Thursday, January 29, 2009
  Infrastructure

You really have to wonder why the Republican "party" is so determined to eliminate itself completely. First it votes enthusiastically for Shotgun Paulson's monstrous Hanukkah gift to his Jewish friends; then it votes against the smaller auto company bailout; now it votes 100% against the large and admittedly messy infrastructure package.

At least they're consistent. They want to give the entire economy to people who are already obscenely rich, and they want to get absolutely nothing in return for the gift. The Dems are less consistent. They voted for the original Hanukkah gift, but they have also voted (less than 100%) for the other two bailouts.

The Dems and Obama are somewhat closer to common sense.

Basic rule: If you must go into debt, use it for something meaningful and permanent, something that will improve life for your family and descendants. Buy a house for a reasonable price, buy an education. Don't use it to buy Hanukkah gifts, don't use it to impress your neighbors, don't spend it at the casino. The latest infrastructure package satisfies the basic rule. This money is mainly going toward permanent improvements in our national "house". And the brand-D politicians are on the common-sense side by supporting it. Brand-R is on the side of waste, dissipation and collapse.

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Polistra has been pushing for infrastructure funding from the start.

Here's a reprint of an April 2007 thought:

Maybe we'd do better to bring bureaucracy backward and away from technocracy. It would do a better job of serving the poor and elderly with a more human approach, and just might be more efficient in the ways that really matter.

Example: Until 1950 the Post Office delivered twice a day, and until 1970 it could find an address without any Zip Codes at all. You could send a letter to "March of Dimes, c/o Postmaster", and the local post office would know where to put it. Now we have to put 9-digit Zip Codes on letters; if I were to send a letter to my next-door neighbor, it would have to go to Seattle for sorting and return to Spokane. This is high-tech but it is NOT EFFICIENT. My home-town paper sometimes takes 18 days to reach me from Oklahoma, which is literally horse-and-buggy speed.

The overall point is this: Much of the technocracy was planned on the basis of ever-increasing population. Malthusian theories, implanted by the Left, led government to get ready for exponential increases. We haven't had exponential increases. America now has twice as many people as in 1940, not six times as many. Thus we could be delivering mail once a day with the same lo-tech and efficient system that delivered twice a day in 1940.

When our population starts to decrease, as many Euro countries are already seeing, we'll be stuck with a lot of systems planned for a non-existent future. Technology can help, but perhaps government can find a different niche, a more personalized way of doing things.

Another helpful backward move that requires considerable government action, though not strictly a gov't matter: Rejuvenate the railroads. We have allowed them to decline dangerously. Trains are hugely superior to trucks in energy usage, especially because trains can be switched to electric power. Even in America many railroads are already electrified, and the standard diesel locomotive would be easy to convert. There's no way to electrify long-distance trucks.

Rails are somewhat more secure than highways; though nothing is purely terrorist-proof, tracks have limited access by definition, and you can't steer a bomb-carrying train into a destination that isn't on the tracks. Also, building more trains - and building more nuclear reactors to power them - would be an excellent use for the dozens of automobile plants and thousands of workers now abandoned by Ford and GM. A competent wartime government would have started this process on 9/12/2001.

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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