Skip to comments.The 99-year taxpayer boondoggle: bureaucrats sell off America's infrastructure
Posted on 05/19/2007 12:37:40 AM PDT by JohnHuang2
American roads are the hottest commodity in the international marketplace. State and local governments are falling all over themselves to sell off highways, bridges and all sorts of other revenue-producing infrastructure to international financiers who are eager to snap up structures Americans have already paid for and for which they continue to pay maintenance costs through endless taxes.
The Chicago Skyway, for example, brought $1.83 billion from a Spanish-Australian partnership. The 157-mile Indiana Tollway brought $3.85 billion from the same partnership. And the state of Texas has recently concluded a deal to sell a Trans-Texas Corridor for $7.2 billion to the same Spanish company that partnered with a Texas construction company.
What's going on here? Why are government officials so eager to sell off our infrastructure? Because it's a win-win deal for everyone except the people who pay taxes and use the highways. Governments get a pot full of cash up front, and the "public-private" partnerships get a long-term cash cow. The taxpayers and highway users get ______ well, you fill in the blank.
Actually, these "sales" are long-term leases, which is much worse than an outright sale. The Chicago Skyway deal is for 99 years. The Indiana Tollway is for 75 years. In what condition will these important roads be when they are returned to government? The folks who celebrate the deals today and spend the billions will be pushing up daisies by the time a new crop of government officials will have to explain why the roads have crumbled.
The roads that exist today were bought with taxes and tolls. They are maintained with taxes and tolls. Neither taxes nor tolls will be reduced when these roads are sold to public-private partnerships. In fact, taxes are likely to increase, and the tolls are certain to increase. Tolls for commercial use on the Indiana Tollway were scheduled to double during the first three years of the deal. Auto tolls would remain flat for the first three years, and then "catch up" with the commercial rate.
When the taxpayers and highway users get slapped in the budget by these increases and complain to their elected officials, the elected officials can do nothing but say "We're sorry; it's out of our hands for the next 99 years." When the roads begin to crumble and potholes begin to appear, elected officials can do nothing but say, "We're sorry; it's out of our hands for the next 99 years."
When the people of Texas learned about the $7.2 billion deal the state was constructing, they overwhelmed the Legislature and demanded a two-year moratorium during which the consequences of the deal could be studied. The moratorium legislation passed the state House and Senate by a combined vote of 165 to 5 more than enough to override the governor's threatened veto. But legislators are trying to take the teeth out of the legislation by exempting half the roads in Texas.
The chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee says the public-private partnership project must go forward because the state has not raised gasoline taxes in 16 years, and there's not enough money to build the roads that are desperately needed.
Well, now, he didn't say what portion of the state and federal gasoline taxes were spent on non-highway projects. He didn't say why the gasoline taxes were not increased if a valid need existed. He didn't say why the state could not raise the necessary construction funds the same way the public-private partnership will raise it by pledging future revenues to pay for the funds borrowed. He didn't say why he is eager to turn public transportation over to a public-private partnership that is not accountable to the voters.
There is another reason for the media hype and popularity of public-private partnership funding. To meet the anticipated construction costs of the NAFTA Super-corridor network, incredible sums of capital must be amassed rather quickly. Not all cities or states have the expertise or the credit worthiness to structure a multi-billion-dollar financing package. It's much easier to turn to an outfit that has done it before and damn the consequences that will fall on another generation.
The sale, or long-term lease, of the nation's infrastructure is not just a fix for immediate congestion problems; it is a method of financing a whole new infrastructure designed to allow goods to flow from Chinese-controlled ports in Mexico, throughout the United States, and into Canada. Proponents of the project know that it will be much easier to get financing from public-private partnerships than from taxpayers who are already over-taxed. Left up to the taxpayers in each state, the international NAFTA Super-corridor network would be in great jeopardy if even one state refused to cooperate.
That's why it is necessary to take the matter out of the hands of taxpayers and let the professional bureaucrats do what they know is best for the poor, uneducated taxpayers, who, in the end, must still pay the bill. The sale of the nation's infrastructure is nothing less than a national tragedy.
We are being governed by traitors.
Boil up the tar, I’ll get the feathers.
Our leaders are greedy, power hungry traitors! They should be tried as traitors and dealt with accordingly. Their arrogance is unbelievable!
Oh my God!
Corzine plans on doing the same with the New Jersey Parkway. Gee, can I get my money back that paid for it thus far?? I should get a profit from the sale right?? hah!
oh yeah, it’s a lease not a sale, no profit to be had for little me!
And just wait until these “leased” roads are patrolled by private mallcop-type security forces rather than state troopers. If the purpose of the road is to facilitate “commercial traffic” hauling Chinese goods from Mexican ports throughout North America, Lord only knows what the “mission statement” of the private-contractor substitute troopers will be, much less what country they’ll be from or corporation they’ll be employees of. Expect fair or accurate investigations of accidents and other problems?
But we can't take land from a bunch of wealthy corrupt humans, because the giants are too big. Then you won't. I don't listen to the media, the devil, public officials, or anybody else except the Word of God. And the best part is you don't have to do anything except trust Him.
Isaiah 57:13 When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them: but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain;
This is just ahead. Isaiah was a prophet speaking specifically about the days we are living in.
1 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.
2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
3 And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
4 Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. 5 Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.
6 The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD. 7 All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory.
8 Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?
9 Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the LORD thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee.
10 And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee.
11 Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought.
12 For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.
Not sure what the supposed point of this operation is... which strongly suggests the *apparent* point that it’s a cash grab.
What are the responsibilites of the buying companies? What are the metrics used to determine compliance? These roads are public assets in that their quality (and even their existence) benefits the general economy and livability of large areas. All of those people’s lives will be affected. If the buyers don’t have some serious accountability then this is a disaster.
Do Canadian ports offload as cheaply as Mexican ports?
They are the taxpayers’ roads. Ours. The pols have no right to sell them.
Because China controls both ends of the Panama Canal and Mexico is closer (and cheaper) to the canal.
Besides the obvious economic reasons, Mexico is also a wee bit more 'lax' when it comes to inspecting cargo containers.
Draw your own conclusions.
Yeah, “Fats Eddie” Rendell is also wanting to sell off the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Silly author. The Jetsons won't be using roads; just pathways in space.
Henry Lamb BUMP. He nails another one.
“Pardon me John, but why would the Chinese ship stuff to Mexico and then truck it to Canada?” Low cost of labor no union longshoremen.
Non-union port workers make for a cheaper unloading
You’re right. For some reason I discounted the labor and security advantages for the ChiComs and their ownership of the Dhimmi Cahtah Canal.
Two word hint: railroad cops.
Sounds like kneejerk scaremongering to me.
Built with our tax dollars, and sold to the highest private bidder who will them charge us more to use what we’ve already paid for.
Thanks for nuthin, Big government.
My problem is that many of these lease agreements include “noncompete” clauses in them - which is to say, neither the state nor any other private investor can build another freeway-quality road within a certain distance of the lease road.
That is meant to ensure that taxpayers are forced to use the leased “product.” It’s also anti-competetive and anti-market.
> Used to be, “conservatives” thought privatization was a good thing. I don’t know what the beef is here.
1. It’s not privatization. It’s a lease. Not only do we end up with the road back in our laps after some years, but we can’t kick the tenants out before then if it doesn’t work out. Worst of both worlds.
2. Privatization is good when competition is possible. How many people are able to pony up the umpty-ump billions it would take to construct a competing road? Give me three or four (or even two) more-or-less-equally convenient ways to get to a place and I’ll agree that competition is the right motivator here. But these are major highways, sometimes through heavily populated areas, which makes the barrier to entry into this market impossibly high.
Without competition, the good-hearted accountants may decide that fixing their road is too expensive and I should buy a new axle every month instead. We already paid for the **** road!! We paid to build it, we pay tolls through the nose to maintain it, but at least now we have recourse to redress of grievances — the people who appoint the road authorities are elected!
I don’t care who owns it. I want to know what recourse I have if the service doesn’t suit me. For many of these roads, there just isn’t another way to travel.
The roads, bridges and other public structures wouldn’t need the perpetual maintenance if they weren’t always constructed and maintained by the lowest bidder. The Canadian highways are built with materials and practices costing perhaps 25% more than a similar project in the states, but they will last 50 years instead of the 10 to 15 that ours seem to last.