Skip to comments.Transportation Secretary Wants Us to Be Like Communist China
Posted on 07/09/2012 1:11:08 PM PDT by IbJensen
Chinas attempt at a high-speed rail network is fraught with corrupt officials, impossible costs, and deadly safety failures. But U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wishes America would follow it as a model.
LaHood told The Cable last week:
The Chinese are more successful [in building infrastructure] because in their country, only three people make the decision. In our country, 3,000 people do, 3 million. In a country where only three people make the decision, they can decide where to put their rail line, get the money, and do it. We dont do it that way in America.
His comments are stunning. Yes, thats how Communists do it: A few people make decisions for the country and control the money, land, resources, and workers. And how has that worked out?
Rather than demonstrating the advantages of centrally planned long-term investment, as its foreign admirers sometimes suggested, Chinas bullet-train experience shows what can go wrong when an unelected elite, influenced by corrupt opportunists, gives orders that all must follow without the robust public discussion we would have in the states. That sounds like a direct rebuttal to LaHood, but Washington Post editorial writer Charles Lane wrote that back in April 2011.
The Telegraph (U.K.) reported in February that 70 percent of Chinas railway projects had been suspended, as its railways ministry attempted to continue deficit financing while facing slow ticket sales. Last year, a deadly train crash brought safety concerns and corruption at the highest levels of the railway to light.
The bottom line is that high-speed rail is like pouring money down a hole. Chinas official institutions arent known for transparency, but according to the Voice of America, Even the [Chinese] national research institution, the Academy of Science, reported last year that at current investment and estimated passenger numbers, the trains will never collect enough in fares to repay construction loans.
LaHoodand President Obamaadvocate high-speed rail in America by evoking the image of thousands of workers on the project. Its part of their stimulus-funded plan to get America back to work. But once again, Chinas experience demonstrates that government spending on infrastructure has not helped the Chinese economy.
The Obama Administration has an ally in California Governor Jerry Brown (D), however. On Friday, Democrats in the California state Senate narrowly approved funding for the first stage of a high-speed rail line there. They faced a deadline for getting $3.3 billion in federal stimulus money, which drove the timing of the vote. The state is now authorized to start selling $4.5 billion in bonds. The key is that this first stage is barely a beginning, as CBS Sacramento columnist Aaron McLear explained:
The plan sold to voters cost $46 billion; now the state says it will cost $68 billion, hoping that the federal government and private investors make up the bulk of the cost. But as the non-partisan research group California Common Sense pointed out this week, when one factors in typical large infrastructure project overruns, the cost is closer to $99 billion, with $82 billion of that funding unsecured. If the Feds dont pick up half the tab the cost soars to $203 billion.
Thats a pretty big ifif the funding comes in. One Democratic state senator who voted against the project exposed this reasoning: Is there additional commitment of federal funds? There is not. Is there additional commitment of private funding? There is not. Is there a dedicated funding source that we can look to in the coming years? There is not.
Basically, California lawmakers are just hoping it works out. And theyre ready to tax Californiansand the rest of Americato make that happen. Californians are wise to their situation, and theyre not too keen on diverting endless amounts of money into this hole. Polls show public support for the rail plan has dropped below 40 percent.
Despite public opinion, LaHood declares that the opposite is true, like a character out of Orwell: Theres no turning back on this. Were not going to turn back. And you know why? Because thats what the people want. Thats why theres no stopping high speed rail.
But as the suspension of Chinese railway projects shows, there is stopping it when bullet trains collide with fiscal reality. The states of Florida, Wisconsin, and Ohio actually turned down federal money for similar projects, declining to tie their state budgets to the money pit of high-speed rail. They realize that their taxpayers would be on the hook subsidizing the rail line long after the initial infusion of federal cash.
We need less centralized control of transportation, not more. Congress should give states more control over the transportation dollars their drivers already pay in federal gas taxes. States can identify their transportation problems and priorities much better than Washington. Secretary LaHood could not be more wrong.
They also behead corrupt administrators.
And when someone screws up, they’re put up against a wall and shot.
On second thought, LaHood probably likes that, too.
Representative republics find the concept of “central planning” to be repugnant. This tells me we no longer have a representative republic. Mr. Soetoro vowed to “fundamentaly change” America in 2008, and it seems he has succeeded. Chu is a Chinese name, no?
LaHood is from ILL-ANNOY and brought up in the “Combine” tradition of ILL-ANNOY politics. What a maroon!
Obama chose well. He found a Transportation Secretary who shares his communist goals.
“The Chinese are more successful [in building infrastructure]”
the idea is nonsense
if your neighbor has been getting by on peanuts (tiny “infrastructure” investment) since 1949, and suddenly (in the last decade) spending like crazy on caviar, which you have plenty of
then what is really going on?
The Chinese are playing catch up vis-a-vis other developed nations - on national infrastructure investment.
That is no cause for thinking overall U.S. infrastructure spending is hugely out of whack.
The largest thing that is out of whack with U.S. infrastructure spending is not infrastructure spending totals, but the spending priorities; with politically flashy and politically motivated spending too often pushed over doing what is really needed; which often is not the new, but keeping in good repair what already is.
He’s very thrilled that they only have three people make decisions. I hope he doesn’t think he would be one of the three in this country.
He would be against the firing squad first thing. Don’t need wannabe leaders.