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December 31st, 2008
Profiles from the Recession
[VIDEO] The Big Fix

The proposals are coming fast and furious from Washington: fix the economy and generate jobs by repairing and rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

In a Blueprint America special, David Brancaccio (NOW on PBS) interviews Nobel Laureate and The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman about President-elect Barack Obama’s proposed stimulus package — how government spending on infrastructure projects will impact America’s economy in these hard times.

The hour examines what policy makers and politicians in Washington, including incoming President-elect Barack Obama, mean when they say that rebuilding our crumbling highways and bridges, leaky water systems and other vital lifelines stimulates the economy and generates jobs. Will fixing our infrastructure save the economy? The Big Fix explores this very subject through a series of reports from NOW on PBS, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and New York Voices.

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  • Pavel

    I am happy only 6% of American have to use public transportation. The less the better. Public transportation promotes natural monopolies like MTA in NYC that exemplifies most dangerous traits of over-centralized, over-controlled communities: “Too big to fail” government-sponsored monopolies, calls for socialistic-type of control over executive compensation and abuses (that are made possible by very existence of monsters like MTA), more regulations, more taxes, less common sense, more inertia, cover-ups, un-shrinkable recurrent expenses. To summarize, more stealing of people’s money and liberties. Isn’t it what got us into this ongoing crisis? “Community reinvestment act”, promoting irresponsible behavior, cutting off small and family-size businesses. Any public transportation company soon becomes “authority” (Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Port Authority, you name it) encroaching on people’s land and liberty.

    Whoever disagrees — ever tried to sue such a behemoth for negatively affecting the value of your property?

    Or to receive any recourse from losing money because of unannounced “service change” by MTA?

    We need more fruitful environment for private entrepreneurship, not more of public transportation or whatever that directly suffocates any small business staying on its way and indirectly — any other small business (by grabbing private land, establishing its rules for land use, increasing taxes and unfair competition).

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  • ItsObvious

    Great report! But, the problems we are facing are a matter of cause and effect. And the cause is OVER POPULATION! The effects of over population will continue to cause all of the repercussions covered in your report until we face the reality that there are just too many people. All of the solutions that you covered will eventually become inadequate until we control our population growth.

    Please explain why over population was not mentioned when it is the basic issue here?

  • shonu pande

    65% of singapore’s population uses public transport, as opposed to 6.5% in the USA. yes i know singapore is a city state and the USA is not. but that cannot account for such a vast difference in use of public transport. my question for you, pavel, is does that make singapore socialist?

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  • Jeff

    Does USA need more airports and runways? You can build all the airports and runways, but you cannot build more airspace.

  • Brennan

    I know this is very unlikely to garnish a response, however I must make this point. Pavel, I would like to see evidence that back up all of your comments about public transport. I suspect that your comments are nothing more than narrow-minded theories.

    Have you ever considered that the land used by most public transport systems is actually government owned landed, not private land as you claim? Do you really justify CEOs taking millions of dollars in compensation for hiring other people to do all their work for them, while many people in this country are starving? Does limiting greed amount to socialism, or is it practising responsibility? Have you ever considered all the extra patronage that small businesses could benefit from if the public transport system is expanded? The cost of public transportation is far more stable than that of gas, so is more desirable for lower-income people; expanding the number of people this is available to can greatly increase the number of potential customers that businesses have. Have you ever considered that having more access to public transportation could increase the value of a property? Have you ever considered that greater regulation could prohibit such monopolies? Have you ever considered that greater regulations benefit the populace as a whole, especially in ensuring the safety of the public? Have you ever considered that the cost of lawyers, settlements and payments for damages could cost a business more than implementing regulations? Would you have objections to several private businesses operating public transportation services, or is your gripe only with government run agencies?

    I had been living in the United Kingdom for 7 years and the public transportation was amazing. Returning to America, I was astounded at how backwards and inadequate the public transportation system is in this country. We are supposed to be a superpower, yet we don’t even have decent public transportation services.

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    Gasoline here costs about 25% of what it costs in England. I too have lived in England. The goverment on the UK place incedibily high taxes on gasoline to drive the cost up, therefor increasing utulization of public transportation. Are you suggesting that we should do the same? The the costs of all that we buy will skyrocket, becuase most goods are deleivered by truck. You can not compare a city state such as singapore, or an island state such as the UK with the US. It just doesn’t work.

  • Shani Strothers

    OPEC’s opinion of US policies is inevitably made clear via the price of oil. Negative and positive reinforcement. Also, a proper tax system would have BIG OIL pay for public transportation out of their AMPLE profits!

    Overpopulation by unconsciously heavy resource consumers is the crux of the issue not overpopulation. My people consciously lived very lightly upon this wonderful land for millenia. As folks who live in ex, sub or even urbia, we must be prepared to be as self sufficient as possible… grow food wherever we are, grow our healing herbs whereever we are, be prepared to work from home and trade where we live. Hang our wet laundry on the line. Get a horse and a wagon.

    Get over xenophobic squeamishness on transit, the distain just might be two way. Is WAR for OIL the price to pay for fear of the other? If we right the wrongs, then there will be nothing to fear.

    I propose renewable energy to power mass transit and elevators in the inevitable high density high rises.

    I propose a BAN on all television shows & movies glorifying the car just like tobacco’s media ban.

    I propose to minimize highway expansion and use the right of ways for segregated pedestrians, cycles, scooters, HOV, hybrids, trucks, buses, heavy & light rail AND trolley buses. Park & Ride lots can gather enough pax to make mass transit efficient. Highways must not be used for individuals’ commute to work. Along with HOV lanes, Hybrid lanes with EZPass discounts would give incentive to reduce oil consumption, pollution and vehicle footprints.

    I like the Singapore intracity toll for non residents. Perhaps when a driver parks in a SHOPPING area and spends so much, their toll and parking fees can be refunded! Every business in order to get it’s business license must provide a parking plan for its employees, vendors and visitors.

    For those who live in single detached homes so the children can play, zoning for communal living will give the higher density. Zoning for all new MacMansions must require suites. Much like the Europen tenament, Native American Long House, Jamaican YARD or African COMPOUND.

    What took me off of my bike was having 4 children. If 20 years ago, I had had some sort of safe, lockable, lighted, sheltered, multimedia outfitted, HVAC’d tow trailer for the sleepyheads & a cooler for food, I would have stayed on my bike. Given our debt to China we may as well get rickshaws and call it quits. The question is who pulls and who rides?

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