DECAMERON: LET THE BUILDING BEGIN — IN THE USA

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Bloomberg news: "Trump promised during his campaign to introduce a $1 trillion proposal within his first 100 days in office, then the administration said there’d be a plan by the third quarter. That didn’t happen…"

"The president aims to release a detailed document of principles, rather than a drafted bill, for upgrading roads, bridges, airports and other public works before the Jan. 30 State of the Union address, said the administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the details aren’t public. Naysayers should wait until they see the details and how the legislative process unfolds, the official said."

"The White House plan is essentially complete and Trump recently reviewed it, the official said. It calls for allocating at least $200 billion in federal funds over 10 years to spur at least $800 billion in spending by states, localities and the private sector."

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-07/trump-is-said-to-ready-infrastructure-plan-for-january-release

The Hill reported, Dec. 5 from the Bipartisan Policy Center's Gov. Ed Rendell: 

"One of the impediments that has to be changed is how we score under our budget act. The European Union has its own infrastructure bank where loans and loan guarantees are doled out to important projects. They charge a very modest interest rate, and they make a small profit. If we were to construct such an infrastructure bank, under current rules, those loans and loan guarantees would be scored as spending even though there would be a track record showing that the overall program never spends money but actually makes a small profit. In some ways, I feel like a lone voice in the wilderness (although I was happy to hear that the “Problem Solvers” congressional caucus may also recommend a federal capital budget), but it’s the only real solution."

"For those who say, “let the states do it,” know that the states are trying. Twenty-five states, both red and blue, have increased their gas tax in the last three years. The states simply do not have enough money to do it alone. For those who say, “let the private sector do it,” they forget that the private sector must have a reasonable rate of return before it invests in anything, and most infrastructure projects cannot give them one. For example, there are 60,000 structurally deficient bridges in America. No more than 100 of them have enough traffic that could generate toll revenues enough to supply that return. This leaves 59,900 that need repair that must be done with government investment."

https://bipartisanpolicy.org/article/ed-rendell-this-is-the-only-solution-to-fixing-americas-crumbling-infrastructure/

When POTUS Trump made his Jerusalem announcement, he boasted that other presidents "promised." but POTUS Trump "delivers".  Why did Jerusalem come before infrastructure?  America First?  BHO promised infrastructure in 2008.  Congress allocated nearly $1 trillion in "stimulus"  in 2009.   Potholes were fixed; bridges weren't rebuilt. No infrastructure.  Deja vu? — Decameron

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30 Responses to DECAMERON: LET THE BUILDING BEGIN — IN THE USA

  1. Ante says:

    To invest wisely in infrastructure, rather than building out and attempting the exponential maintenance of sprawl, a massive change in living patterns is necessary. Denser cities, emptier countryside. How do you do that, I have no idea.

  2. Imagine says:

    Infrastructure spending is critical for the success of the economy to transfer printed money from the Treasury/Federal Government into the hands of private citizens. This should increase the velocity of money and lead to a more healthy economy.
    Bucky Fuller contrasted “weaponry” against “livingry”. Currently America is addicted to guns not butter, and results show. When a large portion of the economy is devoted to putting jobs on the table by producing weapons, no Senator can vote for peace. If weaponry production is dialed back, and livingry production is dialed up, this will be healthy not only for America but the world.

  3. A.Pols says:

    My God, when I think of all I could accomplish if only I had access to counterfeit money…

  4. walrus says:

    it won’t happen unless the big banks can make a buck out of it. End of story.

  5. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Across the rivers, in New York City, there has been built many high rises over the last 20 years. Higher density is not an issue, IMNSHO, the roads and bridges and terminals are just awful. Spain’s arebetter.

  6. rst says:

    Interesting idea. In his 60 Minutes interview, Trump campaign digital media director Brad Parscale said that nothing scored as high with potential voters as promises to improve infrastructure – he thought that (and an astute use of Facebook) was why Trump won the election. The press keeps accusing Trump of appealing to “his base” – let’s hope such voters are included in it.

  7. blue peacock says:

    Travel in Asia – Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and China. Compare their infrastructure to ours. Ours seems very third worldish.
    Both our political parties, our Congress, and several POTUSes have no problem in coming up with trillions of dollars to blow up shit around the world but there’s no will to upgrade our infrastructure and productive capacity to even the same level as our major economic competitors in Asia.
    A simple metric is Fixed Asset Investment as a percent of GDP. Compare US vs China or South Korea for example. It tells the story.

  8. Fred says:

    Decameron,
    You mean after eight years and a few trillion in spending the States and their subordinate governmental structures haven’t fixed all the roads in the Republic? I’m shocked that the solution from the Clinton supporting former head of the DNC is more centralization. How did his successors in PA manage to let all the infrastructure he so adroitly maintained fall into disrepair so quickly and fail to get support from the Obama administration during those years? I wonder what these guys here were doing all that time: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov
    Would that bill Trump just got passed that’s going to eliminate deductabiliy of state taxes from federal taxes have anything to do with this tired old cost shifting suggestion?

  9. Fred says:

    JohnA,
    How many decades did it take to build? What kind of tax burden was required to build it? What is the tax burden to to maintain it? What did they sacrifice building over all those years so they could have nice railroads?

  10. Anna says:

    “…trillions of dollars to blow up shit around the world …” has included a nice allotment for various middlemen, while entailing zero responsibility for the “final product.” In comparison, to construct bridges and roads for the general public requires a real final product, which promises no sizeable gesheft for a chain of greedy contractors incluned to “patriotic” bloviating — like the despicable idiot and opportunist Michael Hayden: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trailblazer_Project
    “Trailblazer would be the NSA’s biggest project. Hayden’s philosophy was to let private industry do the job. Enormous deals were signed with defense contractors. Binney’s “Thin Thread “program cost $3 million; Trailblazer would run more than $1 billion and take years to develop.” https://www.emptywheel.net/2011/05/22/thomas-drake-complained-about-michael-hayden-spending-1b-to-do-what-3m-could-do/
    DRAKE: “Well, my first day on the job was 9/11. And it was shortly after 9/11 that I was exposed to the Pandora’s box of illegality and government wrongdoing on a very significant scale. So, you had the twin fraud, waste—you know, the twin specters of fraud, waste and abuse being committed on a vast scale through a program called Trailblazer, a multi-billion-dollar program, when in fact there was alternatives that already existed and fulfilled most all the requirements of Trailblazer, even prior to 9/11.” https://www.democracynow.org/2012/3/21/in_unprecedented_obama_admin_crackdown_nsa

  11. Hood Canal Gardner says:

    Indeed..way way (way!) overdue. And the gutters have been overflowing for the past 30 years. Silly assed nonsense. If you’ve never driven on pot-holed roads, sat in moldy school rooms, been routed around because of bridge downs..pay serious attention. Screw you.
    Halve the defense budget across the next 2 -3 years. Tax the global US corps for sea and air defense. For every job ‘lost’ replace it with an infrastructure job.
    [And this is way past needing to be said: Clowns and vaudevillians do stupid things and we laugh.That’s their job. Read Al Franken. And all major dep’t stores, from Globus in Geneve to Nordstrom’s in Seattle sell female war paint and attracting scents the absolute minute you cross the front door threshold.]

  12. Imagine says:

    Japan sacrificed building a huge army and supporting bases all over the globe. Instead, it counted on the United States to protect it; built a modest SDF for actual Self Defense not offense; and set about building its economy based on integrity, cooperation, and the highest quality possible. “Cooperation is exponentially more profitable than competition”, due correctly to compounded multiplicative rates of return. Americans are still running game theory with additive returns, so America doesn’t mind knocking over the board and screwing everybody. The politicians have a two-month memory, and believe the rest of the world is the same. This comes round to bite the US in the butt, but since Americans are genetically eternally optimistic, and can’t see causal chains, it doesn’t slow us down.
    Japan spends roughly $45B, or 1% of GDP, on defense. Germany trails it with roughly $40B, 1.2% of GDP. America: $611B @ 3.3%, and I don’t think that includes the black budgets, nor arms sales. If America were spending Germany’s 1.2% that would be $222B, it would still be more than huge China ($215B) or huge Russia ($69B). Just imagine what this country would be like if we dedicated an extra $400B to truly making America great again, instead of running guns and funding Al Qaeda.
    Consequently America acts effectively with a special form of socialism towards arms manufacturers. These then lobby and pay off the lawmakers. When the PTA can write multi-million-dollar PAC checks, maybe we’ll see emphasis being put on schools and the next generation. Until then, we get the country we deserve, because we let it happen.

  13. Ante says:

    Thanks, Lemur
    I’m aware of the rat studies. I don’t tend to mention population growth views because they turn discussions into a mess. People need space, my point is that with no plans to limit growth of population, density is necessary to maintain civic infrastructure. Without limiting population, it becomes a real catch 22.
    The state of water systems across the country is atrocious, Flint was only the first.

  14. confusedponderer says:

    blue peacock,
    re Travel in Asia – Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan and China. Compare their infrastructure to ours. Ours seems very third worldish.
    I haven’t beeen there, but, as far it has ever taken me abroad, I have seen Yucatan, and that was outside the cities ‘a different world’.
    But then: In the army I was drafted and served that year as a ‘Funker’ (communication service – and that’s a family thing apparently, since all my uncles were also ‘Funkers’), being first trained in setting up and repairing phone nets everywhere, in the woods, houses barracks or wherever else.
    After that year I visited a friend in Edinburgh, Scotland and, after the experience I made in the army, I was disturbed that I had seen better and more orderly built phone cables and switch stuff in the woods with the crap you could carry around. Likely, it would have been possible ‘to hack’ into the lines with a portable field phone and a swiss knife. “How sloppy!“, I thought.
    Amusingly, in the 1990s when I served we had a drag car for big cable drums (50kg or so things, 400m heavy duty cables, called ‘looooong range cables’), and according to a stamp that drag car in my company was built in … 1936. Apparently there are things that never outdate. Think of the ‘Jerrycan’. It seems that the Wehrmacht also built well made, and timeless, cable drums.
    What I’m getting at is this: ‘Cities of a different world’ you also have in developed places like Europe. That written, of course it could be much worse.

  15. steve says:

    The stimulus was set up so that about 1/3 was a tax cut (out of about $800 billion in total). Most of the rest went to states as grants so that the states could use it as they wanted. In PA that money went to, roughly in order, Medicaid, unemployment, education and transportation infrastructure. In PA, they made public what they were using the money to fix. My sense is that we are so far behind that a one time fix was not going to be adequate and we need a better ongoing process.
    https://whyy.org/articles/pa-transportation-officials-release-list-of-stimulus-funded-projects/
    Steve

  16. Anna says:

    The much more reliable Thin Thread program was developed under honorable William Binney and cost $3 million (versus over $4 billon final price for Trailblazer, the Hayden’ baby).
    William Binney “served in the NSA for over 30 years, including a time as director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group.” https://www.democracynow.org/2012/4/20/exclusive_national_security_agency_whistleblower_william
    For his honorable defense of patria, which did not fit Hayden’s “understanding” of loyalty to the US, William Binney was harassed by the FBI:
    WILLIAM BINNEY: They came busting in.
    AMY GOODMAN: Who’s “they”?
    WILLIAM BINNEY: The FBI. About 12 of them, I think, 10 to 12. They came in with the guns drawn, on my house.
    AMY GOODMAN: Where were you?
    WILLIAM BINNEY: I was in the shower. I was taking a shower, so my son answered the door. And they of course pushed him out of the way at gunpoint and came running upstairs and found me in the shower, and came in and pointed the gun at me while I was, you know—
    AMY GOODMAN: Pointed a gun at your head?
    WILLIAM BINNEY: Oh, yeah. Yes. Wanted to make sure I saw it and that I was duly intimidated, I guess. … We were the ones who filed that complaint.
    MY GOODMAN: —inspector general complaint.
    WILLIAM BINNEY: Against NSA, yes, talking about fraud—basically corruption, fraud, waste and abuse.”
    The fearless William Binney was involved in deconstruction of the fraudulent analysis of DNC “hacking” by CrowdStrike. “US Intel Vets Dispute Russia Hacking Claims:” https://consortiumnews.com/2016/12/12/us-intel-vets-dispute-russia-hacking-claims/
    Why Dmitri Alperovitch (of Ukrainian/Jewish descent) has not been arrested for his treasonous activities already is stunning.
    Note the amazing shyness of FBI re the DNC computers, considering that cyberattacks are federal crimes! “…the FBI neglected to perform any independent forensics on the original material… — …the “hand-picked analysts” from the FBI, CIA, and NSA, who wrote the “Intelligence Community Assessment” dated January 6, 2017” gave no attention to forensics.
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-25/evidence-russia-hacked-dnc-collapsing.

  17. ISL says:

    Decameron,
    True, very true. Will not hold breath – this is just the way empires decline- we had a 75 year run, not bad!
    The US is more than willing to build roads and infrastructure in places like Afghanistan, just not locally since that has not impact on the decision makers (aka the donors to the politico’s).
    There was a study showing that what the public wants has no statistical effect on legislation, what the 1% wants does.
    So why waste funds fixing airports for the plebs when you have your own lear jet. I have on occasion flown from the other side of the airport and its a different world – there are cookies in the waiting lounges and you are greeted with a friendly smile. Today I was informed by United that the business lounge was not for me even though I fly business class, because it was domestic.
    Why waste funds on an electric grid that doesnt have rolling black out (like a developing country) when anyone who is anyone has their own backup generator?
    And why fix roads in flyover country when the real money is from finance? So what if it impacts the overall economy, just as long as the Fed keeps the 0% arbitrage going, and those who count can keep the dough rolling in.
    I didn’t support The Donald because I thought he and his cabinet care – and they have shown no indication they do, but who in DC power does? I supported The Donald to wind back our letting spilling blood and gold in the deserts of the Arc of Instability. So far the trend is good and that is all I can ask for. Was also hoping the dems would grow a spine, but that seems beyond them.
    Meanwhile China plans to invest 10 trillion in BRI infrastructure over the next decade. Given their cost advantage, thats equal to what? twenty trillion? Once the US Robber Barons were Titans of Industry. Now they are Titan”s of creative finance.

  18. JohnA says:

    All good and relevant questions, Fred. I suppose if you looked into it enough you could find complete shelved project plans in various computers or, as the expression goes, ‘gathering dust on the shelf’ in places like Mass and Ca. Somewhere I read that projects of which Americans are most proud are led by the Hoover Dam and I believe, Eisenhower’s interstate highway system. What has the govt accomplished lately with your money? Failed regime changes Jack Ma tags at $14 Trillion.

  19. Bill H says:

    Regarding Obama’s 2009 “stimulus” on “shovel ready” projects in California: signs saying that a project was being funded by the stimulus promptly appeared on projects which had been underway for months, even years before the stimulus bill passed. To the best of my knowledge, none ever appeared on a project that was begun after the bill passed, other than the “high speed train,” which finally broke ground in 2016.

  20. blue peacock says:

    Bill H
    Yeah, the high speed rail vanity project of the Democrats and Gov. Jerry Brown. This is a classic example of the infrastructure projects that gets funded – only complete boondoggles!
    In the mean time the core infrastructure in California looks more like Argentina. But, for the second time in couple decades California raises gas taxes by another 25 cents/gallon to ostensibly fund infrastructure that they failed to do the last time they raised gas taxes to do the same. Of course all these additional taxes go into the general fund so that the Democrats can consume it all right in their government bureaucracy.

  21. Cameron says:

    Maybe public banking is the answer. It’s worked pretty well for North Dakota.

  22. dilbert dogbert says:

    Yes! Brown is trying to bring this socialist disaster to California!!!
    *
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-speed_rail_in_Europe
    *
    SAD!

  23. Fred says:

    JohnA,
    You failed to answer my question about the tax burden to support rail systems in Europe or what was not built in Europe because they spent their tax money on railroads.

  24. Jack says:

    California ain’t Europe. What do you think the density of population and urbanization is between Stockton and Bakersfield? I can assure you it ain’t what it’s like between Paris and Brussels. I agree with blue peacock that this is a giant boondoggle, Brown’s vanity project that will cost at least 3x to 4x what is projected and will be a massive failure in terms of ridership and return on investment.
    California would have been much better off if they spent that money instead on improved mass transit in Los Angeles and Orange counties where there is population density. But that ain’t sexy for the liberal elite who would never ditch their Gulfstreams in any case.

  25. Fred says:

    Imagine,
    What is the immigration rate in Japan?
    “When the PTA can write multi-million-dollar PAC checks….”
    It takes mere seconds to find out how many millions of dollars teachers’ unions have donated to politicians and which party affiliation they have:
    https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=d000000064
    “…we’ll see emphasis being put on schools and the next generation…” Have you seen the news about college campuses denying free speech? That’s a direct assault on a founding principle of the Republic.
    “we get the country we deserve, because we let it happen”
    You sure did. That’s how America got Trump.

  26. Bill H says:

    While yet another of our endless and countless “public initiatives” is underway to repeal the new gas tax, not because the roads don’t need fixing but to punish the legislature for misspending the funds from the last gas tax. And no fewer than two such initiatives are on the next ballot for what put in place of the Chargers stadium in Mission Valley. If voters are in favor of both, the one with the most votes win, but neither has more than 30% favorability in the polls. God help us all.

  27. Decameron says:

    The funds for infrastructure investment cannot come from an operating budget, neither state or federal, IMO.  President George Washington and his Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton used a National Bank to build the
    nation's infrastructure through directed credits. Private investors were able to purchase both bonds and stocks in the first and second National Banks and this was essential to the early republic. Reading Hamilton's three seminal documents, Report on Manufacturing,
    Report on Public Credit, and Report on the National Bank, is enlightening.  

  28. Hood Canal Gardner says:

    Ok, where to start?
    Replacing/upgrading urban/rural leaking sewage lines; potable water treatment facilities; replacing lead water piping? Or upgrading-constructing river/ocean water levees to 500 yr “Dutch” standards? Resuscitating New Deal WPA soil, water, mineral conservation projects on public and private lands.
    Or just maybe, assuming there is some morality left among the pointy heads here (me as well!), there is the “small” matter of rebuilding the Middle East devastation we have our fingerprints and blood all over/and clearing the ordinance ‘we’ve left/are leaving behind.’
    For the defense/military addicted…for this old grunt who put in his time there isn’t enough tax money/plunder to put in place/maintain a national defense that comes close to equaling or Trumping the national defense afforded by the two oceans that flank our coasts. Ie, serious money is available for work that is waiting here at home.

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