought, in ’92, that H. Ross Perot was a ‘Kook’, and that ~”great ‘sucking sound’ (Nafta-induced)” was, merely, a figment of his Imagination..

      • Hedgy says:

        So a Civil Engineering Society provides all these less than stellar ratings for the state of infrastructure and you take it and run with it? I don’t see them as a honest broker. They have something to gain if public perception is that the infrastructure is terrible and “ought to get fixed”.

        I like the articles you or your team post and I hope you keep your comments section. Sorry you feel I can be so easily dismissed. But I don’t see it as reductio ad absurdum. I think my post tries to expand the discussion to a bigger question. If the government didn’t maintain this infrastructure in the first place, when there was a lot of money around, why should we send more money to them now to fix the problem? I would think you want to look at the “Big Picture” here. Just borrowing money because it is cheap and throwing it infrastructure is what is narrow minded. How about you supply some constructive ideas of how we can spend the money we borrow? Or are you really just trying to stimulate the economy no matter what the cost? If that’s the case let’s hire people to clean Grand Central Station with toothbrushes.

      • I don’t see the Civil Engineering Society as a dishonest broker — certainly nothing like the NAR, AEI or other such wankers. And as someone who travels extensively around the country and world for work, I have witnessed with my own eyes the sad state of US infrastructure as well as the advances elsewhere.

        You don’t borrow money cause its cheap, you DO borrow money to fund long term projects that are necessary and productive.

        I am out of patience with the WE CANNOT DO ANYTHING crowd of libertarain dimwits. Fuck all of them, I want smooth roads clean water and reliable electrical grid.

      • Hedgy says:

        A fair criticism of my point of view. What can we do to improve infrastructure without further feeding the beast? Ideas?

    • willid3 says:

      actually thinks the malfeasance of some in Congress and states. they wont care if the economy ,collapses around their ears as long as they can blame some one else. so far they will have cost the tax trillions trying to save billions. because when the infrastructure dies, the US economy will too. we wont be able to compete any more. and considering their short term views, they can’t even follow in the foot steps of those they call the greatest generation,. those that built the interstate highway system with a much smaller economy, and lead the US to land on the moon, and one a war that was a real threat to our country. and what have they ‘accomplished’? beat up a small country that was no threat to us, and spent billions and billion and wasted trillions in doing it. and then the claim to protect freedom, while they actually take it away. history will probably look on them as being the worst of the worst.

  15. ironman says:

    Once people see the kinds of projects that the politicians choose to “invest” in, I don’t think they’d have much confidence in the ability of the government to build the kind of infrastructure that genuinely benefits them. Here’s a good case in point of a high-speed rail project in North Carolina that was approved back in 2011. Extremely little benefit for the cost, except perhaps for the politician-local developer industrial complex….

    • You are arguing by outlier — taking an extremely poor example, and claiming that is typical — and I call bullshit on that.

      We have an extensive infrastructure system that was once the envy of the world no in increasing disrepair. So because a few weasel polticos in North Carolina want some of the pie, you want to disregard the following:

      Interstate highway system
      Bridges
      Airports
      Hydro Electric Dams
      Deep water Ports
      Tunnels
      Waterway projects
      Electrical Grid
      Railway

      Sorry, I dont buy it

      • ironman says:

        I’m afraid it’s not such an outlier. For example, we can point to just about every light rail project outside of New York City as a prime example of where public infrastructure investment is extremely wasteful, and extremely costly (most often at the expense of public transit and the people who rely upon it.) And let’s not get started on the topic of the massive public investment in sports stadiums for the sake of attracting or retaining professional sports teams, which is another “outlier” favored by many politicians in cities across the country.

        You are however correct for many of the examples you cite – and the tool we provided bears it out. For example, if you plug in the numbers for the recently opened Hoover Dam bypass bridge project in Arizona, you’ll find projects of that nature make great sense, and I would argue that many projects would be genuinely beneficial if they also greatly improve freight mobility (this is particularly true for rail projects).

        The one item I would add to your list is pipelines, which would make it possible to connect the Northeast, Southeast and west coast to the growing energy production capability in the center of the nation, lowering energy costs in those regions.

      • Joe Friday says:

        ironman,

        we can point to just about every light rail project outside of New York City as a prime example of where public infrastructure investment is extremely wasteful

        Sez who ?

        And let’s not get started on the topic of the massive public investment in sports stadiums for the sake of attracting or retaining professional sports teams

        Let’s not, as that is Corporate Welfare, not infrastructure.

      • ironman says:

        Joe Friday asked:

        “Sez who?”

        Among many others, the Federal Reserve, who once asked if it would make more sense for the government to buy cars for the poor rather than build light rail systems….

        Joe continued….

        Let’s not, as that is Corporate Welfare, not infrastructure.

        Funny – “economic infrastructure” is how the politicians invariably describe these kinds of projects to the voters, and the money to pay for them comes from exactly the same source as do the funds for genuinely beneficial public infrastructure projects….

      • rd says:

        The most subsidized form of transportation in this country is cars.

        The federal gasoline tax only covers a part of the federal expenditures on roads. State and local roads are funded out of their coffers through a variety of fundiing sources, including muni bonds that are subsidized through the tax-free interest payments. When a developer builds a road in a new subdivision, they then turn over the roads to the town for the town to handle maintenance and future replacement. Air pollution from vehicle emissions has big societal health impacts that result in increased health care expenditures, especially in old age when Medicare is picking up the tab. we have largely eliminated the atmoshperic lead from vehicle emissions, but we are still paying the price in reduced intellectual capabilities and increased violence of inner city kids from the decades when lead was extensively used – if there was a single pollution point source with a well-defined PRP, the human health risk could possiblibly have gotten those inner city areas designated as Superfund sites.

        Yet for some reason, people believe that LRT, Amtrak etc. should not be subsidized at all and should pay their own way while competeing with heavily subsidized cars on public roads.

    • rd says:

      The first stage is largely simply replacing the existing infrastructure that is falling apart before we even start with new infrastructure.

      Have you noticed how many water pipe and sewer breaks there have been that are large enough to make the news? Most major cities are relying on pipes that are over 50 years old. In some cases they date back to the 1800s. One of the major polluters of our rivers, lakes and estuaries is Combined Sewer Overflows where old sanitary pipes were hooked into old storm sewer pipes before there were any concerns about water pollution. These CSOs overload wastewater treatment systems. Modernization of sewage systems and reduction of urban stormwater flow would reduce the cost of stormwater treatment while improving surface water quality.Addressing these items alone would be a major bill that would make work for hundreds of thousands of people over the next decade while providing huge benefits over the next 50 years.

  16. Tim says:

    Great shared insight Barry. Thank you.

  17. Bob is still unemployed   says:

    As I mentioned in a comment here a couple three weeks ago…

    As things are progressing now, we are on track to leave our children and grandchildren, and generations beyond them, with the burden of a crumbling third-world infrastructure and the type of economy that such an infrastructure can support.

    • DeDude says:

      Yes and the plutocrats who harvested all the fruits of the infrastructure (big fat profits) and the lack of keeping it up (low taxes) will be saying: “goodbye bitch, it was a joy while it lasted, but I am on to something young and fresh”. With their free international trade and capital movement, nothing can stop them.

  18. Mossen says:

    Barry,

    Our cellular infrastructure is no longer behind Europe. We are at 70% LTE deployment in US while Europe has just begun. I do agree that we are behind Korea and Japan. However, I believe we will catch and with them in few years. On the other hand our government is building a nationwide LTE network for Homeland security which is a huge investment http://www.ntia.doc.gov/category/firstnet

    Thanks,

    • DeDude says:

      So at least on one of the dozen of infrastructure categories we are only behind Korea and Japan. I feel so much better now.

  19. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    Beyond infrastructure, there’s lots more we could be investing in.

    We could employ 100,000 people at a living wage to pick up all of the goddamned trash lining our highways and streets, and they could make careers of it.

    We could also build and man a fleet of ships to vacuum up all of the plastic floating in the oceans.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_garbage_patch

    This trash is a threat. It is part of the cost of doing business left to the public to finance.

    • rd says:

      One of the solutions to the trash on the side of the road is to not litter in the first place.

      Very few developed countries have trash on the side of the road at anywhere near the same extent that the US does. Go to Canada and look at the side of the road there – you won’t see anywhere near the amount of trash and that is not because there is an army of picker-uppers.

  20. MikeR44 says:

    What is the reason why infrastructure could not be our priority to promote job growth and improve our country in so many ways? Could the answer be that the financiers don’t want to finance thirty and even forty year municipal bonds at these low, low rates or am I just being cynical. Mike R

  21. Manofsteel11 says:

    1. Many offshore investors would never enter US municipal bond markets given a) low yield (as compared to what they get elsewhere), b) currency risk, c) no tax benefits for them, d) realization that rating agencies are misrepresenting risk (e.g. CAPEX, inflation, climate volatility, etc.),

    2. Some related sectors/utilities suffer from a) extreme fragmentation, b) conservatism that prevents tech innovation, c) corruption/high exec salaries, d) mispricing and political pressure to change it, e) a cultural tendency to ignore efficiency measures (particularly on the supply side)

    3. US private sector and pension fund participation are lagging as compared to other nations, partly because of the stagnant regulatory environment, partly due to lack of expertise, partly because of cultural bias, reluctance to get entangled in political struggles and past mismanagement, etc.

    4. There are many additional factors beyond low interest rates that lead to the current state of affairs: local deficits/debt levels, national debt and budget cuts (e.g. some related EPA funds), politicians’ lack of interest in projects that do not offer high political benefits (e.g. sewer), deadlock between political parties and different lobbyists and more.

    Low interest rates cannot compensate for these and several other factors.

    • Muni bonds tax exemption make them more suited for domestic investors

      The Deadlock between parties you mentioned is relevant, but I am unsure I follow most of the rest of your comments about “extreme fragmentation,” “conservatism that prevents tech innovation” and “lagging pension fund participation” — it reads like gibberish.

    • rd says:

      I disagree strongly with the conservatism preventing tech innovation.

      Engineers on large public use projects are not inclined to do large scale mass experiments with unknown outcomes as the impacts of bridge collapses, water line breaks, traffic control system failures etc. can be costly and life-threatening. Innovations also have to be scalable to have meaningful cost savings – you have to be able to roll it out on a massive scale across the country to have a significant impact on overall cost and performance – that takes time.

      However, there have been numerous innovations over the years, including the use of geosynthetics in almost every type of construction (they did not exist until the mid-80s and it would now be inconceivable to have a highway built without large scale usage), reinforced earh concepts for bridge abutments and retaining walls (did not exist until the 1970s and are now everywhere), real-time traffic control systems, lightweight corronsion-resistant geosynthetic pipes (replacing heavy, less durable concrete, steel, and clay pipes), real time monitoring of critical structures, non-destructive testing techniques for condition assessments, in situ cleaning, bursting and lining systems for pipes, horizontal drilling for pipe installation, GPS-controlled earthwork equipment (since the 90s) to reduce layout costs and time, and the list goes on and on.

      The average person just sees a road that looks similar as it looked 30 years but doesn’t realize that its components and methods of installation have actually changed radically over those 30 years.

      The tools are out there to do great infrastructure work. The beast is straining to be let off the leash, but instead the moneyand public approval is not released.

  22. Angryman1 says:

    The interest rates are only low because of compression due to the Euro crunch(basically by itself now). That means little. If the 10 year was at 5%, I see little reason why you couldn’t spend on infrastructure.

  23. ami_in_deutschland says:

    A sound, up-to-date infrastructure is one of the primary foundations for wealth creation at all levels and certainly contributed significantly to the creation of America’s middle class in the 20th century. It’s a win for both the present in terms of reduced unemployment as well as for the future in terms of unforeseen opportunity. It’s a sad testament to the state of our society when something so obviously in our own interests isn’t being implemented.

  24. @jporter says:

    Funny how the politicians who insist that government be run like a business don’t think very much like businessmen.

  25. Germans think THEIR infrastructure sucks — its years ahead of America’s

    Ailing Infrastructure: Scrimping Threatens Germany’s Future
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/diw-weak-infrastructure-investment-threatens-german-future-a-907885.html

  26. Greg0658 says:

    “Finance set to surpass tech as most-profitable U.S. industry”
    time to get to work you Beaver Dam busters
    takes 10′s of generations to undo this dryspell (& spoils turnover)

  27. Greg0658 says:

    gotta relog-in – now i’ve caught up – you shepherds are try’g (for the sheep & wolves)

    whats in it for me ? more taxes to play catch-up ? whats in it for me – someone elses kid gets a job (job doing what) ? OK I give – tax me till death – tis the way

    I want the kids to have the life I had as the sole survivor of the WW2+ years .. the emerging economies need to catch-up too .. all will be well – “someday soon”

  28. Joe Friday says:

    ironman,

    Among many others, the Federal Reserve, who once asked if it would make more sense for the government to buy cars for the poor rather than build light rail systems….

    What the hell does “light rail” have to do with just the “the Poor” ???

    Funny – “economic infrastructure” is how the politicians invariably describe these kinds of projects to the voters, and the money to pay for them comes from exactly the same source as do the funds for genuinely beneficial public infrastructure projects…

    Still Corporate Welfare. Still not infrastructure.

  29. related…

    How do ‘People’, even, “Know” that “Infrastructure” Is, actually, an ‘Issue’ to be concerned with?

    http://intellihub.com/2013/07/12/americas-monopolized-media-the-6-parent-companies-that-discreetly-control-90-percent-of-us-media-and-manufacture-consent/
    “…This is the story of the 6 media giants, who together, have monopolized American media. They own all US corporate news , newspapers, make most movies, own most tv channels, and has hugely influenced the culture of America, leading to mass ignorance and consent for __________…”

    “…all of the media viewers are all subconsciously influenced by the same things, the people communicate with each other, and believe because the other people around them act like the characters on TV, that the TV show was actually influenced by reality.

    The truth is, the way the characters on TV and in movies act, is a template for the behavior of the citizens. This media is created simply to control the people, on the most insidious possible medium- entertainment. BET, or black entertainment television, is racist and influences people to think about race to divide us. Some media outlets, like ABC, have direct ties to White House advisers.

    The president of CNN is married to Hilary Clinton’s Deputy Secretary, Tom Nides. Ben Sherwood, the president of ABC, has a sister who is a top adviser for president Obama himself. ABC is owned by Disney, a company that forms a perception of the world in the eyes of children.

    So why do these White House associates and powerful people care so much about media, controlling the minds of the media consumers?…”

  30. Manofsteel11 says:

    If you’re not familiar with some aspects of the infrastructure arena, it does not make a short comment gibberish.
    a) ‘Extreme fragmentation’ – there are many thousands of mid and large utilities in the US (not to mention small rural ones), subject to different local, state and national laws and regulation, operating under varying financial conditions. Some are public and some are private, with very different financial and operating rationales. Hence, even if the US market is huge, it does not offer efficiencies that make business sense from many multinational corporations’ standpoint. This is not the state of affairs in many other developed nations.
    b) ‘Conservatism that prevents tech innovation’- many utilities have locked themselves up in long-term agreements with local ‘consultants’/gatekeepers that keep their knowledge base restricted and their purchasing practices old-fashioned and limited. Many utilities refrain from introducing new tech as a byproduct of risk aversion, which is not the case in places like the UK, Singapore, Israel, etc. (places where water reuse is the rule rather than the exception, supply side efficiency is regulated and more).
    In the US politics/unions lead NYC to replace decaying iron pipes with… decaying iron pipes, as if no new materials and engineering approaches have been introduced over the past 50 years.
    In fact, some of the largest engineering companies in the US argue that utilities could reach 20% savings just by re-engineering their systems. But, for now the EPA does not enforce (i.e. only recommends) well-structured asset management, water audits and other practices that have been used successfully for decades offshore.
    c) ‘Lagging pension fund participation’- pension funds’ assets invested in infrastructure out of total assets are about a third of the customary allocation in Europe. US pension funds lack the expertise and strategic thought processes. Ceres and other organizations are trying hard to reeducate the institutional investors, but real change may take years.
    One could add many related points, but I am sure you get the picture. Hope this helps.

  31. [...] as For-Profit Model Put Blood on Floor Light Bulb Wars Roar Back Into House Of Representatives Golden Opportunity to Update Infrastructure Will Soon Be Gone 5 Things Parents Need to Stop Saying to Non-Parents How Oregon Is Getting ‘Frequent [...]

  32. [...] and maintenance, especially in the US, including from observers such as Paul Krugman and Barry Ritholtz, who note that historic low rates and the opportunity to provide jobs, make this the right time to [...]