Diary

Don't fall for "Infrastructure" spending

I am probably preaching to the choir here, but this election is going to head towards economic issues, and that will be the big issue after Hillary’s inauguration.  There will be a lot of wheeling and dealing over what projects are funded and which ones are not.  The big push will be Infrastructure spending, and how we need to develop the backbone for the 21st century economy.  We need to update our roads and bridges, improve our Electricity Transmission lines, and build a better internet backbone.  Let’s take these one at a time

Roads and Bridges: Remember how the Interstate Highway system launched America forward?  It was a bipartisan highway plan launched by Eisenhower and transformed the nation.  However, please also remember the reason we stopped earmarks was the infamous “bridge to nowhere.”  Let me ask you – do you really think the world would change if everywhere we had an Interstate we added another?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.  We are at a point where the Interstates, Federal Highways, and so on can be handed back to the states and Federal funding stopped altogether.  This way TX gets to decide whether to expand the loop around Houston, and VA and MD can decide together whether to do the same thing around DC.  I personally would prefer if bridges where I lived did not require approval from the Senator from California before they are repaired.

Electricity Transmission: Well kept secret, but electricity use in the US has been flat since ~2000.  Electricity per capita has been falling for about as long.  We really don’t need new transmission lines, yes some upgrades, but it is not as if a new series of high voltage lines will cause everyone to go blast their air conditioners, turn on their fans, and open their windows.  The transmission backbone is built and while certain areas need upgrades, and while perhaps better interconnection between regions might be beneficial this is more along the lines of optimization than it is about new capabilities.

Internet: Regulators and funding are too slow in general and so would fund 2012’s perfect system to be built in 2020.  Then they would design it to be secure by 2012’s standards and write all those into the regulations so ever hacker in the world could see the exact security protocols.  And they would be set by law immutable to change.  Fantastic.  Or we could back off and allow 5G networks to be built over the next 5 years which will deliver ~10x speed and ~10x data over 4G systems.  So, 100GB/month at 100 MB/s for $50/line.  In other words, enough data to stream a couple hours HD per day all month.  That is already coming if we just back off.

Other:  The rest of the pile will be some stupid stuff like high speed rail, federally funded EV charging stations, and other bit markets.  On top of that we will get a few other pet projects like a new US Curling Hall of Fame.  Oh yeah, and regulations.  Lots and lots of regulations.

Conclusion:  Don’t fall for it.  As the demands for “stimulus” rise call your Congressman and tell him you really don’t want to pay for a high speed rail project in the California desert, and you don’t want an internet managed by the good folks at the IRS.  Stimulus – bad under Bush, bad under Obama, and will be bad again under Clinton.