I blogged earlier today about how the meme of China Inc. is being used to justify all kinds of government interference in our economy. One of the upshots of this kind of populist industrial policy nonsense is that one often hears something to the effect that if China is doing it, then we've got to do it too. Apparently lots of would-be industrial planners have China envy when it comes to high speed rail. In fact, the Obama administration is planning to hand out $8 billion to jumpstart a bunch unconnected high speed rail lines scattered around the country. A couple of days ago, Fox Business News anchor Brian Sullivan breathlessly blogged:
China's Incredible 5 Year Train Run Makes America Look Third World.
But this isn't simply about high-speed rail. Whatever one's views on rail is beside the point. The amazing China rail story is just one metaphor for how incredible China's central planning has become and the speed at which the country accomplishes massive projects. Compare that to America, where we dither for years over much-needed tunnels, have thousands of failing bridges and nearly 10 years later our World Trade Center site is just beginning to take shape.
It's understood that a communist country would have some advantages in building out such huge projects; namely fewer personal property rights and protections.
That said, the incredible five year run in China's rail system is beginning to make our bloated and slow system even more, well, bloated and slow. If we want to add jobs in this country and improve our ailing infrastructure, our bureaucrats may need to take a lesson from those in Beijing and get our collective act together. Fast.
Let 's pause for a moment to consider just what lessons Sullivan thinks our bureaucrats should learn from China. OK. That was scary.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) reported to the State Council recently, urging the large-scale high-speed railway construction projects in China to be re-evaluated. The CAS worries that China may not be able to afford such a large-scale construction of high-speed rail, and such a large scale high-speed rail network may not be practical. ...
The report submitted by the Chinese Academy of Sciences said China's high-speed rail construction has caused debt that has already reached unsustainable levels....
But I bet those Chinese high speed trains run on time.