Lion of the Blogosphere

Decaying infrastructure and “cost disease”

If you read a lot of news articles, then surely you’ve read about the problem of decaying infrastructure. For example, there’s this article at the New Yorker.

From the crumbling bridges of California to the overflowing sewage drains of Houston and the rusting railroad tracks in the Northeast Corridor, decaying infrastructure is all around us, and the consequences are so familiar that we barely notice them—like urban traffic congestion, slow-moving trains, and flights that are often disrupted, thanks to an outdated air-traffic-control system. The costs are significant, once you reckon wasted time, lost productivity, poor public-health outcomes, and increased carbon emissions.

While the author of that article blames “politics” and “complacency,” he completely ignores the real culprit, which is cost disease (as I blogged about yesterday).

It seems to me that what’s really going on is that civil engineering projects are ten times as expensive (in real inflation-adjusted dollars) compared to the 1930s. Therefore, infrastructure that was built a long time ago, and is now nearing its end of life, is ten times as expensive to replace than what it originally cost to build, because of cost disease. This means that either we can’t afford to repair/replace our infrastructure, or we can only afford it by making sacrifices in the form of significantly higher taxes and/or significantly reduced government spending on other desirable things.

Decaying infrastructure is the natural result of severe cost disease.

If cost disease continues, and the cost of civil engineering projects double again, then we can expect a very dystopian future.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

May 31, 2017 at 7:40 PM

Posted in Economics

76 Responses

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  1. Saw it on Instapundit last week – according to laws negotiated by CA unions, minimum hourly wage for a guy/gal putting up orange cones is $43.97/hr. That’s a starting wage, let me repeat that.


    May 31, 2017 at 7:52 PM

    • that’s it. that’s the ticket. the unions are the problem. wages are lower today for such jobs as a result of the war on unions started by reagan. california may be an exception however. probably is.


      silly little man

      May 31, 2017 at 8:09 PM

      • Unions are one of the only ways working class people can negate accreditation disease.


        June 1, 2017 at 9:35 AM

    • And you or I will never get these jobs, even if we wanted to do them. Strong unions today, those that can deliver good wages/benefits, are nests of nepotism.

      I like the idea of unions, but I loathe unions as they are now constituted.


      May 31, 2017 at 8:39 PM

    • You know if they raised the minimum wage to $ 777 Trillion, we can have the economy of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is black economics writ large. Even the bum rummaging the trash is a Trillionaire.

      Joshua Sinistar

      June 4, 2017 at 3:37 AM

  2. So Comey is testifying, but then 90 minutes later the House subpoenas Rice, Brennan and Powers. I follow a guy on Twitter, Adam Gingrich of Wick Media Nation, who is very tightly synched in to beltway Republicans, and he says that these subpoenas are without a doubt retaliation by Republicans for Comey agreeing to testify.

    He also think that Comey will back out of giving his testimony.

    Otis the Sweaty

    May 31, 2017 at 8:15 PM

    • Just what can Comey say to hurt Trump that won’t destroy any last hint of credibility he might have?

      He’s already on camera saying there was no interference in the investigation. And no evidence of collusion. and that Trump himself was not under investigation.

      That’s why he may back out of giving his testimony, perhaps?


      June 1, 2017 at 11:59 AM

      • What you just said is why Gingrich said that Comey would back out.

        Gingrich did say Comey has one dangerous (for us) option if he decides to testify, though: He could say, yes Trump told me on multiple times to end the investigation and I *should* have told Congress but I didn’t because I didn’t feel like the country could handle the turmoil and I didn’t know who to report it to cause there was no AG at the time.

        If Comey decides to go that route, that will be seen as very weak *unless* Comey goes one further and says that he did report it to Yates and that Yates then backs him up. Gingrich says that Comey and Yates won’t do that because colluding to lie about that would classify as sedition which is a life sentence if convicted.

        Otis the Sweaty

        June 1, 2017 at 4:49 PM

      • If Comey decides to go that route, that will be seen as very weak *unless* Comey goes one further and says that he did report it to Yates and that Yates then backs him up.

        Comey was most likely trying to bring an obstruction of justice case against Trump by goading him into making a series of “borderline” comments that Comey could then say qualify as obstruction of justice.

        The problem is that Trump fired Comey before he could record enough incidents between him Trump that would amount to obstruction.

        Comey’s reported actions are consistent with passive-aggressive attempts to anger Trump in order to get him to make statements that could be construed as interfering with the investigation.

        Based on what has been reported about their private conversations, Comey appeared very coy responding to Trump’s questions about what state the investigation was in, who was under investigation, whether the intelligence probe was being converted to a criminal case, or whether Trump himself was being criminally investigated.

        Meanwhile, Comey quietly encouraged the media to speculate about the direction of the investigation (such as the urine soaked “dossier”) based on leaks strategically fed to them even though Comey himself had known for months there was no underlying crime.

        In public testimony to the Congress, Comey was careful to give as little information as possible.

        By keeping the true state of the investigation a very tightly held secret and letting it unnecessarily drag on despite most Congressmen and Senators admitting in public they had seen no evidence of a crime, he hoped to let Trump’s imagination and frustration grow wild in meetings Comey meticulously kept notes about.

        Eventually, he planned, Trump would make enough small to medium size (or one obviously over the line) statements that bordered on obstruction for Comey to later argue collectively made for a true case of obstruction.

        Short of a major breach of protocol, a case built on numerous borderline comments was risky for Comey because they had to be minor enough, taken in isolation, to justify why his not earlier coming forward to the DoJ and Congress as he is legally mandated to do.

        But Comey was experienced enough that he could justifiably reason he could walk this tightrope. No less important, Comey enjoyed the political intrigue too much not give it a go.

        In light of this, it is interesting how the media has discussed the investigation. They seemed convinced a scandal would eventually emerge that would harm Trump, but couldn’t quite put their finger on what it exactly the crime would be.

        I believe Comey, very vaguely, signaled to the media that, while evidence for an underlying crime was not promising, they should keep the rampant speculation going because there would eventually be unrelated charges of some sort that would have good odds of leading to impeachment.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        June 2, 2017 at 5:22 PM

  3. This is common right-wing nonsense. The world is transitioning to a supranational reserve currency similar to Keynes’ Bancor. One of the ways the reserve currency is anchored to the real political realm of the member countries is via infrastructure. If you think back to it, money as a political economy has always involved infrastructure, sometimes to absurd degrees (i.e. pyramids). The US national debt reflects its use as the prior world’s reserve currency. We’re letting the infrastructure degrade so that the USD debt can be exchanged with some future UN agency via infrastructure spending. You’ll note as a corollary most supranational banks are infrastructure investment banks.

    The future may very well be dystopian, but infrastructure won’t be the issue, except in areas deemed no go zones as they have no natural resources for the globalist class to care about. The bifurcation of China is a glimmer of the future.

    Helmut Schmidt

    May 31, 2017 at 8:24 PM

    • “The future may very well be dystopian, but infrastructure won’t be the issue, except in areas deemed no go zones as they have no natural resources for the globalist class to care about.”

      There already is a place. It is referred to as Africa.

      “The bifurcation of China is a glimmer of the future.”

      Nothing new. Has happened more than once in that place.

      El Hombre

      May 31, 2017 at 10:26 PM

  4. I don’t think cost disease is the only cause of decaying infrastructure. North Carolina, which has the 2nd largest state-owned highway system in the country after Texas, literally has $2 billion with a “b” in liquid cash just sitting in its Highway Fund and Highway Trust Fund earning interest. The cash is committed to various highway projects but the DOT can’t seem to spend it as fast as it comes in. Interestingly, this problem seems to stem mostly from delays in the so-called Preconstruction phase of the project involving the design, purchase of right-of-way, environmental permitting, etc. The actual time spend building the roads or bridges or whatever is usually not that long and is much less variable.

    Jokah Macpherson

    May 31, 2017 at 9:05 PM

    • I dispute the premise.

      “Our Decaying Infrastructure” is the “crops rotting in the field” of public planning.

      We have had “our decaying infrastructure” since the the highway bill which was something like 300B under Bush. Then we had Porkulus and another few hundred billion. Some how things never seem to get better even though even with all the bonds and all the gas tax.

      Face it- some groups always want government spending since it is great to have a slush fund and put your name on stuff. And of course social engineering. These motives exist regardless of reality.

      North Carolina’s government exhibit commendable restraint in only funding actually necessary work. I am sure Cooper will soon reverse engines on that and open the spigot again.

      Lion o' the Turambar

      June 1, 2017 at 5:56 PM

      • Romney very very disappointed in Trump pulling out of globalist boondoggle ParisAccords. Man we dodged a bullet when Romney lost.

        Andrew E.

        June 1, 2017 at 7:47 PM

      • These are reasonable things to be concerned about but my point is that there’s a lot of cash committed to transportation that isn’t being spent. I don’t think $2 billion sitting in the bank collecting minimal interest does anyone any good, especially not those who stand to have it payed to them eventually. Transportation secretaries under both the McCrory and Cooper administrations have expressed concerns about this.

        Cooper can’t really do anything given the extent of the current Republican control of the NC General Assembly.

        Jokah Macpherson

        June 1, 2017 at 9:50 PM

      • “Cooper can’t really do anything given the extent of the current Republican control of the NC General Assembly.”

        And that is excellent.

        Lion o' the Turambar

        June 2, 2017 at 10:24 AM

  5. This must be a combination of overall dygenics and Leftist policies that raise the cost of employment (mandatory benefits, minimum wage requirements, and affirmative action). Obsessive regulations coupled with low quality human capital is exactly why these projects never get done well in third world countries, and the USA is gradually becoming a third world country so it is what we should expect.


    May 31, 2017 at 9:06 PM

    • I think this is closer to the truth. There’s also a Harrison Bergeron effect that the ruling Left of the last many decades is imposing on us deliberately. “All countries are equal don’t you know, and we’ll make damn sure of that.”

      Andrew E.

      May 31, 2017 at 9:52 PM

    • Been to Detroit?

      El Hombre

      May 31, 2017 at 10:49 PM

  6. Are the bridges really crumbling, or do the civil engineers just want more work? An actually crumbling bridge will kill people.

    On an unrelated note, paying people to play WoW is here, though probably the more traditional academics will manage to shut it down:


    May 31, 2017 at 9:29 PM

  7. Plausible that this may have contributed to the Roman Empire’s decline.


    May 31, 2017 at 9:31 PM

  8. Not too long ago, AGW tools were telling us how we shouldn’t be doing any of this stuff because we’ll all die of global warming/climate change

    El Hombre

    May 31, 2017 at 10:19 PM

  9. Soon we will have construction robots providing free manual labor, this cost disease will no longer be a problem. It should be noted that we are rapidly moving toward a post scarcity economy as proven by the great decoupling of wages and productivity. I may no longer be employed as an Accountant in the near future. The HR lady at my job is encouraging us to find work in the ‘gig economy’ after we lose our jobs. What will we do with all of our free time in the near future?


    May 31, 2017 at 10:21 PM

    • Soon we will have construction robots providing free manual labor, this cost disease will no longer be a problem.

      There will be plenty of fingers in the pie. Air is “free” but everything we do with it costs more and more.

      It should be noted that we are rapidly moving toward a post scarcity economy as proven by the great decoupling of wages and productivity

      The decoupling here is capital no longer needing to trade with labor. The robots can only make so much stuff at a finite rate; the womb will eventually overwhelm the robots, and the starving will continue apace.


      June 1, 2017 at 12:18 AM

    • Pauly, robots are gonna need repairs, capiche? And I’ve reading for years how in no time flat, robots are gonna replace people that do this (insert the latest thing here). Remember all the Popular Mechanics stuff? Yo, where is my flying car?

      El Hombre

      June 1, 2017 at 1:13 AM

    • People thought that with the advances in technology in the past 50 years, we’d all be working 10 hour work weeks by now. As it turns out, they just came up with more and more useless crap for us to do.

      Fact Checker

      June 1, 2017 at 9:36 AM

      • Well, this time it’s different. The transportation industry will soon start to use self driving vehicles, slowly but surely. Most office work can be easily automated with narrow artificial intelligence, kiosks will also replace many retail positions, etc. We will soon need a basic income. But with a world without work, how will humans find meaning? Even the rich seems to be busier than ever these days, and they can afford to not work. Will the government pay us to stay home and play WoW? Will humans feel useless, not being able to contribute to society?


        June 1, 2017 at 9:45 PM

      • Well, this time it’s different.

        No, it’s not. Thorstein Veblen discussed this back in 1899.

        Computers have made many things “free”, e.g. news. Work is made or found somewhere else. Few people do anything that is particularly productive or contributory as it is today. The little bit of marginal gain from robots et al is not going to change the balance.


        June 2, 2017 at 12:40 AM

  10. Lion,

    I posted this under your previous post:

    The decaying infrastructure in the US is really a state issue. Look at the map and the rankings. The Northeast is really, really bad. I am in the process of moving the family to the Midwest. We’ve gotten fed up.

    Re the rankings, the top 10 are almost entirely Red States. Hell, Texas and Tennessee are tied for 2nd and neither one has an income tax! Let’s face it, the Blue State Model sucks! It destroys everything!


    May 31, 2017 at 10:32 PM

    • Better gun laws out in the MW. Good for when the SHTF.


      June 1, 2017 at 12:31 AM

  11. You want cost disease, look into your local government corrections guard contracts. For many local governments law and justice services take up more than 75% of their budget. The more NAMS you have higher the price. The guards game the system to make sure they take home lots of overtime. Many make $200k or more. And the courts keep adding expensive new programs like the prison rape elimination act as if they were legislators.


    May 31, 2017 at 10:46 PM

    • “The guards game the system to make sure they take home lots of overtime. Many make $200k or more.”

      And don’t forget the lucrative side job of smuggling contraband inside.

      Two in the Bush

      June 1, 2017 at 12:43 AM

      • If a prison guard is making $200k a year, he wouldn’t risk that by smuggling contraband. Unless he’s stupid, I guess.


        June 1, 2017 at 11:37 AM

  12. drive on the FDR or any of the local highways. no money to fix potholes, it’s all going to welfare checks.


    May 31, 2017 at 11:21 PM

  13. Isn’t this “cost disease” issue really a matter of having to do infrastructure in much more densely populated areas compared to the past? Sure, building the Empire State Building may be cheaper in adjusted dollars compared to something new, but New York in the 1930’s was much less densely populated. It is simply easier to move men and equipment around in the past when all you had worry about was moving flat earth.


    June 1, 2017 at 12:45 AM

    • If everyone who needed to move aside were a god-fearing, tax-paying person loyal to the United States, this wouldn’t be an issue. It’s the quality of the people, not the quantity.

      The country, particularly the Blue states, are full of entitled, scheming foreigners, welfare mothers, and self-serving, elite SWPL types who don’t have to ride the train so would rather it weren’t upgraded.

      We moved to the Bay Area a little while back. Living here has opened my eyes to infrastructure problems, the low moral quality of immigrants generally, and the extreme selfishness and stupidity of liberal elites.


      June 1, 2017 at 11:32 AM

  14. An interesting subject worthy of detailed analysis. If only I had the time! You may know that people do studies of calculating how many man hours (for a man on average earnings) of labour it takes at any point in time to afford to buy various goods and services. Productivity improvements in the manufacturing sector have been vast. And they are under-recorded because the quality of goods produced has likewise increased enormously over time. In consequence prices of manufactured goods measured in man hours of work have collapsed over time, because of much lower unit production costs associated with investment in automation etc. The most obvious example is motor cars, which were unaffordable for the vast majority of people for many years after they first came to market. By contrast, vast increases in real wages over time have not resulted in any comparable price reductions for labour intensive services such as having your hair cut. So cost disease is not everywhere: if it were, we wouldn’t have had the enormous increases in general living standards over the past century. But as you say, it can be found in industries with any/all of the following characteristics: labour-intensive services, highly regulated, highly unionised and (perhaps, but certainly to a lesser degree) not subject to international trade and competition.

    The lioncub

    June 1, 2017 at 12:53 AM

  15. Ralph has a point. Welfare spending continually increases both in terms of dollars and in terms of fraction of government spending. It drives out all other spending, including defense and government funded research as well as infrastructure. The Great Society killed the space program, and while that was not the actual intent if was well-known that satisfying the demand of the leaders of the black underclass would kill it. There is no cure for this in a democratic society. Authoritarian societies can and do restrain entitlements.

    bob sykes

    June 1, 2017 at 6:51 AM

    • Is Japan an authoritarian state? I thought it was more like a parliamentary democracy. It’s just their culture that is authoritarian, and they don’t seem to have any of our problems, with welfare or immigrants.


      June 1, 2017 at 10:50 AM


    Off topic, but you’d like it. Naive SWPL WASPs are still sending their kids to high pressure cram schools that produce up to 40% (!!!) future drug/alcohol addicts. They *STILL* can’t figure out that everyone else is just cheating their way through the elite schools. They still think it’s their country, too.

    Guilt culture protestants not only take out their guilt on their own children, but they don’t understand how shame cultures run circles around them by networking and connections instead of an autistic obsession with good grades.

    Proles are happier largely just because a large share of the elites and aspiring elites are simply completely broken, mentally fried burnouts with no joy left in their souls. SWPLs are better off if the preppy subculture is excluded as being a particularly dysfunctional outlier.


    June 1, 2017 at 7:53 AM

    • SWPL Elites in America don’t even realize that they’re living in a sh!thole. I call it a cultural vacuum. America’s NAMs don’t create any culture and its high IQ demography only consume like parasites.

      If Alt-Right Richard Spencer made a comment about Québec being the most beautiful place in North America, and was saddened about a rising Muslim population in that part of the world — well, how is a place like California impressive, with its swarms of East Asian technocrats with a non-tradition of philosophical and civic engagement?

      If you invite a group of East Asians as talk show guests, what is there for them to talk about from a cultural progression?


      June 1, 2017 at 11:00 AM

    • Drug use? or Drug addiction? Maybe most of these SWPL kids just know how to have a good time without it ruining their lives.


      June 1, 2017 at 4:55 PM

      • How valuable are East Asians in America? Considering Asian elites have elicited almost no self actualizing achievements…


        June 1, 2017 at 7:37 PM

      • Ever attend one of those “Meetups” in your local city? 99% of organizers who run activity groups dealing with intellectual discourse are White. I’ve noticed East Asians run groups that involve superficial activities like eating out and outdoors.


        June 1, 2017 at 7:41 PM

    • Guilt culture protestants not only take out their guilt on their own children, but they don’t understand how shame cultures run circles around them by networking and connections instead of an autistic obsession with good grades.

      You don’t know anything about the North.

      Asians are the ones obsessed with good grades. Northeastern Protestants go into well-networked value transference fields. They will cram in private high school for to get into an elite college. But they are too knowledgeable to know grades aren’t enough. They have to do non-profit “internships” that will impress admissions, extra-curriculars to signal their Liberal bonafides, and the rest of the circus show unrelated to standardized tests.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      June 2, 2017 at 5:38 PM

  17. One more thing. It’s a kind of cultural capital “value transference” that allows for elite universities to be seen as the halls of prestige, instead of the vampires they are. Survival bias is in fact so widespread that most professions probably pay less than dropping out, flipping burgers, and investing well.


    June 1, 2017 at 7:56 AM

    • Let’s call it vampire transference. It’s just the natural order of things when you get a society such as ours. Elites in America will fight tooth n nail to ensure H1B immigrants from Asia will flow into the country like a runny faucet as a beta value creators


      June 2, 2017 at 9:53 AM

  18. but it is only the cost of SOME things that have gone up…the cost of many other things has gone done—electronics, food, clothing etc….one big reason for increasing costs is that certain cartels have gained greater control of the govt–the healthcare cartel, the housing cartel, education cartel, and increasing immigration is due to the corporate cartel…


    June 1, 2017 at 9:28 AM

  19. The real culprit is the Blue state gov’t in each of the states mentioned. They regulate small businesses out of the state, tax middle class workers out, spend all their taxes faster than they’re collected, on short-sighted programs like public worker pension plans.

    Then to “replace” the workers they’re constantly losing they welcome countless tax-cheating immigrants, which only makes things worse. This is clearly the culprit, since Red states do not have infrastructure problems, or at least not any that compare.

    For Blue states like Illinois, California, and New York it’s getting bad. They’re already eventually going to have to end COLA on their pensions, then start cutting their benefits. That could be many years out, if there’s no big economic troubles in the meantime. If there were a big decline in equity prices, then those pension plans would probably go bankrupt.


    June 1, 2017 at 10:41 AM

    • Dude. Much more fraud is done by native white population than immigrants. Last 20 – 30 years, biggest scandals like enron, worldcom, global crossing, Lehman brothers, ratings agencies marking crappie mbs as AAA rated. Mostly native whites. So fix that s $$$t before calling immigrants cheaters.


      June 1, 2017 at 5:04 PM

      • @ wt

        They are cheats. Down the road from me there’s like ten Asian restaurants, cash only. What’s that about? Are they too Asian to use Square, or the usual readers?

        They are cheating their taxes, just like you’d expect from people from corrupt societies. The sorry state of their home countries is yet more evidence.

        Sure, they’ll likely Americanize in a couple generations, but I don’t want to subsidize them in the meantime, just so I can have the pleasure of more turnips like you in the future.


        June 2, 2017 at 3:44 PM

      • Guido-owned restaurants are also like that.

      • Lowe. U think only immigrants cheat on taxes and not native people then I have a bridge to sell u.


        June 2, 2017 at 5:37 PM

    • They’re already eventually going to have to end COLA on their pensions, then start cutting their benefits.

      The state legislators did this in 2011 to the Florida state pension plan. Eliminated COLAs, increased vesting from six years to eight, raised full-retirement age from 62 to 65, capped max pension at $90K, eliminated spiking, and increased employee mandatory contribution from 0 to 3% of gross wage. Every year the Republican-dominated state legislature tries to kill the defined benefit pension plan or at least chip away at it. In FL, all state & county workers, teachers, and many city workers are mandatory participants in the FL state retirement system.

      E. Rekshun

      June 1, 2017 at 5:36 PM

      • @ E. Rekshun

        Last month they ended COLA for the Ohio teacher’s pension plan, as well. These sneaky cuts are inevitable in the big Blue states,. The cuts will be sneaky, but big, as will be the accompanying tax increases.

        Just a little while ago Gov. Brown approved some new auto taxes in CA, purportedly for infrastructure. But it’s really to prop up CalPERS, the slowly dying CA public pension system.

        And left-wingers should pray that Trump is great for the markets, all their effeminate wailing to the contrary. Because if he isn’t, and equities take a big dive, then pension plans like CalPERS are likely to lose so much value that they cannot make payments at all. That’s what I meant by going bankrupt.


        June 1, 2017 at 9:29 PM

  20. Crumbling infrastructure we can’t fix because it would mean cutting welfare payments?

    Thank you, Diversity!


    June 1, 2017 at 2:13 PM

  21. much of the cost disease is due to there being two forms of inflation: CPI, which is much lower than the inflation rate for B-C+ rated debt and real estate. If you double the annual rate of inflation from 3.5% to 7%, the empire state building costs $3 billion in 2016 dollars .

    grey enlightenment

    June 1, 2017 at 3:24 PM

    • The other thing to keep in mind is that overall GDP per capita has significantly outpaced inflation. So in the sense of a projects cost relative to GDP per capita we’re still vastly more able to afford these things than people in the past were.


      June 2, 2017 at 11:01 PM

  22. Some people like to call this “creative-destruction”. They are usually Ayn Rand Cult people. Don’t see the creative part there. Look at Haiti, Detroit, Zimbabwe, or Chiraq. After an Atom Bomb, Hiroshima is Today a beautiful and futuristic community. Robocop might not want to go to Detroit. They might not have an outlet for him to recharge there anymore.
    With “diversity”, you get diseased mudhole. Society is a Racial Construct.

    Joshua Sinistar

    June 1, 2017 at 4:45 PM

    • “Society is a Racial Construct.”

      Well done.

      Two in the Bush

      June 2, 2017 at 7:00 PM

  23. You guys are going to want to check out this page of this NeoGaf thread:

    I have never seen them so angry. They are un ironically saying that Trump supporters are worse than Hitler because Global Warming will end up killing more people than the Holocaust.

    Otis the Sweaty

    June 1, 2017 at 4:50 PM

    • Otis. You will be surprised to hear that this trump critic and his opponent Hillary supporter is fully behind him pulling out of Paris climate deal. Just because I didnt vote 4 him doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate his actions that I think are great.
      Btw, I also favor his approval of keystone project as well as starting Dakota pipeline.


      June 2, 2017 at 2:46 AM

  24. lion should do a post on the actual % of federal, state, and local government spending which is spent on welfare. many of his readers overestimate it. the payroll tax is regressive. so social security, medicare, and unemployment insurance should not be classed as welfare. cash handouts to the poors are negligible. that leaves food stamps and medicaid. the alternative to the former is what? starvation, malnutrition? the latter costs 2x what it would under a medicare for all scheme.

    the story that capital is taking a larger share of national income than it was is false when benefits are added to wages. why should employers have to pay for their employees’ health insurance? all employers should want single payer. it’s cheaper. their profits would increase ceteris paribus.

    but the US is government by organized moneyed interests. the health care lobby will spend more than the chamber of commerce.

    it should also be noted that the richer the country the higher its taxes with few minor exceptions. some think redistribution is immoral. but they can’t think that economic efficiency doesn’t require some redistribution. this is just a brute fact of economics. if the libertarians were serious they’d move to guatemala or myanmar. the two have the lowest tax burden in the world. but they’re not serious. they’re just silly little men.

    silly little man

    June 1, 2017 at 5:14 PM

    • 1) You are completely wrong about this cost. A typical welfare mom collects the equivalent of $40,000 to $50,000 a year in benefits. That’s WIC, AFDC, Section 8, etc.

      2) It does not matter what they pay in payroll taxes. They get all of it back plus more with the EITC.

      3) Benefits mean nothing. If you dropped your insurance, because you went on your spouse’s plan, does the company reimburse you with the cash value of the insurance? No. The “benefits” are just a tax imposed on companies that workers don’t see.


      June 2, 2017 at 7:57 AM

      • 1. what fraction of all governments’ budgets is it? the US safety net is a joke compared to that of other developed countries’. it’s not even close to a hammock.

        2. false! not even close to true. In 2015 it will provide an estimated $69 billion in benefits to 28 million recipients… In fiscal year 2015, federal payroll taxes generated $1.07 trillion…Total expenditures $3.90 trillion (requested)
        $3.688 trillion (actual)…

        3. your spouse’s employer is paying extra. if you’re employed, your employer is paying less. benefits mean something to an employer. they’re an expense.

        lion really needs to address these false talking points. they aren’t even close to true, but they support a malignant ideology.

        silly little man

        June 2, 2017 at 2:30 PM

      • Means adjusted programs are a trillion dollars a year across all levels of government. The fourth page of this link has the best breakdown that I can find. It’s worth keeping in mind that Medicaid is so expensive because the US spends 2.5 times as much per person on medical care as the average first world country. And contrary to what a lot of people want to believe the government run systems of Medicare and Medicaid are about as wasteful as the overall system.

        Click to access PA694.pdf

        I support more generous programs but I think we could do that and still lower the costs of these programs by stopping importing poor people, requiring recipients to go on long term birth control for as long as they’re on the program plus ~ 2 years, flattening the pre tax income distribution, and getting a sane health care system.


        June 2, 2017 at 11:14 PM

  25. It is popular to talk about decaying infrastructure, but there is absolutely no evidence that it is a real issue.

    My Two Cents

    June 1, 2017 at 8:00 PM

    • Yeah ignore those falling bridges and unpassable roads, cause they were made by magical space aliens to last forever and its all a Russian Internet Disinfo plot right? Have you seen Detroit? Half of it is now overgrown with vegetation and wild animals are living in Skyscrapers that cost Millions to build. This isn’t the result of some global catastrophe, its the stupid myth of egalitarianism pushed by liars who make money as poverty pimps because its a money pit that they never expect to get better. The Road to Hell isn’t paved with good intentions. Its paved with low expectations with liars who lie about it.

      Joshua Sinistar

      June 2, 2017 at 12:31 AM

  26. I’m reading an old book called Parkinson’s Law. The size of the administrative staff in any organization tends to increase with time, regardless of the amount of work that is necessary. It appears to be inevitable. This is why government also expands over time.


    June 2, 2017 at 8:08 AM

    • Not with SWPL oriented fields. They tend to contract, because of over saturation. Ever try getting a job as a museum administrator? There are less opportunities than let’s say 10 years ago. The same goes for academic departments.


      June 2, 2017 at 9:46 AM

      • The same goes for academic departments.

        But definitely not true of college administrators.


        June 4, 2017 at 2:20 AM

  27. Countries like Japan or Korea are taking care of their infrastructure very well. I think it is a sense of duty and just a cultural tendency to keep things clean, tidy and functioning. Not having too many people from other cultures helps.


    June 3, 2017 at 8:32 PM

  28. alarmist or not? the verdict is the warmists should’ve pled guilty when they had the chance in the oughts.

    1. sea level rise from 20,000 to 8,000 years ago was large. humanity survived.

    2. in 137 years sea level has risen by half the length of john holmes’s penis. call 911!

    the global warming thing shows how those who libertarians predict would be smart, are in fact often dumb and ovine.

    silly little man

    June 4, 2017 at 5:22 PM

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