Friday, May 15, 2015

Our infrastructure and theirs

Taxpayers are often asked to spend ever more, even as they get less in terms of services. Los Angeles' political leaders cannot manage to make sidewalks safely walkable and it takes an ADA lawsuit to compel them. This LA Times summary tells the story. Note that the story hints at new taxes to meet the lawsuit requirements -- because the old money had "dried up." I guess, left out in the noonday sun, money will do that. Today's WSJ highlights the same phenomenon with respect to the Amtrak derailment tragedy.

I recently spent about two weeks cruising Germany's amazing autobahn. The riddle is how they manage to keep surfaces so smooth while back in Los Angeles the potholes jar cars as well as drivers. This is not a cheeky comment; our road surfaces are perilously bad in many places. OECD reports that as a percent of GDP, the U.S. and Germany spend about the same. Germans, apparently get more bang-for-buck than Americans do.

Is too much of our spending politicized? Do our leaders see infrastructure spending as mainly a jobs program? As the Amtrak story unfolds, we will see more evidence on this.


Amtrak's budget