Ron Paul on Aging infrastructure

  Lew Rockwell.com has a piece by Ron Paul on our aging infrastructure.  He doesn’t mention pigeon poop, which is highly acidic and may have contributed to the collapse, but he does mention some things that are a little troubling.  It’s true that our highway system has some issues, and actions are already being implemented to address these issues.

     I guess the most bothersome thing about this article is it’s timing.  Let’s just pluck the flavor of the day from the tree, and blame everyone else for what’s happening.  The fact is maintaining the highway system is incredibly expensive, and tax revenues alone are not up to the challenge.  Much of the system is over 40 years old, and decrying “ribbon cutting” as the cause for its condition is verging on scandalous.  While its true that the occassional bridge to nowhere ends up on a budget, the vast majority of highway dollars are spent on…well…highways.  If you don’t believe me when is the last time you went anywhere and weren’t hampered by road construction?  These projects aren’t cheap, and recent efforts to tie in private enterprise is showing promise, as will an increase in the gas tax.

   The Trans Texas Corridor section of the article is downright erroneous, and goes against some of his most prominent beliefs.  This is a case of state government and free markets working together to improve the quality of life from a safety and economic standpoint.  It has nothing to do with NAFTA, as Cinta is a Spanish based company.  His allegation that this is phase one of a NAFTA Superhighway is unsubstantiated, and therefore political rhetoric.

   What is factual is that this route doesn’t pass through Ron Paul’s districts, as one of the alternate route’s (I-69) did.   This means no revenue from the Trans Texas Corridor will directly affect his district, and in light of the fact that he sought funding for I-69 as recently as this year, it would not be a huge leap of logic that Ron Paul is unhappy with the route.

   Further Cinta is not only paying for a massive section of the corridor, (the section they will receive toll revenue from), but is also required to maintain it.  This while splitting toll revenue with the state on a sliding scale that will reach 50% prior to the end of the contract.  If someone offered to build you a businesss, maintain it, and give you half the proceeds, would you feel it was a bad deal?  Thought not.

   This article may be the first time I’ve ever felt Ron Paul was not only wrong, but hypocritical.  His free market stance and strong state government position is a matter of public record.  But calling for government oversight seems to be more big government interjection in a state issue.  Why is Ron Paul making unsubstantiated allegations, and calling for federal oversight of a state issue?  Maybe because like one of my readers once said, Ron Paul is for his freedom, and against mine.

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4 Responses to Ron Paul on Aging infrastructure

  1. bhday says:

    Visit http://www.corridorwatch.org for some good reasons that folks (besides Ron Paul) are suspicious of the TTC. Here are some quotes:

    ” Last weekend Governor Perry vetoed 49 more bills. Property protections were dashed with the veto of an eminent domain bill TxDOT didn’t like. Another bill that would have required TxDOT to consider using existing highway routes for future TTC routes was struck down. A bill that called on the Attorney General to study the impact of international agreements on Texas was ridiculed by the Commission and also vetoed by the Governor.”

    “Instead of building public projects based on the best low bid, the state is adopting a policy of building major projects based on the best high bid. When the state enters into one of these agreements called a “comprehensive development agreement,” or CDA, the state agrees to limit competition. The investor gets a guarantee that other roads will not be built to compete in any way with the CDA toll road.”

    Ron Paul states that use of private financing for infrastructure can be a good thing if handled properly. However, it’s not clear that the TTC proposal balances public and private interests.

    Regarding Ron Paul’s role in the debate as a federal Congressional representative, you’ve gotta love this. Check out page 134 of the document “Exhibit C – Conceptual Financial Plan” from http://ttc.keeptexasmoving.com/projects/ttc35/contracts.aspx. Here’s the key quote:

    “All six near-term facilities to be developed under private concession arrangements are fully privately financed. That is, they require no public funds *as defined by TxDOT*. TIFIA financing is anticipated for each.”

    What’s TIFIA? “The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 1998 (TIFIA) established a Federal credit program for eligible transportation projects of national or regional significance under which the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) may provide three forms of credit assistance – secured (direct) loans, loan guarantees, and standby lines of credit.”

    Ah, yes. So these projects will be developed without public financing “as defined by the Texas DOT”. But they WILL use public funds from our Federal government. What a deal for Cintra, and what a deal for residents of all other states. If the free market can’t provide financing, let’s let the federal government print the money instead.

    So now my question is why *other* representatives (outside of Texas) aren’t more concerned? Well, I guess they’re also looking forward to using TIFIA for their own public-private “partnerships”.

  2. hi barry…i’ve been reading this dreck for two days. What it comes down to is simple politics….the bad guys are doing something heinous according to the good guys. The bottom line is this highway has a lot of support. Of course farmers don’t like it, and democrats don’t like it. These officials were voted in, and like all politicians are doing the job they feel they should be doing. Are they right? Time will tell. The only thing certain is that a state government used its current power to enter into a free market agreement to build a highway, and Ron Paul doesn’t like it.

    as far as the “using the best high bid…the low bid is often not taken in contract projects. The reasons for this can vary…lack of references, no demonstrated experience at handling the scope of work, etc

  3. bhday says:

    “The only thing certain is that a state government used its current power to enter into a free market agreement to build a highway, and Ron Paul doesn’t like it.” –> If the contractor’s proposal didn’t depend on federal loan guarantees from TIFIA, then I could buy that argument. But since the documents state that the financials are dependent on federal TIFIA subsidies, it looks like a typical public/private gravy train.

    And I interpreted the “high bid” comment to reflect the state’s desire to maximize its financial return, as opposed to providing the best service at the lowest cost to its constituents. That’s the challenge with using private/public partnerships effectively. Not saying that it can’t happen… but in this case it looks like the state’s motivation is to use its power of eminent domain to get the land at the cheapest price, help the contractor fleece the US taxpayers with the best federal subsidies for the financing, and use its power of monopoly regarding road construction to prevent competition to the revenue-generating road that results. But maybe I’m just cynical.

  4. like i said…it depends on the vantage point. i’ve read about 500 pages, and while it looks like some farmers will certainly be overpaid for their land, everything else looks pretty much boiler plate…the company involved is incredibly solvent, and most texans want the road…thats what i call a win

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