All posts by Nick Zaiac

Who Will Build the Roads? Soon, Not the US Government

A generation or two into the future, people will look back on the 21st century in amazement that nearly every piece of transportation infrastructure in the United States was once owned by the government.

The nation’s roads, airports, seaports and mass transit systems are almost all currently under the stewardship of a federal, state or local body. But as maintenance costs balloon and systems deteriorate, money to pay for the ongoing costs of infrastructure remain scarce.

Faced with the prospect of cutting costs elsewhere to pay for road repairs or upgrades to port facilities, cities and states are more and more deciding that the private sector has a role to play in transportation.

This also according to eminent infrastructure economist Robert Poole at the Reason Foundation. He has been writing on infrastructure privatization for decades, including a monthly newsletter that documents developments in the world of private infrastructure, as well as the growing trend against government monopoly in infrastructure.

Today, there are more miles of private, tolled interstate lanes being built than at any time in history. Meanwhile, the commercialization of the federally run air traffic control system could very well happen this year.

Read the full article at the PanAm Post.

Puerto Rico Lurches Toward Default with No Solution in Sight

This must have been what Robinson Crusoe felt like.

Tossed upon an unknown shore in a storm, waking up to find an empty ship stuck on a reef in the Caribbean and then scrambling to salvage every little resource. Rebuilding your existence is easier when you’re not starting from nothing.

The Puerto Rican government stands amid a similar perfect storm. Monday, May 2 was the due date for the island to choose between either paying off or defaulting on debt it owed to creditors, but the territory’s Government Development Bank couldn’t make it happen.

Now, it’s going to be difficult for other territorial agencies to borrow in the short term — from the sewer agency that needs money for repairing leaky pipes to the highway agency borrowing for unexpected road work.

The May deadline for Congressional action to relieve the territory has come and gone with barely an acknowledging gesture. The population continues to fall as the productive members of society trade San Juan for New York, Miami and Washington. Nothing suggests the territory’s flagging economy will recover any time soon.

And so we creep closer to oblivion, day by day. New deals with creditors emerge and falter at an increasing pace. Officials tinkers with “essential” programs they deem deserving of the island’s remaining money, while everything else is considered a possible sacrifice.

In Puerto Rico, nobody is innocent from blame for the collapse, but you can’t point a finger at a single individual. From the outside looking in, the hope is the island’s problems might be quarantined.

Read the full article at the PanAm Post

Fixing Public Policy for the Millennial Generation

It’s time to take a cold, hard look at the failures of the 20th century’s public policy decisions.

The War on Drugs has failed. Public education, especially in cities, is a mess. The welfare bureaucracy has grown out of control and the debt pile it fuels shows no sign of shrinking. We need an immigration system that lets the world’s best and brightest stay here after getting their college degrees. These are not radical statements in Washington anymore. The damage from outdated laws and the political economy that produced them compounds every year.

Faced with a mountain of debt, cities, states and the federal government will seek new ways to generate the growth and prosperity they need to keep the lights on. This means free-market reform that improves the business climate and better provides existing services.

Read the rest on the PamAm Post, here.