Infrastructure

Why Can't We Build Anything?

The issue has never been a lack of funds for infrastructure; it's that the money frequently ends up getting spent on something else via a highly politicized decision-making process.

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"We're going to fix them all," President Joe Biden vowed, awkwardly showing up to give a speech promoting his $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill just hours after Pittsburgh's Fern Hollow Bridge collapsed in January. "We're sending the money."

It is true that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes $40 billion in funding to improve the nation's 43,000 bridges, though that's a relatively small amount compared to the $156 billion it includes for mass transit and rail (on top of the $70 billion that went to mass transit in pandemic relief), plus the hundreds of billions in additional spending on broadband, green energy, and other stuff that only looks like infrastructure if you squint.

But it's not true that Washington is actually "sending the money." Because of Congress' longstanding inability to perform one of its most basic functions—pass a budget—significant swathes of transportation spending are stalled at 2020 levels. In November, the infrastructure bill did indeed authorize over a trillion in spending. But before all of that money can actually head out the door, there needs to be an appropriations bill in place as well.

Carlos Monje, the undersecretary for policy at the Transportation Department, explained in late January that "the department has begun to move forward on as many aspects of the bill as we can, but some programs are hampered by legislative challenges resulting from the constraints that are in the continuing resolution."

The infrastructure law theoretically dumped $118 billion into the Highway Trust Fund, which can no longer cover all of its spending from gas tax revenue, for example. But under the current continuing resolution (C.R.)—the stopgap budget measure Congress passes when it can't get its act together to do a proper annual budget—that money can only be spent at 2020 levels, which means there's about $9 billion for roads and $3 billion for transit stuck in limbo. That C.R. is set to expire right as this magazine reaches readers, potentially triggering a broad shutdown that would, of course, slow all government functions to a crawl, including infrastructure projects.

It's also not true that "we're going to fix them all" even when the money does start flowing. The Fern Hollow Bridge was not on the list of projects to be funded by the new infrastructure bill, even though its condition had been rated "poor" for years. Its absence from the federal list isn't unreasonable: Pennsylvania drivers already pay the nation's third-highest gasoline tax, at just over $0.58 per gallon. But a 2019 audit found that $4.2 billion in gas tax revenue that could have been used to repair roads and bridges had been drained off over six years to fund the state police. Meanwhile, a 2017 estimate of the cost to repair the bridge came in at a manageable $1.3 million.

Fern Hollow is a microcosm of a larger problem. The issue has never been a lack of funds for infrastructure; it's that the money flows unpredictably from multiple sources and then frequently ends up getting spent on something else via a heavily politicized decision-making process.

There's also the question of why building anything, but especially infrastructure, in the United States costs so much and takes so long. The U.S. is the sixth-most expensive country in the world to build rapid-rail transit infrastructure like the New York City subway or the Washington, D.C., metro system.

Part of the reason is just plain waste and corruption. The federal infrastructure bill has created massive incentives for rent-seeking while ballooning the municipal lobbying sector. Like contestants on a game show, states and localities are scrambling for dollars, correctly understanding that this might be the only major windfall in this area for a decade or more—again, largely due to Congress' inability to do its job in a predictable way in concert with a chief executive who can set clear achievable policy priorities.

More than 1,000 municipal entities spent just shy of $50 million on federal lobbyists in the second half of 2021 as the infrastructure bill was finalized and passed, according to data tracked by OpenSecrets. That's about 7 percent higher than the $46.7 million that municipal entities spent in the same period of 2020, which was hardly a dry spell given the federal pandemic spending that was already underway. That number likely underestimates the real demand, since it doesn't capture contracts signed right at the end of the year.

In theory, no lobbyist is needed to tap into the new infrastructure money. At the end of January, Mitch Landrieu, a former mayor of New Orleans who is overseeing infrastructure spending for the Biden administration, proudly announced the existence of a 465-page guidebook that explains the different pots of money available to communities, along with a data file that is—get this—searchable!

Despite all this, there's no reason to think the U.S. is notably worse on these measures than other developed nations. Likewise, while some of the cost is inputs, such as material and labor, they don't explain the disparity fully. A recent study of the interstate highway system from George Washington University professor Leah Brooks and Yale University professor Zachary Liscow suggests that the X-factor is "citizen voice," which can take the form of legitimate opposition to eminent domain, or which might be less charitably described as "not in my backyard" obstructionism and environmental regulatory foot dragging.

During the interminable negotiations over the bill, Republicans actually tried to untangle some of the green tape with what they called the "One Federal Decision" framework, which streamlines approval for projects reviewed under the National Environmental Policy Act and places a 90-day limit on lead agencies' final decision making. But there's always a reason to pull a project out of the fast-track category. A post-passage January memo, for instance, clarifies that any project requiring a new right of way is ineligible for the streamlined review process.

This is hardly a new problem. Eli Dourado, a policy analyst at the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State, told The Week that infrastructure projects funded by then-President Barack Obama's 2009 stimulus were subject to nearly 200,000 environmental reviews.

And these regulations hamper all projects, not just classic bridge, road, and rail spending. The infrastructure bill actually cleared the way for companies building high-speed vacuum-based hyperloop tunnel projects to become eligible for federal funding, creating a Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology Council at the Department of Transportation to "support the safe deployment of the transportation system." While that might sound like an encouraging development for those who are excited about innovations in transportation, anyone who knows how the process really works will find the regulatory jargon above ominous, to say the least.

In this, as in so many other sectors distorted by government spending and regulation, the best hope may lie outside of traditional answers. Perhaps jetpacks will let us skip over the decaying bridges.

Infrastructure is broadly considered one of the least controversial functions of government, just as budgeting is one of the most basic functions of Congress. The messy fate of Biden's long-awaited bipartisan bill is a reminder that the federal government is so far from getting even these fundamentals right that it certainly shouldn't be trusted with higher-order functions, and that all of us should be thinking about ways to work around state dysfunction given our limited prospects for improving the current expensive, broken system.

NEXT: Brickbats: March 2022

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  1. https://twitter.com/mtracey/status/1498536714880655367?t=b-jsps-k_cl2wf4zwKOYSA&s=19

    There's a disturbing lack of clarity about what this EU supply of "fighter jets" precisely entails. Ukraine fighter pilots will now "base on" Polish airports, meaning "combat tasks" will be launched from a NATO member state? Hello, anyone see the glaring escalatory danger here?

    1. Incremental entanglement until one day NATO suddenly finds itself in an open war with Russia and then everybody will pretend to be surprised ...

      1. Still got 6 days left on my "NATO will be in the Ukraine within 10 days." bet stub. C'mon NATO!

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      2. And it will be Trump's fault 🙂

    2. This is something that's rather concerning, because apparently the Russians don't have much of their air force operating in the area, so they should hardly be in control of the skies.

      Unless Ukraine's airports have been bombed to rubble, Poland is clearly spooked about the prospect of Russia expanding the conflict directly to them.

      1. Once yall realize that saying one thing while doing the exact opposite is part of Russias war tactics, while simultaneously launching a massive internet propoganda campaign, you'll understand their concern.

        Russia has been launching a massive television propoganda campaign but is now bombing civilian communication infrastructure in Ukraine cclaimimg Ukraine was waging a television and communication war against them.

        Russia has claimed they are trying to "denazify" Ukraine, a country that elected a jew as leader. While Russia simultaneously employs chechen fighters who idolize Hitler and want to kill jews. Yes, I'm aware of the azov battalion of neo nazis. But that doesn't make the whole country nazis, just like Charlottesville doesn't mean all trump supporters are nazis.

        Russia claimed it was only drills in Belarus.

        Russia claimed it wouldn't invade Ukraine

        Then Russia claimed it wouldn't target civilian infrastructure

        Russia claimed it wouldn't try to take kiev

        Russia claimed it wouldn't use thermobaric weapons

        Russia claimed it was only nuclear "exercises"

        So you can see why no one trusts what putin says, especially those in the region.

        1. I would hold off on trusting anything coming from either side right now, because it's mainly just a speedrun of WW1 propaganda efforts. That whole "Ghost of Kiev" thing, for instance, is likely utter bullshit, and people have been posting pics from years ago and conflating them with current events.

          We likely won't know what happened there until long after the thing is over, or in a worst case scenario, the nukes start flying and it won't matter anyway.

          1. The "Ghost of Kiev" is confirmed bullshit. It's from a video game. The publisher has confirmed.

            1. OTOH, someone (or ones) is/are shooting down Russian planes and helos.

              I'm not overly concerned about a morale boosting canard about an outnumbered underdog resisting in the face of overwhelming odds.

  2. Fuck Joe Biden.

    1. Fuck Joe Biden

    2. Fuck Joe Biden

    3. Is this a religion or something? You say "Fuck Joe Biden" and everyone repeats like at mass.

      1. Fuck Sarcasmic.

        1. It's been many a long year...

  3. And fuck Vladimir Putin with a rusty hacksaw blade.

    1. Let's go Boris!

  4. We can't "build" anything because the entire purpose of massive spending bills is grift -- a transfer of taxpayer money to connected patrons in exchange for their loyalty to the ruling regime sold to the people under the guise of a generous public initiative purportedly for their benefit.

    We can't build anything because our government is an irreversibly corrupt kleptocracy.

    1. Perhaps that's true in your corrupt state. Here in Arizona, money from Obama's infrastructure bill was used to widen and improve I-10 and that has been a blessing to the people of my state.

    2. Don't forget:
      1. Environmental impact studies (more delays, costs and jobs for lawyers).
      2. Bribes and kickbacks for the local government leaders.
      3. Funneling contracts to higher price providers based on the bribes and kickbacks.
      4. Stipulating higher cost union labor in exchange for (legal) campaign contributions from labor union leaders.
      5. Incentivizing long schedules to keep more workers employed for longer.

  5. Give our bureaucrats a break on the infrastructure stuff - they're busy working out how to control the weather.

  6. "Why Can't We Build Anything?"

    Maybe because there's not enough cost-effective foreign-born labor?

    #OpenBordersWillFixEverything
    #CheapLaborAboveAll

    1. No, we need more funding!

  7. Forget about building. There's a war to be won. The next 20 year military project starts today. Mark my words, before this decade is out, we'll have troops in Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

    1. Or we will all be living in bomb shelters. (With masks on).

      1. Cloth gas masks, no doubt.

        1. And 6' apart.

  8. “creating a Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology Council at the Department of Transportation to "support the safe deployment of the transportation system." While that might sound like an encouraging development for those who are excited about innovations in transportation,”

    That might sound encouraging if you’re 16 years old.

    1. Finally! The flying cars we were promised.

      1. I'm not gonna lie. As an on-again-off-again NASCAR fan, the internal 16-yr.-old me was looking forward to the NTSB playing catch up to the disruptive air car technology.

      2. Flying cars have been available for several years already.
        See Terrafugia.
        There was also a personal drone (with built in GPS autopilot) shown at CES a few years ago, but it was never given regulatory approval due to safety concerns.

    2. What it sounds like is reason 3,256 to get rid of the department of transportation.

  9. A government that can't build roads and bridges because of corruption and incompetence is not a government I want in total charge of health care.

    1. For sure. I'd rather have an insurance company that is gonna bend me over backwards every month.

      You know, the one who needs a quarterly profit so will approve something (maybe) then deny it later on when it comes to reimbursement. The same company who will raise premiums every year while trying to pay out even less every year.

      Sounds AMAZING.

      1. You mean like the crony socialist system forced on people by decades of healthcare "reform"?

      2. Government can just print more money to bring down costs!

      3. We already knew that you didn't understand the situation. You didn't actually have to confirm it.

        1. Like a form of turrets, shitlunches does, in fact, have to confirm his ignorance.

          1. You're probably right. *sigh*

      4. I've had issues with insurance companies. But that experience is still a million times better than the experiences I've had with the government.

        And you think having health care be a line item in the federal budget will be a good thing? Have you paid the slightest bit of attention to how the politicians handle the budget? You think there won't be people making scads of money off that while patients suffer? You think there won't be politicians taking away payments for things they don't favor--imagine funding for abortion or transgender surgery getting cut.

      5. Profit is the most efficient way to deliver a good.

      6. Now do public education.

      7. I'd rather have an insurance company that is gonna bend me over backwards every month.

        "I used to bend over for the insurance companies when it was my choice. Now that I have to do it, it feels wrong."

        Sounds like a classic case of buyer's remorse to me.

      8. For sure. I'd rather have an insurance company that is gonna bend me over backwards every month.

        The fuck you talking about? Maybe talk to the hospitals that overcharge for their services, much like colleges do for tuition. You shitlib faggots are all about "root causes," right?

      9. You’re conflating the health care system with the financing of health care.

      10. Odd how insurance companies don't compete with each other freely for better benefits, cost and service then. Almost as if the government is stipulating some common level of service and coverage for everyone.

      11. "For sure. I'd rather have an insurance company that is gonna bend me over backwards every month."

        I'm not sure if you realize that what you have just described is Britain's NHS or Canada's Medicare. Denial or delay of care is routine in ways that Americans would simply not tolerate.

        If you were to impose a model based on either system in the US, it would become bogged down in crippling litigation within months.

  10. “Perhaps jetpacks will let us skip over the decaying bridges.”

    And require a (or several, over time) federal agency to regulate every aspect of jet pack production, purchase, and use.

    1. production, purchase, and use

      That's at least three federal agencies right there.

    2. Well, as long as they are solar powered - - - - - - - -

      1. And made in Communist China

  11. I mean, it would help to have a normal "infrastructure bank" set up that doles out money on a consistent basis. Companies could count on consistent outflows to do projects and not try to jack up the price on one-offs because they're never sure when the next one will come.

    But we'd rather kick the can continually, make one big splash (which isn't even that big considering how much outdated infra we have), then do it all over again.

    1. “infrastructure bank" set up …
      I think it’s called Congress.

    2. Government doesn't understand 'put aside'.

      See the current state of Soc. Sec.

    3. Yes, in magical fairy land where bureaucracies are set up and run to meet basic needs out of the goodness of their hearts, and not based on cronyism, nepotism, kickbacks, and punishment.

      Your government was set up as a concept to deliver fairyland. It’s obviously a case of systemic failure. Move on.org.

      1. "Marxism doesn't know how" is the eternal truism.

    4. Companies could count on consistent outflows to do projects and not try to jack up the price on one-offs because they're never sure when the next one will come.

      We have that in CA. It's called CalTrans. It doesn't work the way you think.

    5. odd how government is responsible for maintaining the infrastructure, but always needs new large infrastructure bills to repair all the crumbling infrastructure they haven't been maintaining.

  12. We can't build anything because first, each mob member has to get his cut. Then, family members have first dibs at contracts. Next their families have to get their cut. Finally, those that are involved in the work have to be affirmative action hires so no one who has any actual experience or knowledge about the project can be involved in its implementation. After that, you need more funding.

    And, the bridges keep falling and the potholes grow larger.

    The end.

    P.S. FJB!

    1. Exactly this.

    2. ^+1000

    3. They have anti-nepotism policies now. Though I'm sure it still happens.

    4. Are the Bidens a "family"?

    5. Math is racist. Tell me again how you design a bridge without using Math?

  13. Because every time anyone tries to build anything, they have to fight a half dozen lawsuits over whether they're going to be allowed to.

    1. In Boulder County, people are trying to figure out how to rebuild after the Marshall Fire roasted all those homes in December. A big part of the problem is that 1) codes have changed dramatically since the mid-late 90s when a lot of those homes were built; and 2) that area is now chock-full of techie proglydytes who are demanding the rebuilds have mandatory solar panels and electric car charging stations installed.

      PS--If anyone wants to live in a bougie shitlib haven in the Denver metro area, you can get a now-empty lot in the burn areas for about $350K if you don't mind spending another $750K to get a house built. Or, just put up a Tuff Shed with a shit bucket and call it the next big thing in "green" living.

      1. I find it interesting how many nice homes would be totally illegal to build today.

        1. Want to know why most of those homes burned to the ground in the first place?

          About 25 years ago, when developers were building Rock Creek and the other subdivisions in Superior, Boulder County bought up a bunch of open space lands directly west of the development area for the express purpose of hemming them in and preventing further expansion, save for areas along the north-south corridor of the Turnpike. Last spring, the Front Range got a shit-ton of rain, something that doesn't happen often, but when it does the skies don't clear for weeks.

          This resulted in massive grass growth in the open space area by the subdivisions. The Front Range then went through a dry spell through mid-December that turned the grassfield to crisp toast. Boulder County Parks and Open Space never bothered cutting the grass, so when hurricane-force winds came in that presaged the first real snowstorm of the season, and the spark got lit that started the fire, the location found itself with a shitload of fuel for the fire and the means to spread it faster than it could be controlled.

          Basically, Boulder County's left-wing managers failed to take care of their property, and the cities are now fucking a lot of the former homeowners who want to rebuild by mandating all this "green" bullshit during a period where inflation has gone through the roof and insurance payouts may not be enough to cover the rebuild.

          1. That's not far from where I used to live in Table Mesa. Wow. Small world.

          2. Seen this happen in NM years back, living in Ruidoso.

            Lost two water reservoirs, some homes and countless acres of forest because thinning projects expressly intended to block catastophic burns above water sources and the town were consistently stalled by Wild Earth Guardians, who demanded to preserve the natural state of the forest. So, it all burned and the ash and deer shit washed into the rivers and reservoirs, killed all the fish and cost millions to detoxify for human use again.

            Leftists are cultists.

      2. The ripple effect of that fire is fairly evident right now. Kid works in that area, and about half the time drives through the area burned. They are trying to buy their first house, and the entire NW corridor, esp along US 36, has just gone bonkers (not that it was very good before). Houses are routinely selling almost $100k above listing price on the day listed. Insane.

        1. It's been that way for about seven years now. Colorado's leaders encouraged massive population growth along the Front Range during a period where there was a lull in housing development, particularly multi-unit structures due to a regulation that increased developer liability for those types of homes. Starting about 2016, that growth started overwhelming the housing inventory and sent prices soaring, and then the pandemic enacted a perfect storm where people that reduced inventories even further through a combination of older homeowners not downsizing due to uncertainty over housing availability, and Denverites moving to the mountain towns and hoovering up the limited housing stock in places where people are VERY averse to large-scale housing developments, combined with lot of housing stock being owned by second-home owners who use it as a vacation pad, not a permanent residence.

          Granted, inflation in housing is going up everywhere, but Colorado and the Front Range's problems are due to very specific failures on the part of its business and political leaders to effectively plan for the future. Did I mention that the state has effectively been run by Democrats for a decade and a half now?

          Even a crumbling shitbox in gang-ridden, er, "vibrantly diverse" northwest Aurora is going to run you about $300-350K.

          1. Basically, the house we bought out on the eastern high plains near Aurora back in 2015 for less than $200K is worth about double that now.

  14. In Boston, the public transportation loons demanded and got a new trolly line. When the budget blew up on them, it turned out that it included money for bicycle lanes and gold-plated stations. During the planning stage, they just let every nimrod add his/her own wish list item. Oh yeah, that's while the rapid transit trains were breaking down in the tunnels every other day. That's government for you.

    1. I drove through the "Big Dig" about a half hour before a chunk of the roof came down and killed someone. Didn't find out about it until I got to the airport, flew home across the continent, and turned on the TV. Holy cripes!

      1. Meanwhile, Hoover Dam will probably still be standing long after the country finally collapses.

        1. Because Hoover knew what he was doing. Just look at those vacuum cleaners. And the FBI.

          1. OK, that was good. (is there an applause emoji? if so, it applies)

          2. Hoover definitely excelled at sucking. Just ask his assistant!

        2. Lots of things (corrupt bribed inspectors, union thuggery, local political graft etc) contributed to overruns on the "Big Dig" unfortunately things like that tunnel lining failure have to just be attributed to "shit happens". Thousands and thousands of square feet of tunnel lining are still completely functional, but this single failure condemns the entire project.

  15. Term limits, repeal of the tax code amendment (16) and a flat or fair tax and a balanced budget amendment and bidding process open to everyone would be a good start to getting this under control.

  16. What is this 'We'?

    Given the funds, the manpower and the expertise 'We' could get a shitload done. Add layers of corruption and bureaucracy and 'They' forget what it is they set out to do in the first place.

    Bridges fall, roads crumble, tunnels fall on people's cars in a 14 billion dollar cost overun project (we're looking at you Boston).

    'We' just get to pay more and watch the waste.

    1. Add layers of corruption and bureaucracy and 'They' forget what it is they set out to do in the first place.

      Assuming they didn't just accidentally take the money and walk away without doing any work, I wouldn't say they missed what you set out to do.

      1. A City in Illinois needed a fence built. It was decided to put it out for bid. When the bid was put out it got three replies. Contractors from Ohio, Kentucky and Chicago requested to bid on the project. The City rep handling the bids invited all of them to come and look at the specifications and place a bid. The guy from Ohio comes in, looks at the specs, crunches some numbers and places a bid for $1 million dollars. The guy from Kentucky comes in, does the same and places a bid for $3 million dollars. The guy from Chicago comes in, doesn't looks at the specs and places a bid for $5 million dollars. The guy from the City asks "How did you come up with your bid? You didn't even look at the specs." The guy from Chicago says "Easy. Two million for you, two million for me and we hire the guy from Ohio."

  17. Government doesn't build anything. It destroys. The closest it comes to building stuff is confiscating wealth from productive people and paying some crony to do a shitty job.

    1. The real reason bridges collapse.

  18. "We" can build damn near anything.
    Government can't build an outhouse.
    (and if they did, it would be right next to the river)

    1. Why bother when you can have designated shitting streets sloping towards the ocean?

  19. Infrastructure is broadly considered one of the least controversial functions of government

    , because broads consider daycare to be infrastructure?

  20. Ann Arbor just finished putting in more fancy bike lanes. Which you need after the massive potholes into Ann Arbor blow out your car's tires. Washtenaw county's road management is abominable.

    1. And it snows in Ann Arbor, so yea, bikes.

      1. Interestingly enough, there are many accounts of arctic travelers taking a bicycle ride on a river with fat snow tires.

        They do not discuss how many times they fell down.

        1. Or fell in?

    2. I've lived across the US from west to east coast but never saw potholes like the ones in Chicago. The scariest one was about 4ft deep and 5ft wide on a highway! It wasn't even marked off. There were roads on the southside that were all but impassable or down to a single lane because of large potholes. One pothole had been around for so long that people used it as a de facto garbage dump so it had some busted appliances sticking out of it.

    3. Potholes usually start at the edges of the road, so it's impossible to bike at any speed above a slow walk long before the decay becomes a problem for cars. But here in Grand Rapids, if the bike path from the Mayor's house to city hall is good (and his limousine doesn't get shaken too much on the 200+ work days a year the weather is too bad for a wimp to bike), all the transportation problems are solved!

  21. Why can't we build things? Maybe because an entire political party, and most of the self-anointed elites that dominate academia and media, reject the very concept of building--at least the actual, physical building of things. Sure, they are deeply concerned and engaged, but on the level of policy and politics. How many Serious People can talk your ears off about the sociology and environmental concerns of some highway or bridge, including the diversity of the huge bureaucracy required, but have no clue (or desire) about the physical design and execution?

    1. It's so quaint that you think it's only one party.

      1. Likewise that you think the parties share the same delusions about life, especially about where physical goods come from and the nature of real work.

      2. The last time Colorado had a major highway project completed on time and within budget was the T-REX revamp of I-25 in the late 90s, which included a lightrail that's barely used even during traditional "rush hours," except over the last mile or so when people climb on at the Broadway and Osage stations.

        That was executed by the one Republican governor the state has had in the last 40 years, during a period when both houses were controlled by Republicans.

        The state's mostly been blue since the 2006 midterms, and now they shockingly can't fix shit in the state, and are incredibly hostile to development all while encouraging mass population growth. The Denver area's a shithole now, and all the techlib rats are scurrying to the mountains now and shitting those places up, too.

        1. I was considering moving to Colorado for the land, then I met the people and watched their electoral significance vanish from self-inflicted stupid.

          1. It's not even worth moving out to the Western Slope, IMO, because it's either being colonized by Denverites or the towns are getting fucked by "green" policies pimped by suburban shitlibs.

            Anyone who isn't some tech goon, drug addict, or masochist should stay far away from that state, because it's effectively California's little brother and none of the morons running the state now are going to learn from their fuckups.

        2. Man, the difference in the roads could not be more stark between UT and CO. Taking a tractor trailer from Las Vegas to Points East via 70 is an *incredible* experience... until you get to the CO border. At which point it becomes a differently incredible experience mostly because you're afraid you're going to die.

          1. Man, if I ever win Powerball, I'm looking to buy land near Cedar City or Parowan, and hope the state remains an LDS theocracy that overrides the California migrants and malcontents in SLC.

  22. California Bullet Train. Otherwise known as the train from somewhere south of Fresno to somewhere north of Fresno. Someday, years from now, we will be able to take a train from Hanford to Madera. Whooo!

    Just looking at the route tells you all you need to know. Why the hell is a train whose purpose is to bullet from Los Angeles to San Francisco routed through Fresno? Why was the construction started in Fresno?

    Because the point is to spend money by giving it to unions, while making sure it runs through every congressman's district. And of course keep it visible by having it high in the sky where you can see it from dozens of miles away.

    The sensible route would have been up the I-5 corridor where land is cheap and one doesn't need to eminent domain a huge swath through the center of a major city to bulldoze. But saving on expenses wasn't the goal, getting from point A to point B wasn't the goal. Padding pockets was.

    Fuck Newsom.

    1. And fuck the judge who decided to ignore the cost limit approved by voters.

      1. And fuck the judge who decided to ignore the cost limit approved by voters.

        ^

        And the authority who changed the award rules after bid submission so the contract could go to Diane Feinstein's husband, RIP.

    2. And they decided to start with the least traveled segment, thinking people would push to have the parts they wanted built later.

  23. Hey, the government has built the new SLS. It is one heck of a big rocket.

  24. we're still believing the infrastructure lies? the Sopranos has been off the air since 2007

  25. It's corruption. After studying Operation Car Wash in Brazil it has become apparent to me that the same thing must be happening in the US. Not just with infrastructure but military spending, health spending, oil and gas and much more. One of these days the press is going to figure it out and it will blow up like crazy. There is sooo much funny money flowing through the system I have no doubt billions are being regularly siphoned off. And with a two-part system in place dominated by billionaire funders the ground is set for massive corruption on both sides.

  26. Infrastructure is broadly considered one of the least controversial functions of government, just as budgeting is one of the most basic functions of Congress. The messy fate of Biden's long-awaited bipartisan bill is a reminder that the federal government is so far from getting even these fundamentals right that it certainly shouldn't be trusted with higher-order functions,

    First off, it wasn't a bipartisan bill. Repeatedly saying it doesn't make it so.

    Secondly, this whole subject goes back to a theory I've developed over the last few years: Competence is now considered right wing.

    1. You joke about competence, but CRT pretty much teaches exactly that.

      1. It does, but CRT is part of a larger project on the left that's been going for some time. It's just pressed itself into the mainstream with CRT.

    2. C'mon man, it's Democrats. If one drop makes you black, surely one vote makes it bipartisan.

  27. In the 1st Century BC, the Roman army built a bridge across the Rhine River in 10 days to invade Germany. In 21st Century California, it is taking 2+ years for the state to build an overpass over a set of train tracks where I live.

    Or put another way, 100 years the local college built an 80,000 seat stadium for around 500,000 dollars in just 5 months. A modern NFL stadium takes 5 years and costs generally 1 to 2 billion dollars now.

    1. 500K in today's dollars would be only around 8 million bucks. You could barely build a restroom for that now.

    2. To be fair, three of those five years is shopping around for the biggest tax subsidy.

  28. Always thought LA or San Francisco would look like Tokyo by 2022.

  29. There is a small economically strapped town near where I live. The bridge connecting the west side of town to the rest was condemned. People had to drive 20 miles or more just to get to the other side for almost two years until a new bridge was opened. And it was just a bridge about 100 feet long crossing a creek.

  30. There was an infrastructure bill that focused on building actual infrastructure but it had to be "improved" because it would have given too much money to men especially white men. Turns out women don't really do construction jobs so there were complaints about the bill being sexist. Even adding all the "soft infrastructure" stuff wasn't enough to end these diversity complaints. Google: Buttigieg rebuffs infrastructure law being a 'White guy employment act'

  31. The reason is THEFT and CORRUPTION. We pay enormous amounts of taxes already plus for profit utility bills for infrastructure already yet they cannot keep up to the point we need TRILLIONS more spent. Just like a socialist business that no longer has to worry about the risk, local government, utilities know the feds will bail them out when necessary.

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