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Old 11-21-2008, 02:32 PM   #155
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With all due respect, Roger, everything is about market forces. The answer to the roads/public transit question is simple. Eliminate external costs. Fuel taxes should be set at levels where the taxes fully support infrastructure costs. Fuel taxes do create a huge amount of revenue for the public road and bridge infrastructure... and, in fact, in some states (like Maryland) the transportation trust fund is routinely raided by the legislature to pay for nontransportation line items.

If the cost at fuel at the pump reflected the real cost of driving, then the market would function far better. As for public transit, it is far more efficient to simply give the poor money than to build elaborate transportation systems. If ridership cannot support a form of transportation, it should not exist. Again, Roger, the government is not smarter than markets. It is not now nor will it ever be. Once government takes decision making power out of the hands of individuals and invests it in bureaucrats, urban planners, transit manager, etc., individuals are denied the fundamental economic freedom of choice... these same individuals are forced to pay for these decisions via taxation.

The goal for a market economy should be efficient markets. Capturing external costs is a critical component of this. If done correctly, this can still allow individuals to make choices... rather than coercing them into the behavior you think is better for society as a whole. If you want to use the Salem Witch Trail analogy, Roger, for me riding a public transit bus is not unlike burning at the stake. I imagine Lazarus Long might feel the same way.
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Old 11-21-2008, 02:36 PM   #156
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Well Roger. You and I usually agree, but not this time. Oh, maybe a little bit.
First of all, no one is telling the truth about energy. There are a lot of special interests spouting their "The sky is falling" retoric. It isn't. If we could believe Al Gore, we would all be dead now. He predicted the end of the earth by now, ten years ago, due to global warming. Remember that???
The new oil field in North Dakota is proving to be HUGE!!! Has anyone told you that. http://www.nextenergynews.com/news1/...news2.13s.html
Do you know that the oil is already on line to our refineries?

On top of that we have HUGE coal and natural gas reserves here in our very own country. Add to that the huge off shore fields that we will now discover if the Dems don't reverse the legislation they just passed, and we could well be energy independant, very quickly.

Do you know how they classify our oil reserves? Well, if a field reaches a point where it is too expensive to retrieve the oil for what its worth, they classify it depleted. But when the price of oil goes up it becomes viable again to pump and is therefore placed back into the reserves.That's why the Arabs want to keep oil cheap. We can buy theirs cheaper than pump our own. It also stymies exploration and new production. There are HUGE oil deposits that have not been "Proven" and therefore cannot be included in our reserves.

We are extremely rich in coal. Okay, coal has been demonized by the environmental whackos. With the scrubbers we have today, coal can be burned with little polution. But of course we can't, because the public has been fed so much BS that they oppose it out of sheer ignorence.

We are rich in natural gas. Problem is we need to transport it somehow. Two new piplines were laid within a mile of our home in the last two years. It took years of lawsuits to accomplish this. Why, one group, the Sierra Club. The pipes are in now and completely out of sight

Minnesota is building Wind Generators very quickly. Problem. Environmental Whackos are preventing power companies from building high lines to carry the energy to where its needed. We have some of this going on in our very own township.

In summation, we are not running out of anything. We are being prevented from using our own natural resources, and being brow beaten into feeling guilty if we do. I for one do not.
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Old 11-21-2008, 03:23 PM   #157
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Well jim', there are 40,704 threads on the forum and let us BS'ers have a few of them. Otherwise, I'd be reading the NY Times and corrupting my mind, or what's left of it. Or, I could be reading about Goodyear Marathon tires and going crazy worrying about when they're going to explode or go look at my trailer and wait for filaform to show up. This, to me anyway, is fun. Yeh, I get my jollies in strange ways, but debating with someone who actually knows who Milton Friedman was is refreshing. Not everyone's cup of tea, certainly.

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Old 11-21-2008, 07:12 PM   #158
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Just one thought. If they licensed more cabs in Manhattan, nothing would move. Last time I was there last May, nothing much moved anyway on a weekday. Though, maybe more people would take the subway and maybe the 3rd Avenue subway, promised for more than 60 years, would actually be built.

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Old 11-21-2008, 07:48 PM   #159
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Well Roger. You and I usually agree, but not this time. Oh, maybe a little bit.
First of all, no one is telling the truth about energy. There are a lot of special interests spouting their "The sky is falling" retoric.

In summation, we are not running out of anything. We are being prevented from using our own natural resources, and being brow beaten into feeling guilty if we do. I for one do not.
I'm a skeptic. I don't believe anything I read, and only half of what I see. I demand proof, and don't get it very often.

My perspective is based on what I observe. While energy may remain plentiful, it is not going to be inexpensive any longer, even if the inflated cost of energy is merely from profiteering. Follow the money trail.

More importantly, though, we need to think about the legacy we're leaving the generations to follow. While energy may remain plentiful, the sources we have are not inexhaustible. Nor are they necessarily inexpensive. And we're beginning to better understand the impact to the environment of burning hydrocarbons on a scale not seen in human history. We're also learning how to clean the by products of dirty fuels.

The doctrine of Manifest Destiny told us that the continent and all it's resources were ours to conquer and use. We've done that. Now it's time to begin the conservation of the continent for those who follow us. We need to look at more elegant solutions to moving goods, services, and people than using 5,000 lb cars to move a person over some distance. There have got to be more efficient ways to do it that have a lower impact economically and environmentally. All I'm suggesting is that we redirect some of the money we're spending currently into more efficient modes of transport.

Hampstead38, I understand your economic argument about market forces shaping all facets of commerce, and I'd agree with that in an open economy. Transportation, however, is not an open market system. There are many factors driving it, but the problem is that there have never been attractive alternatives developed or offered to compete with the automobile and road system. Market forces (as well as social engineering issues) drove the development of the early railroads, but the oil and auto industries killed the railroads politically, they weren't killed economically in a free-market free-for-all.

Market forces didn't drive NASA, and market forces didn't drive the construction of the interstate highway system. Both of those were political decrees intended for social engineering without regard for cost. Much of our transportation policy today was set by government and where government funds were used to develop infrastructure, not from the free market determining the most efficient modes of transportation. Remember that for some fifty years, what was "Good for GM is good for the Country." I think we're coming to end of that doctrine. The Eisenhower National Defense Highway System was built ostensibly for being able to move military assets nationally during the Cold War. The Nike was the leading missile of the day. There wasn't a single underpass in the new highway system that could accommodate a Nike missile. Who really reaped the benefit of this new interstate highway system? Follow the money trail. Oh, it's convenient, and the population loved it, but who really gained the profits? What would our transportation look like today if the automobile was relegated to local transportation, and high-speed rail or some other transit system were developed for moving the bulk of our goods and services? What would the car industry and oil industries look like today?

Just thinking aloud.

Roger
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:08 PM   #160
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What was good for GM and the country (their bottom line)was to kill public transportation. In 1922 one in ten people owned cars, Alfred P. Sloan figured if GM could destroy public transportation ( street cars) they could sell autos to the other 90%. So who is coercing who into behavior that they think is better for society.Corporate profits trump any social concerns.The only way to change these companies behaviour is to legislate it. The reason they don't build small energy effecient cars in this country is because the profit per unit is so much smaller.
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:50 PM   #161
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The Eisenhower National Defense Highway System was built ostensibly for being able to move military assets nationally during the Cold War. The Nike was the leading missile of the day. There wasn't a single underpass in the new highway system that could accommodate a Nike missile. Roger
Actually, the Nike missiles were long and skinny-about 10 or 11' long and were a foot, or so, in diameter. Maybe you're thinking of the Atlas. It was about 10' in diameter as I recall. I think the Eisenhower theory was that men and machinery could be moved around w/out a lot of trouble.

The Nike missile system was originally built as an anti-aircraft weapons system. They were housed in silos in the ground and were basically ringing large cities. The first one was the Nike Ajax followed in 1958 w/ the Nike Hercules which was made to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles. The Nike Zeus, later renamed Spartan, came around in the late 60's. All of these things were installed in concrete silos and had a command center for 12 or 14 of these silo sights. These centers were manned 24 hours a day but the silos usually were not. If the need arose, a concrete and steel door would move off the underground silo and the missile would be launched.

Once the missiles were in the ground, there were not moved unless they were upgraded. The area south of Kansas City had a bunch of sites. They were identifed as a square chain link fenced area about 200' square w/ a gravel drive and a blue number such as D-13 on the fence. There are several of these sites w/ 15 miles of my house. I grew up around these things (I live across the road from a decommissioned command center now-KC 30, if you're interested) and it wasn't a big deal. If it got boring, we used to walk up to the wire and shake it really hard and then run. Usually, in about 20 minutes, a helicopter w/ armed air force APs would arrive. Great fun!

See: Microsoft TerraServer Imagery

The command center is about 1/4 mile south of where the E-W road curves S. It is the rectangular area just south of the trees. The buildings are to the west. I live just across the E-W road but the house wasn't there in1996.

Sorry about the lesson but it was pretty neat to be in the middle of all of this. It was not a big deal--just the air force and their missiles down the street. What could be neater?
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:56 PM   #162
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What was good for GM and the country (their bottom line)was to kill public transportation. In 1922 one in ten people owned cars, Alfred P. Sloan figured if GM could destroy public transportation ( street cars) they could sell autos to the other 90%. So who is coercing who into behavior that they think is better for society.Corporate profits trump any social concerns.The only way to change these companies behaviour is to legislate it. The reason they don't build small energy effecient cars in this country is because the profit per unit is so much smaller.

I would beg to differ, it's because the majority of people in America don't want the little tin cans.
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Old 11-21-2008, 09:15 PM   #163
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"The only way to change these companies behaviour is to legislate it."

Which is exactly what command economies attempt to do... and usually fail, but it certainly has not stopped the utopian socialists from trying.

The success of the car is not unlike the success of the Internet. Why has the Internet exploded? Because it is a user-driven experience. Unlike television or the movies, it is a decentralized, market driven universe where the user decides where to go. Like the Interstate Highway System it was originally built by government but become something entirely greater... but not because the government intended it to be so. Are you beginning to see the parallels? The success of the automobile was inevitable as compared to transit (despite the deeply romantic notion that we were already happier and life was better when we were riding street cars). Public transit is centralized, not decentralized. It is a command, not market, economy. The experience is top-down, not bottom up. It is driven by "someone else," not the user.

People who feel like Craftsman will continue to support the government regulating businesses, and all human activity, "for our own good." And these folks cannot blame individuals, so the fiction of evil corporations is used... as if corporations are operated by distant galactic overlords or robot masters. The real frustration for the utopian socialists is that people simply do not have the common courtesy to behave exactly as the socialists feel they should. We all do not ride public transit. We all do not pack brown bag lunches filled with organic soy snacks. We all do not live in walk-up flats in the inner city and send our children to substandard public schools. Why, some of us even dare to shop for groceries at places other than Whole Foods.

Please do not read this as a screed, but as tongue-in-cheek humor. As long as we retain a reasonable amount of economic freedom, I find these discussion interesting and entertaining rather than threatening. Unlike the doomsayers, I'm a human optimist. Personal freedom, and free markets, are too powerful of genies to be pushed back into the bottle. In long run, we will alll become more free and the world will be better for it.
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Old 11-21-2008, 09:33 PM   #164
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Greedom is good. whoops freudian slip? (I think I'll just leave that.) Freedom is good. Mass transportation kind of literally stinks if not downright dangerous, certainly inconvenient. I'm not taking my clothes off in line to board a plane either. That's why we bought the Airstream. And the Airstream needs a stout vehicle and we had to wait until fall even to get a medium sized engine and the big engines were just not offered in an SUV.

SUVs just as cross bicycles are a compromise of benefits and tradeoffs. It suits a particular set of needs. I'm not sad there is better performance and quality. There also is a compromise in purchase price. But I think it is a very worthy vehicle and we like it and we are not commuters. But when I do take the beast out I feel like slinking behind the wheel because of the prevailing attitudes.
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Old 11-21-2008, 09:55 PM   #165
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Greedom is good. whoops freudian slip? (I think I'll just leave that.) Freedom is good. Mass transportation kind of literally stinks if not downright dangerous, certainly inconvenient. I'm not taking my clothes off in line to board a plane either. That's why we bought the Airstream. And the Airstream needs a stout vehicle and we had to wait until fall even to get a medium sized engine and the big engines were just not offered in an SUV.

SUVs just as cross bicycles are a compromise of benefits and tradeoffs. It suits a particular set of needs. I'm not sad there is better performance and quality. There also is a compromise in purchase price. But I think it is a very worthy vehicle and we like it and we are not commuters. But when I do take the beast out I feel like slinking behind the wheel because of the prevailing attitudes.
Greed exists no matter what type of government a country has and history has shown us that greed is much more dangerous in communist gov's, socialist gov's, dictatorships and other forms of Utopia. It's much harder to control things where freedom exists.

Carol don't slink, be proud, give em da bird.
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Old 11-21-2008, 10:06 PM   #166
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Subsidies and the confusion of movin'

I've looked at considerable length for a coin slot in the stop sign in front of my house. It doesn't have one, and I'm at a total loss as to how it pays its own way. "Fuel taxes" is the argument, I suppose, but every time I see it up close, I'm either walking or on my bike.

It just gets worse when I think about the cross walk in front of my kids' school. No coin slot there either, so certainly that's a pedestrian construct, subsidized by fuel tax. And I'm allowed by law to drive an electric car or ride my bike to that school. So no, the roads to not totally pay their own way. They contribute to our economy, but they are not the only contributor, and they have an associated cost.

Never mind that the fuel tax does not adequately compensate for the lost property tax revenue of the extra lanes of highway. BNSF pays insurance, construction, maintenance, and real estate tax on their rights of way - and they're still the cheapest mode of transcontinental freight. They truly do pay their own way.

But the roads... I'll repeat the statement I posted earlier. When we don't have public transport, we are stating in very clear terms that it's OK to drive without insurance or without a license. We are very nearly saying it's OK to steal a car, because without one you'll almost certainly be at the lowest rung of the social and economic ladders. I don't think we should be saying these things.

Yes the law says otherwise, but the law also says to come to a complete stop at stop signs. And when I'm examining that sign for a coin slot, I don't see a lot of compliance.
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Old 11-21-2008, 10:17 PM   #167
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... Mass transportation kind of literally stinks if not downright dangerous, certainly inconvenient. ...
In some cases this is true, and the tremendous absence of it (public transit) is very high up among the reasons I moved away from Michigan.
But in many cases the description is really unfair. Two of the best vacations Mrs R & I have had have found us crossing the plains on Amtrak. Even in winter it was fantastic.
The Bay Area's BART, DC's Metro, the bus systems of Portland & Seattle (and rail between them) ... I've found them all to be clean and convenient. Even taking the South Shore Line into Chicago from South Bend beats driving in there 7/7 days (we were camped at Potato Creek St Pk at the time, and wanted to visit some museums).
For that matter, we regularly take our children downtown on our local bus service lest their heads get too big. Transit, like nature, is something I find myself adapting to. In a while, it becomes second nature, and the time spent waiting for a bus - and the time spent on it - is actually pretty good time with the kids. Conversation is unforced, unhurried, natural. Just like it was when my parents did that to me :-)
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Old 11-21-2008, 10:34 PM   #168
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Let me tell you about my Amtrak adventure! Train travel is cool especially if you have a compartment but at 1 in the morning we were awakened I had to get the then kiddies dressed by myself stuff together manhandle the luggage unboard the train walk down the snowy road alternating baggage and resteps, wait by the side of the hill for a freezing city bus with no heat or restroom to going round and round and round the mountains at 3 in the morning until we connected with another train that ran out of food and beverages and arrived in Chicago some 8 hours late. Sure that is extreme because of a derailment on the tracks but ask people on the nightmare cruises how they liked their trip.

I had to take two buses to school every day and then two buses and a train then walk a mile after school to get to my parent's business. I don't miss it. And talk about characters... Mass transit holds you hostage to unpleasant variables. We didn't even own a car for the logest time. Restaurants, doctor appointments, visits all taking the bus and trains. Walk to church and the stores.

Can't understand wanting more legislation and less choice. Nice feature to have the option of but runs in the red with your dollars too.
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