All posts by Nick Zaiac

openroad

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.

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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

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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.

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Regulating Concentrates Is Next Big Hurdle for Legal Marijuana

Times are changing in the world of American marijuana policy. The DEA recently announced it would consider rescheduling the drug over the summer. Later in the year, citizens in California, Nevada, Arizona, Maine and Massachusetts will vote on legalization measures.

Reasonable people expect at least three of the five to pass. Millions of new Americans, including the first residents east of the Mississippi river, will live in legalized states. These states will be tasked with creating new regulatory regimes that address topics ranging from scientific testing to advertising.

Read the rest on the PanAm Post, here.

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US Public Transport Is a Disaster, and Urban Planners Are to Blame

The story is old by now. Washington D.C. Metrorail users faced a nightmare in the wake of yet another fire on a train.

This came not long after the city inaugurated its first modern streetcar, a widely-panned 2.2 mile line which replicated a popular bus route at a vastly higher cost to taxpayers. The city wants to expand this streetcar, despite a real need for money to make its existing network of rail and bus services more reliable.

In terms of public transportation, American cities are plagued by a disease that touches nearly every aspect of their administration.

Read the rest on PanAm Post, here.