Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Essential detail

Joe Nocera is one of many sober voices who points out that now is the time to move on a "sustained infrastructure program."  Yes, many of our roads and highways are a danger as well as an embarrassment.  But I wish that just one of the Smart Set would tell us how to proceed.

Much has been written about how we have wasted infrastructure funds in the past.  Flyvbjerg and his colleagues have told the story in great detail.  Pork spending episodes are almost a staple of the evening news.  Once we agree to a "sustained infrastructure program," what happens next?  The Solyndra way?  Perhaps most offensive in this mess is the inability of so many to take delivery.  ("These things happen." "There are also mistakes by private investors." etc.)

"Studies" that support any project are easily found.  How to do honest and credible assessments?  The Copenhagen Consensus rankings are a nice example.  Until procedures like this are a part of the discussion,  the exhortations are simply political posturing -- and wasting our time and attention.