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How To Spend 50 Billion on Transportation Without Moving At All

The Democrats in Congress speak broadly when they refer to S. 238, the Build America Bonds Act. They speak of infrastructure and transportation, but what kind of infrastructure, and what kind of transportation wouth the Build America Bonds Act support? It’s worth looking at in some detail, because the legislation would spend 50 billion dollars.

The legislation refers to the creation of 50 billion dollars in bonds to fund work on “roads, bridges, rail and transit systems, ports, and inland waterways”. But, how much money would go to each form of transportation?

That’s an important question, given the need to shift the model of transportation in the United States to become more sustainable, environmentally and economically. Rail and other mass transit systems would count as more sustainable. Roads, however, certainly would not.

I read through the entire text of S. 238, looking for this information, assuming that the Build America Bonds Act would include mandates of certain amounts of funding to certain modes of transportation. Sadly, I reached the end of the bill without finding any such direction. It seems that the Build America Bonds Act merely creates a pool of 50 billion dollars of money, which states can then apply to use. It could very well happen that all 50 billion dollars would be used on projects to repair highways, perpetuating the use of automobiles burning fossil fuels. It could happen that not a single cent would be spent upon rail or other systems of mass transportation. The Transportation Finance Corporation set up by the bill could easily become yet another government board that does favors for people with friends in high places.

Less than two hours ago, Barack Obama promised in his inaugural address that there would be accountability in government spending. S. 238 presents a test of that promise. The Build America Bonds Act has no accountability, because it doesn’t have standards that would move America toward greater transportation efficiency. If the Build America Bonds Act passes and is signed by President Obama, it will be a sign that accountability will be selective, applying only to those projects proposed by people who lack insider connections.

Given the lack of direction in the Build America Bonds Act, this transportation bill ought to end up going nowhere.

4 comments to How To Spend 50 Billion on Transportation Without Moving At All

  • qs

    Meet The press interview talking about “The road to serfdom”

    George Will:
    “Thirty years ago when, Dr. von Hayek, you stressed, and now subsequently stressed, that political and economic liberties must either flourish together or perish together. Do you see signs specifically in the United States today, or in Great Britain, with which you’re familiar, that political liberty is endangered?”

    Hayek:
    “In Great Britain certainly, and it is quite clear that by the established democratic process, you cannot conduct the kind of economic policies the present governing party wants to conduct. For the danger of a reduction of political liberty in the Great Britain is considerable. This country is not so imminent, very largely for the reason that the efforts have not been directed so much towards nationalization and direct government controls of industries. But the attempts have been made by a redistribution of incomes by taxation. And that is a much slower process. I think it tends in the same direction, but much more slowly than the other one.”

    • Katherine

      qs comment talking about Dr. von Hayek:

      qs:
      “Every time I post this comment on a blog, I get 5 cents from the Institute for promoting Dr. von Hayek. I’ll just keep cutting and pasting, blah, blah, blah, as if it matters, blah, blah, blah.”

      Hayek:
      “I am such a brilliant man that I think that money can buy love and freedom. I forget that during the first decade of the 21st century, economics and liberty were not at all correlated. Nonetheless, blah, blah, blah, and I’ll pay shills to come onto blogs and post my comments, blah, blah, blah.”

  • qs

    Katherine,

    Well keeping an open mind won’t kill you. It’s not about money. It’s about Freedom. Freedom to succeed or to fail. Ghandi had similar thoughts in his desire to be free from the State as Hayek.

    Anti Statism
    See also: Swaraj
    Gandhi was an anti statist in the sense that his vision of India meant India without an underlying government.[100] His idea was that true self rule in a country means that every person rules himself and that there is no state which enforces laws upon the people.[101][102] On occasions he described himself as a philosophical anarchist.[103] A free India for him meant existence of thousands of self sufficient small communities (an idea possibly from Tolstoy) who rule themselves without hindering others. It did not mean merely transferring a British established administrative structure into Indian hands which he said was just making Hindustan into Englistan.[104] He wanted to dissolve the Congress Party after independence and establish a system of direct democracy in India,[105] having no faith in the British styled parliamentary system.[104]

    • qs, could you please give a try at relating your repetitive comments to the article at hand?

      If I were to write an article about gardening, would you put a comment in there about George Will, Hayek-what’s-his-name, and Gandhi?

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