As for private infrastructure, private investors are happy to cut all kinds of corners. It's all about profit, preferably short term, than making something lasting, and even less so, about being proud in it.
The funny thing is, not very long ago (well, 30 years or so still) people were awestruck going into the US from Asia, Europe, etc. I've visited the US many times in the past decades, but I was more impressed with the past artifacts (e.g. Route 66, Chicagoan art deco, the fabulous country side, old New York skyscrapers, New Orleans, etc.) than with modern infrastructure. Heck, third tier cities in Europe have better subways and airports.
(That said, I did appreciate the abundance of ultra-cheap consumer electronics compared to old Europe).
The other thing I think (not an expert) is too much bureaucracy -- all the busy works laws and regulations that quadruple the cost of any project, and not in a good (e.g. public safety, long term quality, etc) way.
What's funny is the US budget is still huge. Just the stuff going into military BS could provide for top notch infrastructure, and even create an environment that could still jobs from China with a better supply chain (though, of course, the US can never account for the sheer number of Chinese workers).
I don't think the American voter is what is broken here. People still believe in infrastructure projects. It's the public sector that has shown they can't be trusted to complete any worthwhile project for a reasonable amount of resources.
The quintessential example of this is urban rail, which is ridiculously expensive in America:
So few people care about voting that local budgets are subject to the approval of the family and friends of police and firefighters, so we get to pay ever increasing taxes to their unsustainable pensions. Everyone moved to 401k 30 years ago, except for police, fire, and judges. Why is that? Because they all vote, and the rest of the public sits at home watching TV.
Some people don't have enough time, etc, blah blah, but while that is a valid excuse for some, over time, I have realized people are just lazy and they don't want to participate in their communities, they don't want to read the news or go to town meetings even if they have the time. Hence it is the voters fault. It is taken for granted that we have mostly corruption free elections.
I know a lot of folks in far-left cities that think that public sector union benefits are much too generous -- and wish the local government would take crime more seriously -- and wonder if additional tax increases are really in order.
And yet when it's time to vote they choose the candidates on the extreme left... as a rebuke to Trump or something..? even though he has nothing to do with city politics.
I would love to find a place to live where the government payroll is all cash, no benefits. Pay whatever you have to, six figures and whatnot, it just has to be in cash, so that taxpayers can see and compare the costs accurately.
Pensions and health benefits are nice, since those numbers can be fudged. It gives mayors and city council members plausible deniability and lets them claim they aren't raising taxes or keeping them low, and shove the costs 20 years into the future. Most people aren't going to want to hear about the conflicts of interest on the board of trustees for pension funds or the actuarial consultant being hired by the same people benefiting from the pensions.
There are tons of examples of the public sector doing major works throughout the history of the United States. Only now, during a time of incredible distrust in our capability to do public works, does it become expensive/impossible.
To give one example, the Hoover Dam was completed under budget and two years early, and cost well under one billion in today's dollars. There were actually large penalties written into the contract for various stages of the construction taking too long, e.g. $3k per day the diversion tunnels were late, and there was no additional money to be made by fucking up and running over-budget. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoover_Dam
Contrast with construction projects today, where the goal seems, essentially, to go over budget and over time, because you get paid more that way. The government doesn't hold the companies accountable, and because of this, they purposely run up costs and billable days.
Amazing feats of construction are possible these days with modern technology, way more than what was accomplished with the Hoover Dam, but not when incentives aren't aligned.
There are plenty of other countries where the relationship between private construction companies and the government remains honest, and those citizens thus get a lot more bang for their tax dollar in infrastructure projects.
Contrast with SpaceX, which has to have successful launches in order to survive. They are incentivized to succeed, and so they do. The SLS program has little incentive to succeed, so instead it turns into a game of extracting as much money as possible (which is inimical to succeeding quickly!!!).
Well, they have succeeded so far due to a huge amount of capital and talented people working very hard. I think more importantly is, if a system fails, that it shrinks in power and eventually disappears instead of getting bigger and stronger. A well working free market seems the best way humans have devised to do that so far.
I think if there is any comprehensive reason why companies like SpaceX, Tesla or e.g. Amazon are successful is because they are vertically integrated. The limited the amount of activity, and responsibility, not under their own control. These days the government is often prevented from doing this, and large companies often want to cut cost in the short term.
These companies have understood that their is less of an information gap these days, so there is little reason to let others take care of you core activities.
* Private sector grift/contract savviness
* Government corruption or lack of authority to deal with above
* Individual safety prioritized over all else - work
stoppages for the most relatively minor of unsafe situations
* Environmental reviews/lawsuits
* Cost of modern materials/manpower
* Lack of will over the past 30 years to fund necessary maintenance
As a total layperson who doesn't work in either construction or government, I'd love to hear whether I'm on the right track here.
With little in the way of warranties, or so public perception goes. So then the public sector has to pay even more money to get stuff fixed, and contractors have little to no incentive to increase quality. Germany has warranties on roads. Their roads are supposed to be good. Italy isn't as good about warranties on public projects. Their road projects are supposed to be quagmires of corruption.
The US? In the past, the practice had been for 1 year warranties on road projects, but following the example of countries like Germany, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, and Great Britain, federal officials have been trying to extend that out to 5 years for all federally funded road projects. New Mexico had a 20 year warranty on one project.
(EDIT: I did some Googling, and found that some progress had been made, actually. My opinion on this was formed in the 90's, but there's new information now.)
Rinse, repeat. There are politicians pushing this in the UK (most notably with the NHS) - starve [public institution] of cash, make it worse, bring in private companies to plug the gaps and provide a pathway to privatise the whole system. Everybody wins! /s
Block fleet renovations, investment into long-term sustainability, disregard expert's advice
|> as it all comes inevitably crumbling down, point at it and go "look how terrible the rail system is, look how terrible the state is at managing enterprises"
|> when the company goes 100s of millions in the hole sell it to a private company for pennies (preferably to some well-connected friends in this fucking revolving door "democracy")
|> move on dismantling the next public enterprise
New Yorkers pay handsomely for their mediocre transit -- an amount that always seems to be growing beyond inflation. And yet less and less seems to be returned for their largesse.
The only way to make it work is to hold the private sector accountable of the quality they produce.
I want proof of that. I would argue that a larger problem is that politics is too involved in the actual approval process, which is corruption. A great example would be when a local city council needs to approve an apartment complex, and a bunch of homeowners come and complain because their home prices might go down.
I would argue that this occurs on any number of projects, and is probably a primary concern. If it is a complaint about environmental regulations, well, environmental regulations should get top priority at this point.
> It's all about profit, preferably short term, than making something lasting, and even less so, about being proud in it.
My sense is that we are culturally pushed towards being ostentatious about the wealth that we own. A bigger house, a nicer car, that trip to some other nation - all wasteful carbon-wise, but that's the point. The whole system is exploitative of people and environment and we are pushed to participate, and escaping that is difficult because we've built out so much infrastructure around those ideas.
See stcredzero's comment below. I'm not an American, but that's the impression I've got from all I've read -- crazy regulations and litigation-happy climate working together to drive costs prohibitive.
The problem is the propaganda and the desire for private firms, who have incentives opposite the taxpayers.
tl;dr is that houses were once dirt cheap, because fewer laws meant that people could innovate. Now, it takes $60k worth of permitting to even just add an addition to a house, and people are reduced to building sheds and outdoor "living rooms" on their deck.
(That's how much freedom we've lost by voluntarily taking it away from ourselves, basically to deny freedom to people lower down on the socioeconomic ladder.)
I have to get on and off in a packed subway during rush hour so many times that at the end of my journey I am so exhausted and sick.
I also get less sick when I travel by car.
But you bashed private infrastructure a line earlier.
Not sure what you're going for.
And no, the military budget can't go down, look at how much German is complaining about just being asked to pay it's NATO dues.
Route 66 was not private infrastructure, and even the private development along it was subsidized by public infrastructure.
> And no, the military budget can't go down
Yes, it can.
> look at how much German is complaining about just being asked to pay it's NATO dues.
Germany isn't complaining, and the issue isn't even about paying NATO dues but moving it's own total defense spending up to NATO targets. (And the major controversy isn't about whether to do that, but how aggressively to do so.)
And the big reason European NATO members can continue to drag their feet on that is US excessive defense spending.
Well, Route 66 is not "private infrastructure". Neither was the Interstate system for that matter (Einsenhower and co, iirc). The skyscrapers are.
But I was talking about how the US now lacks both kinds of infrastructure.
That is, I'm not against private infrastructure per se. But I said, today's private investors "are happy to cut all kinds of corners. It's all about profit, preferably short term, than making something lasting, and even less so, about being proud in it".
>And no, the military budget can't go down, look at how much German is complaining about just being asked to pay it's NATO dues.
Then again, we don't need NATO. It was a cold war "coalition" where european governments were either strong armed into entering, paid off, or the right wingers pushed them in, in opposition to the USSR. Today's there's no real enemy, if anything NATO is constantly on the offensive expanding and pushing into Russia's neighbors. It's just a show put on to justify the huge budgets -- it's only alluring to the ex-eastern bloc countries that are actually having old beefs with Russia.
If anything, the joint NATO efforts in the middle east and around, not only do not protect, but destabilize those regions and cause more mayhem and terrorists coming into Europe.
My country, and others, have voted into power politicians that promised to get us "out of NATO", and still kept us in.
How about your country goes away from a history of 100 years meddling with my country's politics, including supporting a dictatorship?
The article mentions "wealthy Asian nations" as an example of what things could be like in terms of quality of infrastructure. Do you know what those nations have in common? Homogeneity. Japan is 98% ethnically Japanese. Thailand is 92% ethnically Thai. China is 94% Han. It's a lot harder to consider someone "not of your tribe" when you're less diverse.
The U.S. was never thought as cohesive. It's why we started with multiple states that facilitated nations.
New York City has some of the worst (and oldest) airports in the nation. And yet, if you fly into neighboring Newark it's fairly nice and has great integration with the train system.
What's strange about America is you see this phenomenon where the richest cities have the worst infrastructure. As a foreigner, you may think that New York would be this shining beacon on a hill given its wealth. But, nope, the infrastructure is old, grimey and gross. Meanwhile, the facilities in smaller second-tier cities are quite nice.
Not coincidentally Terminal C is the exclusive domain of a single airline (United), who could finance the improvements and realize the benefits of a renovated terminal. Terminals A and B are shared between a bunch of airlines, so no individual airline has much of an incentive to finance renovations.
IMO Newark's integration with the train system is much worse than JFK's, because the Newark AirTrain is slow and unreliable, and there are often 40+ minute gaps between NJ Transit trains at the Newark Airport stop. The JFK AirTrain is speedier and more reliable, and the combined frequency of LIRR and the subway is much higher at Jamaica.
The AirTrain is handy, but it costs $5 to go a couple miles, which is absurd.
In addition, it wasn't extra-expensive to take public transit from the airport to the city, again completely unlike America.
The issue much of the time is accumulated grime and disrepair. If they allowed for constant maintenance (daily, weekly cleaning and monthly repairs and other work) I think much of airport and transport infrastructure would appear better and function better.
I recall in Japan, obviously there are exceptions, but one would see proprietors dusting and cleaning rafters and other typically untouched spaces, to keep their businesses looking new and attended to, no cobwebs, dust bunnies or grime accumulation. Same with transport facilities, you see people with spray bottle and rag wiping things down constantly.
Shinjuku station, for example, is a jumbled mess of a warren with extra low ceilings and so on is not “modern”, but it’s pretty clean given 2MM daily riders.
Cities like Paris or London on the other hand seem to be more modern inside but on the outside they're covered in a layer of filth that I haven't seen in the US. I guess that's what you get for having so many diesel vehicles driving around (and is why the transition to EVs is so important).
You're right about poorly maintained public spaces however. Civic Center BART station comes to my mind.
At this point a big improvement wouldn't just come from a facelift, even just a sponge, a broom and some care would make things immensely better.
This blew my mind. The London underground isn't exactly spotless, but it's cleaned (at least once) every day.
From what I read, they've recently updated most BART wagons, so now they look more modern. But back in 2012 it was quite funny to see them in the tech capital of the world :)
The car I ended up stepping in, I recognized as being the same model used on Seinfeld in 1992, with the old orange seats.
We have loads of critical infrastructure, namely bridges, dams, etc that are long past their serviceable lifespan and are accidents waiting to happen. It's a nationwide problem and we aren't doing anything about it.
Unfortunately all signs point to a scenario where people are going to die before it gets any better.
No signs point towards a scenario where things get better after people die. Our political system is a sick one. Expect no change.
You're right, we should have immediately banned all firearms nationally to prevent something like this from happening again, trampling all over the 2nd amendment. (nevermind how the hell you'd implement it without a thousand Ruby Ridges and Wacos, or why you expect to find more than a third of the guns in the first place ) It's not like he could have crashed a plane loaded with AMFO into the crowd instead, right? Or maybe we should just expand California's gun laws nationally, since that's worked out so well to stop the mass shootings there.
You say "OMG how haven't we fixed this, it must mean we don't care" while proposing no solutions, for a problem that might not have a solution. Britain still has terrorist attacks (vans, acid, knives) and that's after banning carrying a fucking butter knife. Humans will always find ways to kill each other, (checkout improvised prison weapons sometime) let's not go too crazy hunting down one of the smallest sources.
So, maybe our response to shootings shouldn't be compared to our response to crumbling infrastructure. At least with the infrastructure, there's a path forward that almost everyone would agree would work. That's not the case with guns.
Britain, and specifically London, seems to rival Paris and Brussels in terms of gang violence, but you still get a lot less dead people than in the US. You're suggesting there might not be a solution, yet practically no Western state except the US has this problem in the first place.
Citation needed. A cursory look at Wikipedia for suicide rates suggests that they took a dip in the late 90s but otherwise are flat from the 80.
Violent crime has been trending down for decades.
Though I'll continue to argue that this is still kind of unacceptable, since a constant rate over an increased population means more people dying.
So that's 146 who died due to an effort to take their guns. Let's not repeat history.
On a similar note, there was the Waco siege. That was also an effort to seize guns. There the US government killed 76, which is also worse than the Las Vegas incident, but partly done by burning people to death instead of shooting them.
You'd have to have a very special configuration of what to include as mass shooting for Wounded Knee to count but none of Antietam, the Lawrence Massacre, the Opelousas Massacre, the Greenwood Massacre, the Fort Pillow Massacre, the Bear River Massacre, any number of major attacks in the California Genocide, etc., to be included.
But, by the usual standards, neither those nor Wounded Knee are included in the scope of that term.
Hell, people are dying every day in traffic accidents that could be mitigated with better design (or reduced by making better mass transit as an alternative, which as a byproduct is also much safer than driving).
It's a really terrible state of affairs.
The appeal to extremes and gerrymandering came afterwards. The obstructionist politics are not about willpower -- the issue is systemic.
*Climate change doesn't count because one side doesn't see it as a threat.
Say you have a senator who's constituents don't care one way or the other about your bill but their party affiliation requires them to vote against your bill. You toss them an earmark that they can use to say "look at how I've helped you" to his constituents next election with the understanding that he'll break from his party's default position on your bill.
It's also obviously clear that at least one person in the US government doesn't like the current state of our infrastructure and would love to do something about it.
Did you read the article?
There's something deeply wrong with large scale construction costs in America, but it isn't politics. Or it isn't _just_ politics. Politics and corruption can't explain 5-10x more expensive costs.
Consider the following simple hypothetical - imagine that a project requires a single person to implement, and that person costs $100k in yearly salary (and assume for argument's sake that benefits that benefits, cost of materials, etc. are all free), and after a year of steady work, the project will be completed. Such a project would have a projected cost of $100k. Now let's assume that this person is distracted - they need to get their every decision approved, they have to pitch their work to stakeholders, etc., and as a result, the project now takes two years. Just by virtue of the project taking more time - all other factors constant - the project now costs double because the project now costs two years' salary instead of one.
When you have a political structure whereby Federal funding mixes with environmental review mixes with state funding mixes with private funding mixes with local permitting mixes with multiple state and local bodies each with their own permitting setups etc. - you have a guarantee that the process will be slower than molasses.
Then you have foreign countries with transit authorities having sole oversight and dedicated funding getting projects done in a fraction of the time.
You can argue that having three people paid $60,000 each to do the work of one foreigner making $10,000 a year in Asia is a 18x increase in costs. And you would be correct if labor costs were actually the majority of the overall cost. But they're not - administration is.
As bad as grift and corruption are, it did ensure that everyone had skin in the game and that money flowed in two directions. Mostly everyone had to make good on their promises. At the extremes there are bad examples of corruption where nothing got done, sure, but nothing getting done is the norm now with very little corruption.
Basic game theory predicts how these systems will play out. I really wonder why people are surprised with the results we get today.
The biggest cost overruns today are from delays.
Corruption can explain any increase in cost, if your hands are in the money purse you can steal as much as you want.
As someone who currently works for a local government organization that manages public transportation for the region I'm not sure that's the case.
I think the author correctly recognizes it as America's problem with "cost disease'". The organization I work for receives billions of dollars yearly and most of it is pissed away.
Our websites, for example, often get built by consultants. Sometimes to the tune of millions of dollars. These websites are usually your typical CRUD apps too so you might think they'd be done well for millions of dollars. Nope, they usually have garbage for a code base. The code is so garbage that we usually have to keep paying them to maintain the websites because we don't understand how their mess works.
The worst part is that these websites are often rebuilt a few years later. They're built again, by another consultant, with the hopes that they'll better suit our future needs.
This is just the massive waste of money that I've noticed from within my department. I can only imagine how bad it is within others.
We all know that large corporations are far less efficient than smaller companies. So why do we keep letting public organizations turn into bloated behemoths?
Any daily commuter in Paris will tell you that this is untrue. Trains are often extremely full, delays happen frequently and many stations are deeply run down.
On the other hand it's true that many Parisian stations are simply disgusting and could urgently use a renovation. Given how hugely touristic Paris is it's quite shameful really.
Anyone here who lived in the Netherlands as well as the USA to compare?
Where in Germany do you live? I was just in Munich and the U-bahn there is fantastic compared to anything I've ever seen in America. It was crowded during rush hour, but aside from that, everything was clean and organized, and the trains were really quite smooth to ride on unlike the ones in DC and NYC.
It's not reliably late, either: some days it's 1 minute late, some days 10.
You also can't see when it will be late: there does not seem to be live tracking that tells you within a minute when the bus will actually be there. I only recently found the website from the local company that can tell the difference between "within 5 minutes on time" and "more than 5 minutes late". It tells you "+3" (rounded to the minute it seems) but that could mean anything between +3 and, say, +8, and after the departure time +3 minutes, it just removes it from the departures list, even if you're standing at the stop and you're sure quite sure it hasn't left yet...
Deutsche Bahn and Öffi claim to have realtime data but they don't.
Having to get info from disparate companies is another thing: in the Netherlands there is a collective of public transport companies (iirc it's NDOV) that creates a common standard that apps and websites can use for information (things like the coordinates of all stations and stops, schedules, and delays precise to a few seconds).
It just seems like a big mess, probably due to the lower population density. On the upside, that lower density means you actually have nature: I can drive an hour and be in the middle of nowhere. Having that space is kind of nice. That just doesn't exist in the Netherlands (there doesn't seem to be any place more than 500 metres removed from any road, path or building).
> compared to anything I've ever seen in America
I haven't been to the USA so I can't make that comparison. Like I said, I can't imagine what the American system must look like if it's made out to be so much worse than Germany.
outer rim paris on the other hand will show you what a delay is
mainstream theory is that national company was more interested by luxury high speed rail than true public transportation. Which is also cited as one cause for the yellow vest thing because bad public transportation => more car rides => people super angry if oil taxes increase.
I think the commenter was referring to the fact purchasing power is not dense (ie, dense areas don't have as high a purchasing power)? A little confused by this too.
I like looking at purchase power in general, rather than GDP - the absolute numbers don't matter so much as long as your domestic market is large enough to produce most things people need.
Secondly, the density of savings and taxes per square kilometer is giving you an idea about how much potential for development a current settlement has. That's the capital that can be drawn from directly. Density of spendings (train tickets, consumer goods etc.) is the driver for outside capital to come in trying to get a dividend. Taken all together (savings + spendings) you get the density of PPP adjusted GDP per square kilometer as a figure that matters. As you can see in , US and China is actually quite similar in this metric, and it's probably also still similar if you just take its coastal regions. I also think that this metric is very similar for the population belt between London and Rome, and the East Coast corridor in the US.
It's hard to use "they are different" argument when your country is objectively worse than Switzerland and China.
It also helps that the topography forces development into mostly linear shapes (following the valleys), rather than radiating in all directions as normally happens in flatter terrain. Linear corridors are much easier to serve via public transit, because everything is "on the way".
Check out Switzerland on Google Earth and these features will jump out at you: https://email@example.com,8.22421005,1311.812...
E.g., San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, at the center of Silicon Valley, have population density of 663 and 580 per km^2. And of course San Francisco has a whopping 7249 per km^2. They also have a string of connected cities, thanks to being constrained by the pacific and the SF bay from either side.
I don't think I have to repeat on HN what the infrastructure looks like in the Silicon Valley.
* Besides, your argument can be paraphrased as "Of course it's easier in Switzerland, because it's filled with mountains!" Think about it.
Obviously that analogy is far from perfect, as Seattle has its own set of infrastructure problems, but extrapolating from most European countries doesn't seem particularly useful.
Is it though? I would assume NYC falls in that category and the subway is crumbling. The cars are old, and some of its subway stations have not only not been remodeled in years, they haven't been painted or cleaned recently either .
Manhattan is an incredibly rich and dense area, I'd say in theory the city is just as, or better setup for success in terms of public transport than Tokyio, Paris, or Mexico City. Yet, public transport in these cities seems to overall be of better quality than New York's.
Reading a bit into it, it seems clear that it's a matter of corruption, inefficiency and lack of will to fix things , not just "the way things have to be" due to external forces.
And I don’t think your point about Manhattan necessarily refutes my point. Just because a place is wealthy doesn’t mean it will have great infrastructure, but there are wealthy places in the US with good infrastrcture.
I also don’t dispute that it’s not a priority in most of the U.S. I just take issue with the idea that it’s easy to figure out what to do and we just need to look at a place like Zurich.
The U.S. is huge. It’s certainly more homogenous than Europe, but it’s big enough and variable enough that a lot of people deign to call the middle 2,000! miles fly-over country. Zurich and Istanbul are only like 1,400 miles apart, and are such drastically different places, but people expect the whole U.S. to have it’s infrastructure together when 1,500 miles gets you just halfway across the U.S.
You're going to have to tell me what those are, because I've been all over the US and I have absolutely no idea what places these might be. All the wealthy places I've seen in the US either have crumbling infrastructure (northeast), terrible public transit, or no real public transit at all and expect everyone to get around in cars (e.g., suburban DC area).
>but people expect the whole U.S. to have it’s infrastructure together when 1,500 miles gets you just halfway across the U.S.
No, people expect the US's major metro areas to have their infrastructure together (i.e., subways), and they just don't.
It's death by a thousand tax cuts.
We have a ton of old buildings, privately owned. Mine included, where it's a small building of 4 floors and 4 owners. One appartement per floor.
It's so hard to get people into investing money without any monetary return.
We fix problems after they happen. We waited for the rain pipe to break to fix it, we waited for the balcony to leak in order to fix it etc..
In Marseille two buildings collapsed right in the center of city. They were decrepit and owned by a company who never invested a dim despite problem reported. People actually died.
I wonder how many time it need to happen until we wake up?
I'm managing my coproperty, and it's so hard to even find what kind of local/governmental help we can get. We would be very happy to redo insulation and building beams if it was possible to co-finance it which public/city money.
But instead the norm seems to let 150 years old building (built with good materials) getting destroyed and build new cheap reinforced concrete one.
Is it really cheaper to pop ton of buildings which will not even last 50 years?
What is there no incentive to help privately owned building maintenance?
Hey, I'd be happy to accept public money to fix my own house as well. But frankly, I bought it cheaper since it had those problems so I don't see how that would be fair to my fellow taxpayers.
Which is kinda lame because giving 250K would be cheaper than buying 1M worth of land to demolish a building and build a 3M building on top of it.
This is what you get when you have a single building with multiple owners. Can you imagine having a car that's owned by 4 people? It wouldn't get maintained either. This is why in the US, condos (buildings with separately-owned units) are run by management companies who have the authority to do maintenance and repairs and to charge the owners for this if it's more than their monthly condo fee.
Of course, this isn't immune to problems (mgmt companies are frequently accused of mismanagement), but it sounds like you don't have anything like that in place, just multiple people owning pieces of the same building, with no central governance. That can never work out.
>In Marseille two buildings collapsed right in the center of city. They were decrepit and owned by a company who never invested a dim despite problem reported. People actually died.
>I wonder how many time it need to happen until we wake up?
This sounds like a clear case of negligence. Here, generally there'd be a big lawsuit against the management company, and possibly investigation of criminal negligence since someone died. Criminal negligence is a crime, not a tort, and can result in the management going to prison.
It's crowded, it does not cover everything it's just as good as it can get.
Public transp. is not everything and wont solve all your problems.
Talking about the US government when discussing the infrastructure most people talk about is misattribution. State policy creates those outcomes and all politics is local. There is no homogeneous "US infrastructure", there is a conglomeration of State infrastructures of greatly varying quality and reflecting the priorities of different States.
All of which is to say that infrastructure is not an America problem, it is a State problem. If the infrastructure in California, Nebraska, etc is dilapidated then that is the fault of the people that live in and run those States.
> "organizations which design systems ... are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations."
Perhaps that extends to society at large, too. We're still living down IBM's strawman product of the PC. Everything is legacy and ossificed. Newer open source stuff, the other half of our commons, is often fad driven and also doesn't seek to improve/replace the garbage beneath it. Unix is still lauded in these parts, but it's also long out of date.
Sometimes I think of old school networking to SDNs. A lot of stuff today in programs and in real life seems overly uncoordinated or narrow-minded. It's all the downsides of distribution systems without the benefits (not autonomous or resilient). Perhaps judicious optional centralization (aquaponics + healthcare co-opt?) Is a path forward?
In the virtual realm, Nixpkgs as a "Domesday Book" (first census in a while) of the whole realm of software in the commons (how to build, compose, and develop each piece) strikes me as another example.
Tucson had a project for widening state highway 10 that took years, and it is still not done-- 10+ years after being announced.
Signs, barriers etc. go up for months with no sign of work, or when there is work going on it takes forever to complete.
As a nation, we are incapable of delivering a high speed rail system to match those in Europe or Asia.
Western european countries and cities industrialized even before US states and cities. They just had very different development priorities, that were formed partly around their historical pre-automobile population density.
But it turns out that the US model (low density sprawl) has a much higher per capita long-term maintenance and replacement cost. In many cases, that cost outstrips the infrastructure's productivity in the long term.
For more background on this:
Of course the US has plenty of neglected infrastructure in high density areas, too. That's a complex subject, having to do with decades of urban disinvestment.
I'll give you that European countries are smaller, though in this case I don't see the relevance (talking about trains, sure, talking about major AIRPORTS - doesn't hold), but I don't see "more recently developed". Europe covers a range, sure, but a good chunk of it has been developed at the same general pace as North American countries.
> It’s not that we don’t have things that need fixed and maintained, but the hyperventilating about it is overdone at this point.
Until I actually see anything changing, I can't agree. I don't particular advocate "hyperventilating", but I just watched the country (within the past decade or so) twice pass major tax cuts and move through a period of extremely cheap borrowing and not invest in known infrastructure maintenance needs. We're not even breaking even on the issue.
Most of the east coast is now so densely populated you can almost go north to south without ever leaving what one might call “a city/suburbs”, tens if not hundreds of millions of residents in a pretty damn small area when you think about it. Public transit still sucks from what I hear.
Granted, everyone always says their public transit sucks and that seems interesting too.
Leave Chinese cities and go into the countryside and there are primarily dirt roads.
If we consider "megacities", they are at 15 vs the US's two (NYC and LA) .
In fact this is interesting, because although its population is huge in terms of the rest of nations-- about "a full Brazil" bigger than all of North America, and Europe (including Russia) combined -- to put things in another perspective, we're talking about a country that's just 4.3 times the size of the US , yet it has 10x more cities and 7x more megacities.
This makes me think it's less rural than the US, which probably yields more focus on cities and less investment in rural areas.
Yes, like China.
Answer: not a lot.
On the other hand, Shenzhen needed to build a new airport relatively recently to accommodate their rapid economic growth. So, they were able to tap all of the new design and building techniques that have been learned in the 70 years since the United States went through its airport boom. And the fact of the matter is capacity and necessity are what should drive the creation and updating of airports--not some inferiority complex about some other city's being nicer.
The same thing happened that is biting Italy and soon Germany: Politicians like to open new buildings/roads/..., but the maintenance budget is often enough forgotten at best and ignored at worst.
And to make matters even worse: with most infrastructure, continuous maintenance over 30-40 years is cheap compared to the inevitable outright rebuild neccessary after the same timespan without any maintenance.
Some parts of Europe look way more modern than the US because it had to be. Much of it had been destroyed a couple times.
PS I am not humiliated by some potholes.
Decades newer is true. WwI destroyed every penny of Europe’s infrastructure. They did it again less than 30 years later.
They've since upgraded LAX, but the upgrades are more modest, sort of like gutting a 1960's building and refurbishing it, rather than starting from scratch.
The Trump administration is negotiating a deal with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan, at the end of the day it will have cost us over 2,000 American lives and 2 Trillion dollars. Imagine if instead we committed 2 trillion dollars to create a 21st century infrastructure? How much dividend would that pay off as compared to this war in which we gained nothing? I highly doubt 2,000 workers would've died in the process.
Tackling the military budget is such a political football though, I understand the geopolitical needs to have such a global military, maintain bases, project force, and be at the forefront of military tech. But I wonder when American's will turn an eye and say "hey, why are we spending so much on war when we need programs at home"? As the nation gets older, inequality rises and growth maintains is sluggish pace, the American government will need to take a larger role in facilitating growth. In my opinion de-funding social programs is an absolute nonstarter, the military approaches the same position but I believe are more at risk. Time will come where the Pentagon will need to defend it's budget, especially if you get a future president on the extremes of either party.
Could we spend less on military? Oh for sure, but the idea that we spend more on military than anything else is absolute bullshit.
There are a ton of technicalities involved in government budgeting and accounting though. It's just not a chart you'd want to share to make an honest point in a conversation like this.
Try USA Facts for a more accurate, if older, view: https://usafacts.org/government-finances/spending?comparison...
Privatization isn’t a magic bullet.
If it was a privatized public service then the network would be owned by the municipality and maintained by a private company under a contract which is put up for bids every few years, in the same way that the roads are owned by the municipality which puts private contracts up for bid to do road maintenance.
Privatization works when the government retains ownership over the infrastructure and never signs a contract for longer than ten years. Anything else is almost certainly corruption, and nothing in government works when the government is corrupt.
2) Private enterprise is a different concept from privatization.
3) I don't believe it's mere coincidence that everything the author likes about US infrastructure is privately supplied, while everything he suggests is "humiliating" is publicly funded -- do you?