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View Full Version : Is the USA becoming a 3rd world nation?



varadero
08-10-2010, 08:08 AM
It is being reported that certain areas of the USA are unable to pay for street lighting and basic road maintainance, It seems that the lack of funding from the federal GOVT, due to the emphasis on debt reduction and a reluctance to raise taxes on the very wealthy, means that paved roads are being returned to gravel as it is cheaper than maintaining them. The USA built the Hoover dam during the great depression, but cannot maintain basic infrastructure in this reccesion.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/09/opinion/09krugman.html?_r=2

C. Ross
08-10-2010, 08:28 AM
More twaddle from Krugman.

One would hope that he could get his story straight.

It's not about taxing the rich! Really? This piece says a teeny tax on the uber-rich is all that stands between us and prosperity!

The economic sky is falling! Really? In this piece we have all the wealth we need, we're just too timid and stupid to seize it!

Is he really the best thinker the left can offer? I hardly think so, but if you all want to keeping sucking the sour lemons of discontent plus sniping disappointment with President Obama, enjoy yourselves.

McMike
08-10-2010, 08:45 AM
It is true that certain very low population density rural areas are having trouble maintaining their paved roads, but it's also true that the stimulus bill has purchased more asphalt and cement in a year than any other program in the history of the United States. The money is not going into the conservative rural areas, the money is going where the need is for the ARRA signs to be seen by the most Democratic voters. And, of course, the money is going into the ARRA signs as well.

Would you want the money wasted on the least populated areas? I'd say putting it to use where it can do the most good is a good thing, no?

I do agree, while negligible, the signs are a waste of money, bad PR IMO.

skuthorp
08-10-2010, 09:09 AM
"You have nothing to fear but fear itself"
Applies in spades to the USA as long as the poisonous rivalry between the GOP and Dems doesn't derail the process. The hate being whipped up, and encouraged by a partisan press with no principles, could derail your recovery. Of course not being in an unwinnable assymetrical war and not spending so much on the military might help. A little less payola amongst your representatives might be a good idea too.
We have infrastructure problems too, century old wooden bridges, paved roads being returned to gravel, power lines old and dangerous so that faulty ones caused some of the fires that killed so many.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
08-10-2010, 09:09 AM
Europeans should be careful around this one.

To us, the USA looks un-loved, un-cared for, at the best of times. We live in small, densely populated countries that are therefore tidy.

The USA is huge and its inhabitants don't bother to clean and tidy land - they just use more of it.

The result is that, to a European or, still more so, a Japanese, the USA looks "third world" just because it is so messy.

The real state of the US economy may be quite different.

Jim Ledger
08-10-2010, 09:15 AM
Here we are in the middle of August, and I'm STILL waiting for the street sweeper to come down our road to remove the sand put down last WINTER. It's usually gone by the BEGINNING of August at the latest. And if that's not enough, the water pressure is low.

I, for one, certainly don't need a some kind of pie-chart or graph to know where this is heading. It'll be Jim riding on the roof of the bus with his crate of chickens before you know it.

David G
08-10-2010, 09:20 AM
You've got a crate of chickens????

Rich bastid!

Jim Ledger
08-10-2010, 09:24 AM
You've got a crate of chickens????

!

Well, some eggs, actually.

McMike
08-10-2010, 09:26 AM
Where did I say that the money should be "wasted" anywhere?

Road rebuilding has gotten enormously expensive, the price of asphalt has shot up so high that any number of "marginal" projects simply can't be justified anymore.

Michigan's an excellent example of what's happening across many parts of the country. We had, in the heyday sixties, the most miles of paved road of any state in the nation. Roads are built/maintained with gas tax dollars. But Federal gas tax dollars have to be matched at some level by state/local money, generally state gas tax dollars or local property tax dollars. If you've not raised the gas tax or the property tax in many years, or if gas consumption or local property values have fallen dramatically, you can't afford to get the matching Federal dollars. My property taxes have fallen for the last two years, simply because my property value has fallen, not because I've voted for them to fall. But, given the miles I drive annually, I'm doing my part on the gas tax.

This topic has absolutely nothing to do with "taxing the rich" and everything to do with the unwillingness of John Q public to pay their fair share at the state/local level for the roads they use every day.

Fair enough and agreed.

OconeePirate
08-10-2010, 10:13 AM
More roads need to be returned to gravel, slow some folks down.

I still remember when Lamar Co. decided to sneak in the middle of the night and pave Silver Dollar Rd. on me. Coming from the side road (a fire cut really) that was still dirt, threw the TR6 into a beautiful drift sideways right before the intersection, and THWAMP! Got traction where there wasn't supposed to be traction. Almost went over.

Seriously though. What would scare me, in cases where infrastructure money really is scarce, would be municipalities spending money on keeping roads pretty to keep folks from complaining when they need to be spending money on repairing bridges, dams, old underground plumbing, etc..

Here (Milledgeville) we have troubles with the water pipes. The city doesn't even send someone out to deal with it until it starts to form a sink hole or in some other way damage the street. If you drive around on a dry day you'll see little cracks with water bubbling up all over. We had a leak just before our meter in the front yard. I reported it to the city, pointed it out to the meter reader, pointed it out to a crew down the street one day. It took about a year for them to fix it.

The city is currently repaving all the sidewalks downtown to make them pretty and "bring more business to downtown." I have no clue how much that is costing but it is a huge undertaking. As a downtown merchant I can tell them that if they want more business downtown they need to do two things, find someplace for people to park and relax some of the historic district ordinances.

Phillip Allen
08-10-2010, 10:41 AM
wanna make millions?
go into the "country" and buy cheap land. Now have the roads paved and develope the land for McMansions...

of course only "one" political paarty would do this

Cuyahoga Chuck
08-10-2010, 10:43 AM
It is being reported that certain areas of the USA are unable to pay for street lighting and basic road maintainance, It seems that the lack of funding from the federal GOVT, due to the emphasis on debt reduction and a reluctance to raise taxes on the very wealthy, means that paved roads are being returned to gravel as it is cheaper than maintaining them. The USA built the Hoover dam during the great depression, but cannot maintain basic infrastructure in this reccesion.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/09/opinion/09krugman.html?_r=2

Unfortunately Sen'or, your view is obscured because you live on a very tiny bit of land. The US is, physically, very large and in my places the population is not big enough or wealthy enough to maintain all the infrastructure that one would find in a large urban area. It is not that their infrastucture will never be reconstituted again but that projects must be delayed or services curtailed so as not to go too deeply in debt.
The financial position of the United States is such that we will be blithy sailing along watching as the hard pressed Spanish government starts closing in on all the tax cheats reported to be living in the Islas Baleares.
Rozumis'?

David G
08-10-2010, 11:02 AM
One falls to the temptation to remind you of some of your petulance towards thread drift on threads you've started.

Touche'

I have no doubt that the phenonemon.Mr. Krugman mentions is occurring. I'm not sure it's as rampant as he implies.

To the extent that it is occurring - I think it is a symptom of our demographic football becoming a dogbone. That it to say, our large middle class being squoze into one end or the other of the income distribution.

To use my own metro area as an example, I can assure you that the richer neighborhoods and suburbs are having no infrastructure issues. Roads are being perfectly maintained and improved. Schools are winning national awards. There are no burnt out streetlights left dark. Etc. Increasingly, the same does not hold true for the less wealthy areas. This has always been true to some degree. By my observation... it's getting more pronounced.

Gerarddm
08-10-2010, 11:14 AM
Parts of the US have always been third world. Bobby Kennedy was horrified touring Mississippi and Appalachia and discovering same.

It is a wonder to me how those who scream they have been Taxed Enough Already continue to decry taxation, and then turn around and grumble that 'gub'mint' ain't keepin' the lights on.

Dane Allen
08-10-2010, 11:20 AM
I think the point that has been missed is that we need to depend on the federal government at all. Instead of sending our taxes to our local areas of needs the fed siphons the bulk of our wealth and then proceeds to waste it. The people that complain about sky high taxes and then complain about the fed not keeping the lights on are making the same argument, that the fed is taking all our money and not giving anything back.

LeeG
08-10-2010, 11:20 AM
Roads are built/maintained with gas tax dollars. But Federal gas tax dollars have to be matched at some level by state/local money, generally state gas tax dollars or local property tax dollars. If you've not raised the gas tax or the property tax in many years, or if gas consumption or local property values have fallen dramatically, you can't afford to get the matching Federal dollars.

America wants a free lunch, lowest gasoline taxes with up to date infrastructure. As a percentage fed and state taxes are lower than they were before the first gas crisis. Repeated attempts to raise gas taxes have been shot down.

Kaa
08-10-2010, 11:21 AM
It is a wonder to me how those who scream they have been Taxed Enough Already continue to decry taxation, and then turn around and grumble that 'gub'mint' ain't keepin' the lights on.

Y'know, it's not only how much money the government collects and spends. It's also what does it actually spend it on.

Kaa

LeeG
08-10-2010, 11:30 AM
Y'know, it's not only how much money the government collects and spends. It's also what does it actually spend it on.

Kaa

it's pretty clear what fed gasoline taxes get spent on.

Chris Coose
08-10-2010, 11:34 AM
We are 4th world and it is the crush in public education that'll dig us even deeper.
As Norm said, "This calls for further tax cuts!!"

LeeG
08-10-2010, 11:36 AM
We are 4th world and it is the crush in public education that'll dig us even deeper.
As Norm said, "This calls for further tax cuts!!"

Like the Dick Cheney said, "it's our time"

LeeG
08-10-2010, 11:46 AM
BlackJackfauxrealist: the tax cuts during a time of war were real, what Biden said is rhetoric. Understand the difference?

Jim Ledger
08-10-2010, 11:56 AM
Yes. It is striking, however, to drive through Tennessee and see the dramatic changes in the quality of the road system and the money that's been poured into connecting the rural areas with excellent roads leading to excellent divided highways, then drive home to Michigan. It's also interesting to see the folks in Tennessee near the border of Kentucky/Tennessee drive over that excellent road system to shop in Kentucky to save money. I'm sure there are numerous other areas where a decisive effort to improve highway system infrastructure has paid off in attracting new business, especially distribution systems.

Kentucky? Tennessee? Come to New York City and Long Island if you want to see good roads. I don't like to brag, but it's hard to be humble when you travel daily on some of the finest highway infrastructure in the world.

OconeePirate
08-10-2010, 11:59 AM
wanna make millions?
go into the "country" and buy cheap land. Now have the roads paved and develope the land for McMansions...

of course only "one" political paarty would do this


That's actually pretty much exactly what happened to the road I mentioned above. It used to be nothing but old farm shacks and such out there. Now there is a row of McMansions. They paved the road that our family farm is on, but for some reason they stopped at our property line. Not that anyone minds, but I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall at that county meeting.

Phillip Allen
08-10-2010, 12:22 PM
That's actually pretty much exactly what happened to the road I mentioned above. It used to be nothing but old farm shacks and such out there. Now there is a row of McMansions. They paved the road that our family farm is on, but for some reason they stopped at our property line. Not that anyone minds, but I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall at that county meeting.

another way it works (for the inhancement of revenue) is to go ito a small rural community, pave the rodes then hike their taxes because the land is now worth more

LeeG
08-10-2010, 12:23 PM
I'm going to take this thread on a tangent. Matt Simmons died last Sunday. He has been a passionate advocate popularizing peak oil data. Maybe someone can find a connection between his thoughts on the cost of maintaining a particular level of growth when petrol supplies are no longer growing and our maintaining highway infrastructure when revenues are falling.

http://www.theoildrum.com/files/Simmons%20-%20Trust%20but%20Verify.png
http://www.theoildrum.com/files/Simmons%20-Discoveries%20by%20Decade.png

Cuyahoga Chuck
08-10-2010, 12:28 PM
I think the point that has been missed is that we need to depend on the federal government at all. Instead of sending our taxes to our local areas of needs the fed siphons the bulk of our wealth and then proceeds to waste it. The people that complain about sky high taxes and then complain about the fed not keeping the lights on are making the same argument, that the fed is taking all our money and not giving anything back.

California's problems are not Ohio's problems or most other states for that matter. With the freewheeling ability to bypass the Cal legislature by ballot initiative California has amassed a body of hurtful laws that take no notice of the state's varying fiscal fortunes. Craziness like Warren Buffet paying less real estate tax on his Malibu mansion that overlooks the Pacific Ocean than he does on his residence in Omaha Nebraska shouldn't occure. California is a rich state where the tax take is held down by laws derived from ballot propositions.
If California citizens think they will ever get a bigger return on what they pay to the federal government they are dreaming. Cal's fortunes will only get better when they arrive at a method of taxing the enormous amount of wealth that exists within the state without having the legs cut out from under the treasury by some pied piper with a slick sounding ballot proposition.

John Smith
08-10-2010, 01:02 PM
More twaddle from Krugman.

One would hope that he could get his story straight.

It's not about taxing the rich! Really? This piece says a teeny tax on the uber-rich is all that stands between us and prosperity!

The economic sky is falling! Really? In this piece we have all the wealth we need, we're just too timid and stupid to seize it!

Is he really the best thinker the left can offer? I hardly think so, but if you all want to keeping sucking the sour lemons of discontent plus sniping disappointment with President Obama, enjoy yourselves.
I don't see what the problem is. The Bush tax cuts were put in place to create jobs and stimulate the economy. They've been in place for ten years, so our economy must be great. Unemployment must be non existent.

What am I missing? This is more than just the Bush tax cuts, the Medicare prescription program, and two wars not being paid for. This is the Flint, Michigan of "Roger and Me" being repeated again and again for decades.

Export the good jobs, cut income for all levels of government, and this is what we get.

Frankly, I don't know how one manages to get good paying jobs back in the USA in any substantial number without getting health care out of the cost of doing business.

John Smith
08-10-2010, 01:10 PM
Unfortunately Sen'or, your view is obscured because you live on a very tiny bit of land. The US is, physically, very large and in my places the population is not big enough or wealthy enough to maintain all the infrastructure that one would find in a large urban area. It is not that their infrastucture will never be reconstituted again but that projects must be delayed or services curtailed so as not to go too deeply in debt.
The financial position of the United States is such that we will be blithy sailing along watching as the hard pressed Spanish government starts closing in on all the tax cheats reported to be living in the Islas Baleares.
Rozumis'?

A lot of this debate, not necessary your part, is BS. I remember a discussion years ago on NYC's subways. One guy, whose name is long forgotten to me, pointed out rather bluntly that money had been set aside every year for maintaining that system. The BIG money was spent building it. Where'd the maintenance money go?

You could ask that question about our bridges and such. The big money was spent building them.

My answer is that politicians are only here for a while. This encourages them to make decisions that make them look good in the present, and pass problems down the road to future people who sit in their seat.


The major problem, however, IMO, is the decades of outsourcing jobs that paid well, and hurting all levels of government income.

John Smith
08-10-2010, 01:12 PM
I think the point that has been missed is that we need to depend on the federal government at all. Instead of sending our taxes to our local areas of needs the fed siphons the bulk of our wealth and then proceeds to waste it. The people that complain about sky high taxes and then complain about the fed not keeping the lights on are making the same argument, that the fed is taking all our money and not giving anything back.

I'm not sure the complaint is that the feds aren't keeping the lights on. The complaint is that we are unable to maintain the standard of living that we've come to enjoy. We are in a hole we cannot dig out of, and it's a hole that's been decades in the digging.

htom
08-10-2010, 07:45 PM
Both Eagan MN (recently selected as 15th best city in the USA to live by Money magazine) and Dakota County MN, where I live, are cutting back on planned future road work. We're doing a bunch of it this year, due to money from the feds, but over the next ten years it looks like there will be a lot of not-best maintaining being done.

WX
08-10-2010, 08:18 PM
A very well travelled friend of mine once described the USA as a third world country with a lot of money.