Thursday, January 22, 2015

Quote of the Day: Why Progressives are idiots

I am always amazed that supporters of such [mass] transit projects call light rail projects "sustainable".  Forget for a minute that they seldom use less energy per passenger mile than driving.   Think about all the resources that go into them.  This at first seems like a hard problem -- how do we account for all the resources that go into transit vs. go into driving.  But then we realize it is actually easy, because we have a simple tool for valuing resource inputs:  price.  Prices are a great miracle.  They provide us with a sort of weighted average of the value and scarcity of the resources (both hard, like titanium, and soft, like labor and innovation) that go into a product.  So if light rail costs 10x or more per passenger mile than driving, as it often does, this means that it uses ten times the value of resource inputs as driving.  This is sustainable?  I do not think that word means what you think it means.
The mystery of the situation, of course, is why these people think that they are smarter than you and I.  RTWT, which is actually much more brutal than I am towards Progressives.


R.K. Brumbelow said...

Whoa there: "So if light rail costs 10x or more per passenger mile than driving, as it often does, this means that it uses ten times the value of resource inputs as driving"

No, it does not mean this.

Were everything equal, yes it might. However, the price of something only determines what a community is willing to pay for something. If, for example, San Francisco decided that an open bowl of Fruit Loops(tm) should be provided on every public transport vehicle and that $10 will will be paid for every box, does that mean $10 in additional resources are utilized?

No, it means the Frisco Area Rapid Transit System is passing out Rainbows.

$10 in potential resources are used. Potential != actual however.

Send in a private company, required to have a 0 net budget and no public assistance and yet maintain the same routes/ availability and you will find out what resources it really takes to run a system.

There is fat in the system inherited from the fact that governments are generally less efficient than companies, mandated contracts less than open ones, unions less than free market, taxes less than out of pocket.

Archer said...

My favorite sentence: "And please do not tell me that as a highway driver, investments in transit are doing me a favor by getting cars off the road."

Word. In my experience, the vast majority of transit users are people who don't own a car, can't own a car (for legal or medical disabilities, or financial reasons), and/or won't own a car (for practical or ideological reasons) in the first place.

The existence of transit doesn't get these people "off the road"; they weren't there to begin with.

Goober said...

Warren is infused with smart.

I do agree with some of the nitpicking of his analysis, though, in that he's comparing private sector $ with public $ and that doesn't work.

Don't believe me?

I'll work up a budget for a building - any building. It's what i do for a living.

Seems recently I've come into some extra time, since I lost my job due to health problems in December.

I'll take that building, work it up for a public project, and then work it up for a private project.

Costs for additional red tape, bureaucracy, prevailing wages, etc.

JUST TO BUILD THE BUILDING, you're looking at 30%, minimum. So a 1 million dollar building in the private sector would be 1.3 million, MINIMUM, in the public sector.

THAT'S JUST TO BUILD IT. FOrget about operating it.

Warren's analysis doesn't really account for the parasitic loss of transit being a public institution.

Still, it's a good start, and I agree with what he's saying. Most of these "streetcar, light rail" type projects are very much SWPL and not really practical, with few exceptions, such as very high density cities like New York.

In Phoenix, where he lives?

They are an abomination.

Jerry The Geek said...

Am I the only one who doesn't 'get' the logic in the last two comments?

Or did they (mercifully) reduce the logic to the Lowest Common Demoninator .. without the denominator having been defined?

Or am I just to jaded to do the math .. which isn't available?