How America Is Becoming A Third World Country

The secret: not investing in or even adequately maintaining our infrastructure and when we do invest, we invest in the wrong stuff. 

A survey came out earlier this week that is pretty scarifying:

According to Norman F. Anderson, president and CEO of CG/LA Infrastructure, the survey paints a dark picture for U.S. infrastructure. “We have conducted this survey around the world, and the overall results for the U.S. are some of the lowest scores that we have seen. U.S. scores are on par with Peru, in terms of the country’s ability to develop infrastructure projects, and well below those of Brazil, India, China, and other countries with which we compete for scarce infrastructure dollars and expertise. Particularly in the wake of President Obama’s jobs plan and call for an infrastructure bank, the survey reveals the need for urgent action and a clear infrastructure strategy for the US.”

Anderson wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post that illustrated some of what's wrong with our current approach to infrastructure projects:

The problem is that today in our country it takes an average of 10 years to go from concept to the point at which heavy equipment gets its “notice to proceed.” The Netherlands, not an environmental bandit, faced a similar problem a decade ago, took action and reduced that period to three years. The current process is not deliberate and systematic; it is ponderous, inefficient and deeply dysfunctional.

The 3rd Annual North American Strategic Infrastructure Leadership Forum just wrapped up and brought some much-needed attention to these issues. Tim Kaine, Mark Warner and Bob Menendez all spoke at the confab which emphasized Anderson's suggestion that new projects focus on jobs:

This is an emergency, so focus on the one statistic that matters, creating jobs. An infrastructure project lasts for 30 to 40 years, so when selecting projects we should score three kinds of job yields:direct jobs, those workers directly employed by the project; indirect jobs, those involved in creating the materials for the work, such as manufacturing steel; and induced jobs, those that the project will eventually produce (such as when a D.C. Metro stop sparks new development nearby or a port project brings new commerce). Infrastructure projects need to be scored — and are scored in other countries — on both jobs created initially, and all the jobs created (and the quality of those jobs) over the lifetime of a project.

A focus on job yield will help the nation prioritize those infrastructure sectors that are most productive in job creation, channeling marginally more resources in that direction. Think about it — project investment would have less to do with congressional districts and political favors and more to do with systematically building our future. Here you could easily argue that the Silver Line extension to Dulles Airport would be a better investment than adding a lane to a parallel highway.

 

 

There's more...

How America Is Becoming A Third World Country

The secret: not investing in or even adequately maintaining our infrastructure and when we do invest, we invest in the wrong stuff. 

A survey came out earlier this week that is pretty scarifying:

According to Norman F. Anderson, president and CEO of CG/LA Infrastructure, the survey paints a dark picture for U.S. infrastructure. “We have conducted this survey around the world, and the overall results for the U.S. are some of the lowest scores that we have seen. U.S. scores are on par with Peru, in terms of the country’s ability to develop infrastructure projects, and well below those of Brazil, India, China, and other countries with which we compete for scarce infrastructure dollars and expertise. Particularly in the wake of President Obama’s jobs plan and call for an infrastructure bank, the survey reveals the need for urgent action and a clear infrastructure strategy for the US.”

Anderson wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post that illustrated some of what's wrong with our current approach to infrastructure projects:

The problem is that today in our country it takes an average of 10 years to go from concept to the point at which heavy equipment gets its “notice to proceed.” The Netherlands, not an environmental bandit, faced a similar problem a decade ago, took action and reduced that period to three years. The current process is not deliberate and systematic; it is ponderous, inefficient and deeply dysfunctional.

The 3rd Annual North American Strategic Infrastructure Leadership Forum just wrapped up and brought some much-needed attention to these issues. Tim Kaine, Mark Warner and Bob Menendez all spoke at the confab which emphasized Anderson's suggestion that new projects focus on jobs:

This is an emergency, so focus on the one statistic that matters, creating jobs. An infrastructure project lasts for 30 to 40 years, so when selecting projects we should score three kinds of job yields:direct jobs, those workers directly employed by the project; indirect jobs, those involved in creating the materials for the work, such as manufacturing steel; and induced jobs, those that the project will eventually produce (such as when a D.C. Metro stop sparks new development nearby or a port project brings new commerce). Infrastructure projects need to be scored — and are scored in other countries — on both jobs created initially, and all the jobs created (and the quality of those jobs) over the lifetime of a project.

A focus on job yield will help the nation prioritize those infrastructure sectors that are most productive in job creation, channeling marginally more resources in that direction. Think about it — project investment would have less to do with congressional districts and political favors and more to do with systematically building our future. Here you could easily argue that the Silver Line extension to Dulles Airport would be a better investment than adding a lane to a parallel highway.

 

 

There's more...

How America Is Becoming A Third World Country

The secret: not investing in or even adequately maintaining our infrastructure and when we do invest, we invest in the wrong stuff. 

A survey came out earlier this week that is pretty scarifying:

According to Norman F. Anderson, president and CEO of CG/LA Infrastructure, the survey paints a dark picture for U.S. infrastructure. “We have conducted this survey around the world, and the overall results for the U.S. are some of the lowest scores that we have seen. U.S. scores are on par with Peru, in terms of the country’s ability to develop infrastructure projects, and well below those of Brazil, India, China, and other countries with which we compete for scarce infrastructure dollars and expertise. Particularly in the wake of President Obama’s jobs plan and call for an infrastructure bank, the survey reveals the need for urgent action and a clear infrastructure strategy for the US.”

Anderson wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post that illustrated some of what's wrong with our current approach to infrastructure projects:

The problem is that today in our country it takes an average of 10 years to go from concept to the point at which heavy equipment gets its “notice to proceed.” The Netherlands, not an environmental bandit, faced a similar problem a decade ago, took action and reduced that period to three years. The current process is not deliberate and systematic; it is ponderous, inefficient and deeply dysfunctional.

The 3rd Annual North American Strategic Infrastructure Leadership Forum just wrapped up and brought some much-needed attention to these issues. Tim Kaine, Mark Warner and Bob Menendez all spoke at the confab which emphasized Anderson's suggestion that new projects focus on jobs:

This is an emergency, so focus on the one statistic that matters, creating jobs. An infrastructure project lasts for 30 to 40 years, so when selecting projects we should score three kinds of job yields:direct jobs, those workers directly employed by the project; indirect jobs, those involved in creating the materials for the work, such as manufacturing steel; and induced jobs, those that the project will eventually produce (such as when a D.C. Metro stop sparks new development nearby or a port project brings new commerce). Infrastructure projects need to be scored — and are scored in other countries — on both jobs created initially, and all the jobs created (and the quality of those jobs) over the lifetime of a project.

A focus on job yield will help the nation prioritize those infrastructure sectors that are most productive in job creation, channeling marginally more resources in that direction. Think about it — project investment would have less to do with congressional districts and political favors and more to do with systematically building our future. Here you could easily argue that the Silver Line extension to Dulles Airport would be a better investment than adding a lane to a parallel highway.

 

 

There's more...

Eye on 2012: Kaine and LeMieux Announce Senate Runs

Two announcements today. Former Virginia Governor and current Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine announced that he is running for the Virginia Senate seat currently held by Senator Jim Webb who is retiring after just one term in office. Kaine will resign as DNC chair immediately. More from the Washington Post. Above is Tim Kaine's introductory video and here's a link to his website.

Meanwhile in Florida, former interim Senator George LeMieux announced that he will enter the GOP primary and seek his party's nomination in a bid to unseat the incumbent Democrat, Bill Nelson. LeMieux served 16 months in the Senate after being appointed by then-Governor Charlie Crist to fill a vacancy created when Senator Mel Martinez quit early. So far only one major candidate has declared, Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos with others expected to join the fray.

 

 

Silver Lining in Corporate Attack on Democrats

In the past, corporations and rich donors were savvy enough to split their giving to both political parties so that both sides would have a financial incentive to protect them. Yes, they might lean more to the Republican side, but they gave enough to the Democrats to get them properly motivated to look out for corporate interests.

This is what has led to the two parties playing good cop-bad cop with us for the past 30 years. Republicans are the bad cops who rough up the middle class and the Democrats come in to sooth you over as they pretty much go along with very similar "pro-business" policies.

But now there is an important change in that dynamic. Multinational corporations seem to have pushed their chips all in on the Republican side. The Chamber of Commerce is planning to spend $75 million in these elections and 85% of it will go to Republicans.

Of course, there is a huge downside to this for the average American. The Republicans have an enormous financial advantage because of this and many other "independent" groups like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS piling on money collected from some of the richest people in the country. This is their class warfare to make sure the top 1% and their tax cuts are protected. And they seem to have chosen a very good time with the anti-incumbent feeling in the air so strong and the economy hurting so much.

So, what's the upside? Well, they've given Democrats no incentive not to fight back (which is their usual M.O. in the good cop-bad cop games they've been playing until now). Now that the Democrats feel significantly endangered and there is no good argument for holding back, it's game on.

If the Democrats manage to hold on, for the first time in a long time they would have an incentive to fight back against a system that is rigged in favor of the rich and the powerful. Because those same folks just declared war on them. If they don't join the battle soon, they are going to get wiped out in 2012. If you thought business interests spent a lot of money in this election, wait till you get a load of 2012.

To be clear, of course not all business interests are nefarious. They are a very legitimate constituency to consider when making policy. But when corporations use their power to kill a bill that would have stopped subsidies for offshoring jobs, then that is exactly the kind of abuse of power that is hurting this country. And that just happened last month.

Can you believe our politicians give tax breaks to companies to offshore our jobs? Well, that's the current state of things, because the system is deeply corrupt and both sides were bought off. Were. Now there is some hope the Democrats won't be in the next term.

Of course, the Democrats could be wiped off the board next month. Or the lesson they learn from this election could be that they have to suck up to corporate interest even harder. But so far, the indications are good. President Obama is fighting back on the campaign trail. Nancy Pelosi has had some harsh words for these corporate donors. And even Tim Kaine compared secret corporate giving to Watergate. You know when Tim Kaine gets tough with corporate funders there is a sea change.

So, the silver lining is that after this election we have some chance of getting the Democratic Party back. That for the first time in decades they might be properly motivated to be on our side and looking out for us instead of their corporate donors - because they no longer have those donors.

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