HAITI’S LAND CHANCE

The first draft of this Post was titled “Oh Haiti! How We Have Failed You.”

The first draft was also much longer but we added the references below to document US of A actions vis a vis Haiti since 1804.

Then something happened that has the potential to reverse 206 years of calmity.

Before we get to the good news, a few facts and a bit of background:

Haiti, the second European colony to stage a ‘successful’ revolution in the Western Hemisphere has been a pitiful economic, social and physical doormat of a nation-state for over two centuries.

Now, the planet is ending 150 years of glutenous resource Mass OverConsumption. This will leave Haiti – and other neglected and overpopulated nation-states – to compete with until-recently rich and powerful Regions for increasingly scarce and expensive resources, goods and services.

The data is crystal clear:

Haiti was a basket case BEFORE the January 2010 earthquake.

History is also crystal clear:

Haiti is a basket case because of the criminal acts of its ‘leaders’ and because leaders of other nation-states turned their back on the Haitian people. These ‘leaders’ have failed over and over to do the ethical thing as opposed to what would benefit them the most in the short term. They failed to deliver on their own promises. The US of A, the biggest, richest neighbor has been one of the worst offenders – intentionally and unintentionally. See “Why does Haiti suffer so much?” Elizabeth McAlister CNN 18 Jan 2010 and “Troubled History: Haiti and US” Vanessa Buschschluter BBC News 16 Jan 2010.

In the 60s National Geographic ran a story with a title something like “Haiti – West Africa in the West Indies.” Then and now, only in Africa and on scattered islands in the South Pacific can one find the poverty, depravation and intentional neglect of obligations comparable to that with which Haitians have suffered.

And then the earthquake…

Why does EMR care? He is embarrassed by the US of A’s record in Haiti. On what does he base this? He has been there AND he has read the history.

EMR was only there once, but what but what a trip and what a lasting impression! [For a recently updated sketch of the April 1968 trip see Attachment One.] Many who have visited Haiti and most who understand Haiti’s history have the similar reactions to the US of A’s role.

In the limited number of days the party spent in Haiti, EMR did not get far outside of Port-au-Prince on the ground. But the group had a Cessna 206 and plenty of fuel so coming and going from Puerto Rico they got a good look at the Countryside.

EMR has a 35 mm record of the settlement pattern – the charming architectural gems in the Urbanside and physical abuse of the environment in the Countryside. The appalling deforestation and erosion was evident in April of 1968. For the first time, it was easy for one trained in ecosystems to visualize how the glutenous appetite of the Roman Empire for wood, fuel, food and other resources had led to the deforestation and desertification of much of North Africa and the Middle East. It was spread out like a roadmap to Collapse on half of a potentially verdant Caribbean Island.

Haiti is not just an economic and social basket case. The citizens have been forced to mine the Natural Capital (aka, the environment) to survive and there is not much left. Google Earth confirms that in spite of best efforts, the trajectory has been down since 1968.

Of all the things that the US of A has done as a nation-state outside its borders, the treatment of the citizens of Haiti is what EMR is least proud of as a citizen. From 1804 on the US of A hardly ever did the right thing. In spite of millions of hours by thousands of well-intended volunteers, and the work of many Haitians – in the US of A and in their homeland, the wrongs of Agencies, Enterprises and Institutions has not been righted.

Every time another tragedy of governance surfaces, it dredges up memories of what the US of A has done: Sending in the military and promising to make things better but then not delivering.

Photos of Port-au-Prince in ruins hit EMR hard – like the photos of New Orleans after Katrina. Unlike New Orleans and the Louisiana low country, EMR had no role in analyzing or suggesting a way to avoid disaster. Until last month, EMR was not even aware that Port-au-Prince was near a earthquake fault. However, a lot of others did and they published warning after warning.

As we noted last month in an Email to the friend who was the pilot on the 1968 Haiti trip: “The news from Haiti is disturbing on many levels. In a way, it is Katrina all over again. With Haiti, it is empathy and outrage at incompetence but without the direct connection created by the effort to solve the problem.” See “Down Memory Lane with Katrina” 5 September 2005 and “A Second Stroll with Katrina” 4 September 2007.

Now the good news:

An item on CNN.com on 3 February – the lead was that the death toll from the earth quake was now over 200,000 – reported that Bill Clinton has been given an expanded role to oversee Haiti relief and rebuilding for the UN.

As readers of The Shape of the Future know, EMR is no fan of Bill Clinton’s administration vis a vis human settlement patterns and resource consumption. His administration looks good primarily for balancing the budget and in comparison to the administration the followed Clinton / Gore.

But there is more to this story that most know. Only recently did it become general knowledge that Bill and Hillary spent their honeymoon in Haiti in 1975. From the descriptions of their trip they must have had some of the same experiences that our party had in 1968. These experiences are also similar to what others have experienced. Further, the details of what Clinton tried to do in Haiti while president – although largely thwarted by the elephant clan – are encouraging.

The bottom line is Bill Clinton has a chance to do the right thing. There is no other person on the planet who has the experience, the stature and the connections to pull off setting Haiti on a sustainable trajectory.

Perhaps best of all, Bill does not need to be home at 6 because his wife wants to go to the Country club. She has more on her plate that any Secretary of State since Cordell Hull.

So many past failures in Haiti…

We have five little words for Clinton:

Do NOT screw up Bill.

You and you alone have the ability and the position to do the people of Haiti right. You have the power to eclipse thousands of broken promises and the billions of wasted dollars.

You can move beyond your and our collective prior transgressions and stand beside George W. And Abe L. as a president who did truly great things for the US of A. In this case – and in these times – it is perhaps more important to help others than to provide aid to the citizens of the US of A. Citizens of the US of A have, by-in-large, created the economic and environmental quagmire in which they now find themselves. “We have met the enemy…”

On a flatten but very bumpy earth, UN action that establishes a sustainable trajectory for Haiti may be the most important accomplishment that we can expect anywhere from anyone.

It is an accomplishment that can set the standard for not just UN aide but for self-help by citizens of the until-recently rich Regions.

Do NOT screw up Bill, with the planets resources dwindling, this is Haiti’s last chance.

And perhaps citizen’s last chance to understand the components of a sustainable trajectory for civilization.

EMR

ATTACHMENT ONE

May 1968 / Updated through January 2010

Haiti was impacted in diverse ways by the Castro’s Cuban revolution in 1959. By the mid 60s, Haiti was in desperate need of hard currency. The dictatorship of President for Life Francois Duvalier (Papa Doc) was getting more and more bad press. It was time for an image change. In the late 60s, Papa Doc acquiesced to the advice of his son-in-law who had recently returned from exile in France: He moved to lift restrictions on, and encourage expansion of, tourism.

A spruce up program was started, selected tour ships were allowed to dock, Air France started scheduled flights from Montreal, limited Pan Am service was reestablished.

In the late 60s EMR was working as a consulting planner for the Puerto Rican Planning Board and taking every opportunity available to learn about the Caribbean. Within weeks of an announcement in the San Juan Star that tourists could now visit in private airplanes he was on the way. EMR and two fellow planners, one with a commercial pilot’s licence, rented a Cessna 206 ( N4892F) and took off in April of 1968 for a few days in Port-au-Prince.

It turned out to be the most memorable and eventful of the score of similar trips the group took to islands in the Carribean. Between 1967 and 2000, EMR spent time on most of the islands between the Mona Passage and Tobago. What he learned in Haiti helped inform his travels, his work and his ownership or land in the Eastern Caribbean.

The flight from Puerto Rico to Haiti was uneventful but the appalling deforestation and erosion was evident from the time we crossed the Dominican Republic border.

The landing in Port-au-Prince WAS eventful.

Not having a map of the Region, we first approached the runway of what turned out to be a military airport east of Port-au-Prince’s commercial airport.

That brought frantic instructions from the control tower – which we had contacted upon entering Haitian airspace: “Do not try to land there, Areoport Francois Duvalier International is ahead of you several miles with the large white terminal building.” Later we recalled that expat rebels had tried to bomb the military airport with a World War II B-26 just weeks before. Good thing they did not have itchy fingers on the anti-aircraft guns.

On landing at the correct airport (now Areoport Toussaint Louverture International – in 1968, EVERYTHING was “Francois Duvalier …. something or other”) we found the Cessna’s landing wheel brakes were not working. After just barely getting off the main runway in time to avoid being run over the by-weekly DC-9 Air France flight, EMR jumped out of the plane on the taxiway and rode on the tail to keep the tail wheel on the ground so that the pilot could rev up the prop and use the rudder to steer the Cessna to a safe place to stop. More frantic instructions from the control tower. “Get back in the airplane! You are not allowed out of the airplane on the runways… Repeat …”

At the time we believed – and still do – that we were the first private plane to land in Haiti after years of prohibition against small aircraft. After an unauspicious opening act it was good that we had the telegram authorizing our entry form the Ministry of Tourism.

We were met on the tarmac by a young Haitian Air Force Lieutenant who was assigned as our guide and chaperon. He also had a copy of the telegram and after looking at our passports, waived further processing. Well spoken and polite, he quickly figured out that the five adults and two children dressed in baggy shorts and armed with cameras were not be a threat to national security.

Five adults and two children under six years old in a six passenger plane? One of Jim Bacon’s Nanny State social workers would see cause to take children out of a household if parents exposed children to such dangers. The two children turned out to be a passport to places not otherwise open to visitors.

The Lieutenant arranged for an ‘agent’ (“Cowboy”) to oversee getting the brakes fixed, filling the tanks with fuel and guarding Cessna during our visit. Cowboy was armed – as were many “officials” we encountered – with a well worn pearl handled Colt 45. The guard slept at night under the tail of the plane during our stay. When we returned to the airport the gas tanks were full and the brakes seemed to work.

Who in their right mind would get in a plane and fry over mountains and open ocean following an aircraft maintenance procedure such as that? That is another story.

Our chaperon also arranged for a driver and car. The drivers name was Francois, of course. The Lieutenant was to accompany us on our travels but the seven of us left no room in Francois’ old four door sedan so the Lieutenant, having assured himself we were not a threat took some time off.

We saw all the places tourist’s usually visited and a lot more. As we would drive from site to site we would see something of interest. Often Francois would caution against going there. We almost always ignored his advice and scored a number of interesting encounters. A dramatic but peaceful encounter with the Ton Ton Macoute in charge of the charcoal dock for example. We took long walks down streets lined with trees and delightful architecture and full of people but devoid of cars. Later we found the same person showing up in picture after picture – apparently the Lieutenant was not the only one paid to keep track of our activities.

We had read “The Ugly American” before moving to Puerto Rico and did our best to avoid the tourist stereotype. Graham Greene’s “The Comedians” was recently published and a topic of discussion in Haiti. Following our visit we read Haitian history and still do from time to time – most recently “Haiti 1959: The Year That Changed Everything” (2007)

The party stayed at the Hotel Plaza, visited Hotel Olafson and passed by Hotel Montana. Hotel Montana has been the subject of much press after the quake because so much (too much?) of the international rescue effort was focused on rescuing expats at the hotel. In 1968 the Olafson was THE place as it was when Graham Greene stayed there in 1956 while Hotel Montana was still just a curiosity – a place called “Montana” in Haiti?!

We also had a reliable source to provide accurate data on the level of poverty, depravation and corruption. This is complicated so follow carefully: The pilots wife’s sister had a college roommate who married a senior staffer at Care. Somehow we made contact and got their perspective on Haiti. The Care staffer’s name was Van Damme according to a notation on a 35 mm slide. He was, as you might guess Dutch, Americans were not trusted in Haiti even in aide jobs.

For a dirt poor urban Region, the streets were remarkably clean. There was no trash, no tin cans, no litter. Every resource was used. What was liter in San Juan as used in Port-au-Prince. If it was burnable it was fuel, if it was organic, it was fed to the pigs, if it was metal it was turned into lanterns and utensils.

What impressed us most – and what impresses almost everyone who visits Haiti – is the indomitable spirit and innate friendliness of the people. Put away the camera and they were eager to talk. They were well informed and articulate.

Also interesting was the artistic ability of many citizens. We left Haiti with all the artifacts and decor items that we could afford and that the 2006 would hold along with 7 passengers. We tried to buy directly from the artists and artisans who make the goods.


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Comments

95 responses to “HAITI’S LAND CHANCE”

  1. One of the statistics that jump out at you is that BEFORE the earthquake there were more than 380,000 orphans in a country of 10 million.

    People apparently have kids there and then give them up because they are unable to take care of them.

    I'm not sure what role the US had in this but I don't think you can have a stable society when there are not enough resources to take care of the kids that are being born – and no steps are taken to curtail the higher than sustainable birth rate.

    Humans just like deer can and do overpopulate and perhaps I've never paid close enough attention to see how that factors into functional settlement patterns but suffice to say when 5% of your society is orphans.. it's not a good sign.

    and remember – this is BEFORE the earthquake.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Good post.

    It is going to takle a llot more to tell the real story of Haiti.

    Figure we are four years into "reconstructing" New Orleans.

    Haite could easily take fifty years – if we have the will.

    Best choice: annex Haite to Louisiana.

    Annex pueto Rico to New York

    An annex Cuba to Texas.

    Then when Venezuela petitions for annex, tell Chavez he can have Alaska.

    RH

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Larry G:

    You are making Risses point.

    If the US had followed through on their promises, Haiti would have the Institutional Capacity to avoid that stat and all the other measures of failure.

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    RH:

    We here in NO are a lot more than 4 years from seeing an end of the hurt.

    More important NOTHING has been done to mitigate a Cat 5 from doing much worse the next time.

    Go Saints.

    At least we can cheer for them, the Hornets are gone for the year.

  5. well no.. I did consider that aspect… and you won't find a lot of disagreement from myself on the long history of this country meddling in other country's affairs to suit our interests.

    Assuming the US is culpable (I'm not totally convinced) .. I'm not sure how you fix this.

    We continue to have people in this country having kids and counting on the govt to provide the resources necessary to feed and clothe them.

    There are quite a few "failed states" these days but we seem to have more interest in the ones that harbor suspected terrorists than just your ordinary garden-variety kind.

  6. James A. Bacon Avatar
    James A. Bacon

    Wonderful post, Ed. Great color.

    What were your impressions of Haitian human settlement patterns? Did they contribute to, or mitigate, the deforestation? Speaking of human settlement patterns, what kind of property rights do Haitians enjoy?

    I suspect that the roots of Haitian poverty and desperation lie not with its resourceful people (look how well they do when they come to the U.S.) but the poverty of their institutions, particularly absence of an effective rule of law, as well as a government that functions more as a kleptocracy than a servant of the people. I'm no Haiti expert. Just a hunch.

    You are right, U.S. policy towards Haiti has often been misguided. As for Mr. Clinton, I wish him the best of luck. Hopefully, he will pick better Haitians to work with than the disastrous Jean Bertrand Aristide, whom he propped up in power during his presidency. And hopefully, he won't call upon the assistance of the likes of Marvin Rosen, former finance chair of the Donkey Clan party and president of Fusion Telecommunications, a telecom that won a sweetheart deal to handle telephone traffic between Haiti and the U.S. Fusion allegedly paid kickbacks to Aristide for the franchise. Good for Aristide, bad for Haiti, whose government lost significant revenues as a result.

  7. saaaayyy.. how come it's almost always the donkey clan they send on these missions.

    Where is George Bush or John McCain or New Gingrich?

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    At the Country Club for a 6:30 dinner with Library contributors.

  9. E M Risse Avatar

    Jim Bacon asked:

    “What were your impressions of Haitian human settlement patterns? Did they contribute to, or mitigate, the deforestation?”

    Good questions! EMR knows a lot more about the islands in the Eastern Caribbean. We spent a lot more time there. From 1970 to 2002 EMR owned an interest in and helped restored an 18th century sugar mill and rum distillery on Tortola, BVI. We also worked to help our friends and neighbors more self sufficient. We were also involved with conservation efforts on other islands.

    Like Jim Bacon, EMR is not an expert on Haiti. From our reading and from the air views – in 1968 and Google Earth – we would suggest that the slave rebellion in 1804 widely distributed the land holding rights. As the population grew – in 1804 it was already one of the most heavily populated islands in the Caribbean – individual owners cleared more and more land to cultivate and to harvest wood for charcoal. In 1968 most of the port traffic in Port-au-prince was leaky, dirty sail boats hauling charcoal from other parts of the Island for fuel. These same boats that were used in an attempt to escape grinding poverty and corruption in the past 40 years.

    One has to have been there to understand how different Haiti was (and is) from anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere. Yes, there are similarities between parts of Port-au-Prince and hill-side barrios in Central and South America. EMR lived in Old San Juan within a stones throw of La Pearla. It is the entire nation-state that was different.

    “Speaking of human settlement patterns, what kind of property rights do Haitians enjoy?”

    Except for fraud and corruption, our impression is that in the Countryside most subsistence farmers own their own plots. There was not a post-slavery plantation economy as in St. Vincent and Grenada, for example. In the Urbanside, there is also private property but also more corruption due to the value of land.

    Land ownership boundaries and titles have been a problem throughout the Caribbean. One thing the British did in the Crown Colonies and in the Commonwealth Islands was to carry out “Cardestrial (sp) Surveys” and establish new, precise ownership maps and records. I doubt that has ever been attempted in Haiti.

    EMR

  10. E M Risse Avatar

    Jim Bacon also said:

    “I suspect that the roots of Haitian poverty and desperation lie not with its resourceful people (look how well they do when they come to the U.S.) but the poverty of their institutions, particularly absence of an effective rule of law, as well as a government that functions more as a kleptocracy than a servant of the people. I'm no Haiti expert. Just a hunch.”

    Well you hunch is exactly right.

    And that is where the US of A fell short. They did not provide the help and guidance that was needed and which they promised to deliver.

    Do not get me wrong. The Spanish, Portugese, British, French, Dutch and others did terrible things to those who had immigrated to the New World thousands of years before it was “discovered”. The US of A, Australia, New Zealand did terrible things to those who lived in the territory these nation-states later came to control. EMR’s concern focuses on what the US of A did as a nation-state AFTER the Haitian’s had formed their own nation-state.

    “You are right, U.S. policy towards Haiti has often been misguided. As for Mr. Clinton, I wish him the best of luck. Hopefully, he will pick better Haitians to work with than the disastrous Jean Bertrand Aristide, whom he propped up in power during his presidency. And hopefully, he won't call upon the assistance of the likes of Marvin Rosen, former finance chair of the Donkey Clan party and president of Fusion Telecommunications, a telecom that won a sweetheart deal to handle telephone traffic between Haiti and the U.S. Fusion allegedly paid kickbacks to Aristide for the franchise. Good for Aristide, bad for Haiti, whose government lost significant revenues as a result.”

    EMR is sure there is a lot more of this that has never come to light. That is EXACTLY what EMR means by Bill must not repeat past mistakes at many levels.

    EMR

  11. E M Risse Avatar

    Larry G. said:

    “well no.. I did consider that aspect… and you won't find a lot of disagreement from myself on the long history of this country meddling in other country's affairs to suit our interests.

    “Assuming the US is culpable (I'm not totally convinced) .. I'm not sure how you fix this.”

    That is why this is such a challenge! Can the sympathy generated by this disaster be use to focus resources to build Institutional Capacity?

    “We continue to have people in this country having kids and counting on the govt to provide the resources necessary to feed and clothe them.”

    I would hope that all agree on this, the question is how to change the current trajectory.

    “There are quite a few "failed states" these days but we seem to have more interest in the ones that harbor suspected terrorists than just your ordinary garden-variety kind.”

    There are reasons to be concerned about both but the ‘solving’ Haiti could be the best demonstration of how to achieve a sustainable future. It will mean a smaller population and a smaller ecological footprint.

    First the US of A (as well as the UN, the EU and others) need to stop “nation building” and start Region building. See “Three Questions” 24 March 2003.

    EMR

  12. Well I'll say this. Only Port a Prince and environs was "devastated". there's a lot of the place that was not.

    and this… Bill Clinton … for all of folks hopes – likely won't be able to put that place back together on his own.

    All he can do is hope to interest enough others to step up.

    but let's assume that he and whoever else has a somewhat "clean slate".

    What should they be doing with respect to building a new settlement pattern besides deciding how much they can afford for new earthquake-resistant buildings?

  13. more stew for the pot:

    Density 936.4/sq mi

    640 acres = 1.5 per acre

    that's the entire country

    Port-au-Prince – Density 73,433.9/sq mi= 115 per acre….per capita – about 4 bucks per day.

    Alexandria, va = Density 9,212/sq mi = 14.4 per acre, per capita $175 per day.

    So Port-au-Prince is 10 times as dense as Alexandria and 10 times poorer.

    I think Mr. Bill is going to have his hands full.

  14. Anonymous Avatar

    Ten times poorer is a problem.

    Ten times as desnse may be a big part of the solution. There is not need for vehicles to meet most of citizens daily needs.

    LRG

  15. Anonymous Avatar

    43 times poorer makes it a bigger problem but the people are very resourceful Bill can get the graft and corruption off citizens backs and evove a more functional governance structure.

    AZA

  16. Anonymous Avatar

    When Arthur Deming returned from Japan, he was hired by Ford to bring up their quality control.

    He was asked how long it woulod take to instill an environment of Quality at Ford and his answer was twenty five years.

    And that is working essentially with a group that is 100% on board with the program.

    To isntill a culture of quality in Hatian government is likely to take a lot longer.

    This job is bigger than Bill.

    RH

  17. Groveton Avatar

    Let me start with the obligatory … I believe that the earthquake in Haiti was a horrible tragedy. I have donated money and I am happy to see the United States (and many other nations) working to help Haiti recover from this disaster.

    However, the hand wringing, American self-hate written in the main article and many of the comments is beyond the pale. Haiti has a nominal per capita GDP of just under $800 per year. The Dominican Republic (Haiti's "island mate") has a nominal per capita GDP of just under $5,000 per year. Why does the DR have 6X Haiti's per capita GDP? Because the Americans have left the Dominican Republic alone? Far from it. Because the DR has a wealth of natural resources that Haiti doesn't have? Hardly.

    It's because the Dominican Republic is better run. They have a more effective government structure with less corruption and vastly better economic results.

    Haiti had deep seated problems long before the earthquake. Problems not shared with the Dominican Republic. Any rebuilding of Haiti will require a systematic re-engineering of the government in that country. Anything less is cosmetic regardless of how much it costs.

    If the US really wanted to do something useful in Haiti we'd offer the chance to become a US territory for the next 25 years with a popular vote to become independent or become a state after that. We'd set up a tax free commercial zone for companies operating in Haiti and run the government for the next 5 years. Finally, the new building needs to be earthquake resistant.

    As for New Orleans, I was there last summer. Through the lower 9th Ward as well as the French Quarter, etc. Ate a fine lunch at Willie Mae's. There is no chance that the lower 9th Ward should be rebuilt. It should never have been built out in the first place. You just can't look at those levees and the houses below the water line on the other side of the levees and see anything but trouble. The government ought to buy out the landowners and turn the whole thing into a national park. Some places are just to dangerous to live.

    Go Saints! A well played game by Mr. Brees, Colston, et al last night.

  18. Anonymous Avatar

    "This job is bigger than Bill."

    You may be right, but if it is First World humans are toast.

    AZA

  19. E M Risse Avatar

    Groveton:

    I have read your post twice and do not see much to argue with other than your silly "solution." More on that later.

    What you say about Haiti and its comparison with its neighbors is statistically correct.

    You are right that many of Haiti’s problem’s originated with poor leadership from within. Creating a democracy from millions of slaves is not easy.

    But:

    Every president (administration) since Tom Jefferson – Tom was in office when the Haitians revolted – has contributed to the problem.

    One tiny vignette: One of thousands and thousands. (Full disclosure: In addition to items such as the following which is a matter of public record and has been well documented, EMR knows of many others do to his military service.)

    In 1959 Eisenhower gave Papa Doc $6 million to be spent for food to deal with a ‘famine’ that did not exist (one of the few times that there was not one). PD pocketed the money. US of A was trying to buy favor with PD and so he would let them send in Marines to keep an eye on Castro. At the same time PD was releasing Cubans from jail that have been convicted of killing Haitians in highjackings and an abortive invasions because he was afraid of Castro and wanted to goad Trujillo.

    The US of A knew all this and still did the wrong thing. PD had been elected just two years before and still had the potential to be much different than he and his son turned out to be IF given positive support instead of bribes.

    By the time EMR visited in 1968 PD’s dictatorship had become so bad that even the US of A would not bribe him and he had to look elsewhere for hard currency.

    At least the Swiss are trying to keep PD s family from getting some of the money they hid in Swiss banks.

    Groveton, you have a lot of good observations about a lot of things but your idea of a ‘solution’ is not just far fetched – is either the elephant clan or the donkey clan going to put out billions to take on more territory? – but WRONG.

    The US of A tried to do about what you suggest with Puerto Rico (PR) after the Spanish American War. At the time PR was a basket case – much worse than Cuba or The Dominican Republic (DR). Later, FDR tried to right 40 years of recent wrongs and create a model democracy in the Caribbean. He failed too.

    PR has higher per capita income than Haiti and has more cars and stuff but most who understand both places will tell you the Haitians are better positioned to survive in a context of limited global resources. Neither PR nor DR are on a trajectory that can be changed to a sustainable one without massive effort and resources that do not and will not exist.

    Haiti may be salvageable because of the current level of expectation in Haiti and the quality and character of the citizens. You have to experience both places to understand.

    The US of A does not have a model governance structure nor a model economy to graft onto Haiti.

    Forget ‘nation-building’ start with Community building and then work up to Region Building.

    EMR

  20. Groveton Avatar

    Puerto Rico's purchasing power adjusted per capita annual GDP is $19,600. Haiti's is $1,300. The Dominican Republic's is $8,600. Please not that I have switched to the PPP method of calculating per capita GDP since nominal figures were not readily available for Puerto Rico.

    For all the caterwauling about how badly the US mis-managed Puerto Rico it seems that the Puerto Ricans are 15X wealthier than the Haitians and 2.5X wealthier than the Dominicans. Funny thing about wealth – you can use the money to do things like build buildings that don't crumble in earthquakes.

    For the record, I have been to all three countries – a lot more recently than 1968. Haiti was the least advanced of the 3 before the earthquake and has had the least US involvement throughout its history.

    As for spending billions – I see it as spend them now or spend them later. Haiti's total nominal GDP is $6.943B. That would be a rounding error in Obama's stimulus package. And if we don't rebuild? Expect to see a whole lot of Haitians illegally entering the US. How much will we spend on expanded social services when that happens?

  21. Groveton Avatar

    Oh yeah … EMR … when will your book be out?

  22. Hey.. you wanna get the US interested in some serious national building in Haiti?

    easy. just start a rumor than
    Al-Qaeda has infested the place and is sending kid bombs disguised as orphans to the US.

  23. E M Risse Avatar

    Haiti: OH how we failed you and now we are failing ourselves.

    Groveton:

    How often do you drive down the road steering by the rear view mirror?

    Why do you think that is prudent for civilization as it now exists?

    Of course your numbers are right about the past, but what of the future?

    EMR spent all of Chapter 6 of “The Shape of the Future” spelling out why past measures of productivity, competitiveness and prosperity were a dead end.

    More GDP and more GCP (Gross Consumption per Capita) WERE measures of progress. That was then, this is now.

    In the 18th century with seemingly infinite resources Adam Smith was all one needed. In the last 140 years humans have Mass OverConsumed those resources. Now citizens need a lot more.

    As articulated in PART FIVE of “TRILO-G,” humans must evolve A NEW METRIC FOR CITIZENS WELL BEING.

    As you and I agreed long ago:

    In a time of extensive literacy, instant communications, and weapons of mass destruction, the Wealth Gap is a ticking time bomb.

    In the past the likes of Duvalier, Trujillo, Barista and Castro could live off table scraps.

    In the past the likes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Stalin, Mao and Pot could live off of military might and suppression – for a while.

    The Soviets proved no elite, no matter how rich in resources, can afford domination.

    Iran and North Korea are playing the blackmail card with the technology that the Soviets had to abandon.

    Chavez is demonstrating that even oil does not calm the tide stirred up by massive inequity.

    Some think religious fervor will be the ticket to maintaining domination. Oil and religion together are not enough as Dubai is demonstrating.

    Hans Rosling is showing that the East and the South are catching up with the West in the measures of human now quality of life – those metrics of REAL citizen happiness and safety.

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/01/12/rosling.converging.world/index.html

    Rosling thinks the East and the South will catch up in per capita consumption, EMR does not.

    Producing and consuming MORE is NOT the answer.

    Less consumption per unit of happiness and safety is the path to sustainability, not more.

    Haiti is a leader in this equation.

    A sustainable future will require less consumption per capita and a humane way to have less Capitas. Rosling’s numbers suggest pillow talk is the only answer – aka, enlightened selfinterest.

    Every Dooryard, every Cluster, every Neighborhood, every Village, every Community, every SubRegion, every Region, every MegaRegion must be a test bed for ways to increase happiness and safety with LESS consumption, LESS production.

    Right now Bill and Haiti is one of the most important large-scale experiments. Why? Because Haitians will be grateful for what most obese First Worlders do not yet think they could ever live on.

    DO NOT SCREW UP BILL

    It is past time for A NEW METRIC FOR CITIZEN WELL BEING.

    EMR

  24. E M Risse Avatar

    And on the book question:

    You are a month and three days late.

    It is avaliable at Amazon. It will be months before we have it repackaged for Look Inside the Book, prepared for direct downloading for your Kindle. (It is in PDF so with a little effort you can read it with Kindle and IPad — you do not have one yet? Gee get to consuming.)

    It will also be a while before there is a new website — still interviewing potential contractors — etc.

    But the book is done. For now.

    EMR

  25. When you have people having kids massively and they cannot take care of them and turn them over to someone else to care for them and go right back to producing more kids –

    it's more than a governance issue.

    you cannot govern when you have far more people than you have resources for.

    and that has to be among the first things to change if Haiti is going to escape from it's current destiny.

    The Catholic Church, the predominant religion, if they really care about the people of Haiti needs to step forward and be part of the solution.

    The message has to be – "do not have kids if you cannot care for them".

    we are essentially destroying the earth by using more resources than are available without heavy pollution.

    Everything that a human does – requires food & energy and just like populations of deer – it is possibly to overrun the habitat.

    when people act like deer – the outcome is similar.

  26. E M Risse Avatar

    Larry:

    Very well put.

    The Church is one of the bigger culprits in the Haiti context and elsewhere.

    See Rosling and pillow talk.

    There are no end of Institutions and Agenceies to 'blame' but that does not change what needs to be done.

    EMR.

  27. Let me give full credit to Bob McDonnell. He has reversed the worst governor in Virginia history and decided to stick with the Local Composite Index funding formula. The LCI is still a disgrace but at least it's not a double disgrace.

    I remain convinced that I made the right choice in November.

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/virginiapolitics/2010/02/mcdonnell_7.html?wprss=virginiapolitics

  28. RoVa Don't Pay No Stinkin' Tolls

    Interesting that tolls are clearly the right answer to all funding questions in Northern Virginia but never the right answer elsewhere in the state.

    Not sure who this dim bulb John Cosgrove is but he ought to review how things worked out in that First War of Northern Aggression. You know – the one to preserve slavery.

    http://hamptonroads.com/2010/02/tunnel-tolls-proposal-dropped-general-assembly

  29. "When you have people having kids massively and they cannot take care of them and turn them over to someone else to care for them and go right back to producing more kids –

    it's more than a governance issue.

    you cannot govern when you have far more people than you have resources for.".

    Do you apply the same test to places in RoVa with structural unemployment rates > 15%?

  30. Ahhh the anti-Catholics are out.

    Did the Catholic Church cause the overpopulation in China or India or Bangaledesh?

    How about Italy? Very Catholic. Is it overwhelmed with people having too many children?

    Ireland?

    Boston?

    I wonder what the major religion is in The Dominican Republic? Puerto Rico? Quebec?

  31. I would suggest that whenever you have a central state transportation fund and no locality really has as accounting of their own contributions – as is the case in the Commonwealth – and you combine that with the idea that some folks have that the right kind of politics can get money out of that fund – then you engender statewide, including HR/TW those who strive for the gold.

    It's not the state gas tax that is bad – it's the fact that it goes to a central fund without any real accountability.

    There is no NoVa "fund" or HR/TR fund – only the "state" and a formula that hardly anyone can figure out sufficient to decide how much money is actually "owed" to a locality.

    and so you end up with really stupid stuff – like heavily traveled urban arterials classified as "secondary" roads and roads with 1/100th the traffic flow classified as 'primary" roads.

  32. No anti-catholic here and yes.. whether it's downtown DC or Coburn, Va or Haiti or Somalia – having kids you cannot care for ought to be recognized for the problems it generates.

    But having kids and then turning them over to an orphanage is an unraveling of civilization that any religion that says it cares for people should recognize for what it is.

    it's just plain dumb to have a system where one side of society is doing everything it can to properly care for orphans while the other side just keeps on producing more of them.

    EMR says this is an institutional failure – blame to the leaders in Haiti and blame to the US.

    That leaves religion as the last hope for the people.

  33. I remain sceptical as to how much blame the US should bear for problems in Haiti.

    US has been heavily involved in almost all neighboring countries. While we can debate the morality of this involvement, systematic damage stemming from US involvement ought to be apparent is systematic problems. But Haiti is really a basket case in the Carribean. Is there any evidence that the US had more involvement in Haiti than in somewhere like The Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico. I say no. Therefore, Haiti differentially poor performance cannot be attributed to US involvement. In other words, Haiti became a regional basket case for reasons beyond US involvement since the US has been involved almost everywhere and not all countries are basket cases.

    This situation is recurrent. Haiti and The Dominican Republic. Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Puerto Rico and Cuba. Very similar countries with very different outcomes. I see no obvious single thread that explains the differendes – not US involvement (we have been involved in all of them), not religion (they are all historically Catholic).

  34. Well Groveton – just to be clear – there are different kinds and levels of "involvement" right?

    I don't think it is just one level but can and is very different from one to another.

    The US did occupy Haiti and by all accounts Haiti benefited from it in terms of infrastructure but like in virtually every case of nation building – you cannot succeed at supplanting existing cultures and the histories they represent.

    but we still have our own idiot leaders who think we can even after they promise in their inaugural speech to not engage in Nation Building.

    So I'm not as enthused about that concept as EMR seems to be since we have not so good a record of being successful at this.

  35. James A. Bacon Avatar
    James A. Bacon

    Groveton, I would submit that the U.S. is somewhat to blame for Haiti's lack of development — although not for the reasons usually cited. There is a growing body of theory coming out of Africa, which could well apply to Haiti, that posits a direct correlation between a nation's lack of development and the amount of foreign aid it has received. More aid = less development. It would be interesting to see how much aid the U.S. government and NGOs have lavished upon Haiti in the post-World War II era versus other Caribbean nations.

    The reason aid is destructive is that it enables kleptocracies to stay in power. They distribute the aid as patronage to their supporters. Their focus becomes extracting more aid rather than building the institutions required to create wealth. All that well-intentioned foreign aid perpetuates a corrupt status quo and empoverishes the people it is meant to help.

    If you thought old-fashioned, Chiquita Banana imperialists were evil for propping up authoritarian juntas, they haven't done a fraction of the damage that the do-gooders have done. You have already alluded to the difference between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. We propped up the DR's dictator Trujillo, but it turns out that he was pretty enlightened in some ways. Just read "Collapse" and you can see that his policies helped prevent the deforestation that has blighted Haiti.

  36. E M Risse Avatar

    More on Larry’s concerns:

    Chapter 8 of “The Shape of the Future” highlights the two overarching social problems associated with dysfunctional human settlement patterns: Population and Civility.

    The planet can only support so many humans and with anything like the current level of consumption the population is already in drastic overshoot. And we have burned through much of the Natural Capital. If only a few hog the resources, it is Apocalypse (aka, Collapse) by human hands, not super-natural acts. It is Collapse by humans Organizations (Agencies, Enterprises and Institutions INCLUDING religious Institutions.)

    Second humans must learn to treat one another better than they have in the past. They need to treat each other better at ALL scales from the Household to the planet. “ Do unto others…” is the place to start.

    Rosling cites above makes the point that the best way to achieve a shrinking population is pillow talk – aka, enlightened self interest.

    Almost all religions bear considerable responsibility in population dynamics since they act as if, at the Apocalypse the Institution with the most souls ‘wins.’

    It is easy to single out opponents of birth control but here again citizens, collectively have the upper hand. If citizens leave a church because of a doctrine they do not believe is in their best interest, the doctrine will be changed.

    See Hawkin’s “Blessed Unrest.”

    And on Groveton’s comment:

    “Ahhh the anti-Catholics are out.”

    Looking in the real view mirror again, Groveton.

    Spirituality and reverence are important to humans obtaining a sustainable trajectory for their civilization because of genetic proclivities that got humans to this stage of evolution. That is especially true with respect to establishing harmony with ‘nature’ aka finite organic and inorganic systems.

    What a sustainable trajectory does not need is more religions of temple sacrifices, crusades, inquisitions, reformations and jihads.

    See Rosling re the population of India, etc.

    More on the US of A role soon.

    EMR

  37. E M Risse Avatar

    Just saw Jim Bacon's comment and he is RIGHT ON.

    More on that soon.

    EMR

  38. E M Risse Avatar

    Groveton said:

    “I remain sceptical as to how much blame the US should bear for problems in Haiti.”

    You have the right to remain skeptical but before you jump to unfounded conclusions you need to be careful of your understanding of history AND not use the rear view mirror. Here are some notes:

    “US has been heavily involved in almost all neighboring countries.”

    True

    “While we can debate the morality of this involvement, systematic damage stemming from US involvement ought to be apparent is systematic problems.”

    And it still is.

    “But Haiti is really a basket case in the Carribean.”

    True from many perspectives but looking forward EMR would bet on many of the small Caribbean Islands and even on Haiti before let’s say Puerto Rico – where EMR lived, worked and has spent a lot of time. Cut off the huge subsides that the US of A has piped in and the money from expats that were free to immigrate to the US of A and see how fast you have another Chavez in power. There have already been a number of mini-Chavezs who, when it was threatened to cut off the dole, calmed down. Puerto Rico could make Cuba look like Utopia in short order.

    “Is there any evidence that the US had more involvement in Haiti than in somewhere like The Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico.”

    But see Jim Bacon’s points of the nature and impact of AID.

    “I say no. Therefore, Haiti differentially poor performance …”

    For now.

    “…cannot be attributed to US involvement. In other words, Haiti became a regional basket case for reasons beyond US involvement since the US has been involved almost everywhere and not all countries are basket cases.”

    “This situation is recurrent. Haiti and The Dominican Republic. Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Puerto Rico and Cuba. Very similar countries with very different outcomes. I see no obvious single thread …”

    Here history fails you badly. (Who taught Western Hemisphere history at Groveton HS anyway? Just kidding.)

    See Jim Bacon’s observations above but also this:

    Haiti had a SLAVE REBELLION in 1804. All of the rest of the places you name and the rest of the Spanish and Portugese colonies in the New World had revolts later, some much later and almost all were revolts of elites. Many of the later ones funded by international Enterprises and compounded by geopolitical complications.

    EMR does not choose to re-fight the Spanish American War but for example Spain intentionally stunted the Institutional Capacity (See GLOSSARY) of Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico it never did revolt. That is why the US of A took it over because it was such a basket case. It had less Institutional Capacity than Haiti had a century before.

    A key factor in the US of A’s contribution to the problems in Haiti was that it DID treat Haiti like all the rest of the Banana Republics AND IT WAS AND IT IS NOT THE SAME. Even as late as 1959 there was hope of turning things around as we noted earlier. That is why it is so important now.

    Next for Jim Bacon:

    Your points are well taken but this is NOT new stuff. We have a book in our library “We Don’t Know How: An Independent Audit of What They Call Success in Foreign Assistance” by William and Elizabeth Paddock which lays out the same theory. Written in 1973, this book was always on EMR’s desk when working on conservation and ecology tourism in the Eastern Carribean in the late 70s and 80's. YES in the late 70s and 80s.

    Finally, Larry said:

    “EMR says this is an institutional failure – blame to the leaders in Haiti and blame to the US.”

    Vocabulary, Larry, Vocabulary:

    It is a failure of Institutional Capacity and that is frequently the result of a failure of all Organizations: Agencies, Enterprises and Institutions.

    EMR

  39. E M Risse Avatar

    Oh yes, one other note for Groveton:

    The reason that buildings have not fallen down in Puerto Rico is not that the folks have high per capita income (or that they are smarter, third Little Pig) and build better buildings. It is that the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault does not run under San Juan.

    And this from “Slate:”

    Due to the damage done by hurricanes Fay, Gustave, Hanna and Ike in 2008, the UN, NGOs and Agencies (including the US of A) have mapped out a 20 year plan to develop natural resource management programs.

    Now if there is just an Urban resource program to create a series of sustainable REGIONS in Haiti to take the pressure off of Port-au-Prince, take the power out of the hands of a national elite, stop the ‘nation-building” horse pucky and…

    DO NOT SCREW UP BILL, YOU CAN DO IT.

    EMR

  40. Anonymous Avatar

    Saying that the wealth gap is a problem is a lot different from saying that we can adequately feed clothe and house those people at the lower end without using and produsing a lot more GNP.

    To do all that is going to take a lot more GDP than you can extract from the rich, only. You will need more resources to do it and use them better.

    It is the human equivalent of Jevon's Paradox: We use jet fuel more efficiently than ever but we still use more than ever. Even if we feed clothe and house all those people efficiently, we will also have more people and use more resources.

    No matter which church is in power.

    EMR persisrts in thinking that the answer is for everyone to make do with less, but we know that the only time we will make do with less passenger pigeons is after we run out.

    RH

  41. Anonymous Avatar

    "It's not the state gas tax that is bad ……"

    Well, finally.

    Now that we have settled that problem, what can we do about accountability, why does it matter, aqnd once we understand whare it comes from, what has that got to do with how to spend it?

    When you finally get around to apying off your credit cards, you pay the ones with the highest interest first, right?

    RH

  42. Anonymous Avatar

    "Saying that the wealth gap is a problem is a lot different from saying that we can adequately feed clothe and house those people at the lower end without using and produsing a lot more GNP."

    OF COURSE THEY ARE DIFFERENT.

    THE FIRST IS REALITY, THE SECOND IS BUSINESS AS USUAL HOPING TO RIDE THE TIGER FOR A LITTLE LONGER.

    "To do all that is going to take a lot more GDP than you can extract from the rich, only. You will need more resources to do it and use them better."

    THAT IS WHAT THE SPECULATORS AND OTHER TIGER RIDERS HOPE.

    It is the human equivalent of Jevon's Paradox: We use jet fuel more efficiently than ever but we still use more than ever. Even if we feed clothe and house all those people efficiently, we will also have more people and use more resources.

    NOW HUMANS ARE USING MORE EFFICIENT PLANES AND FLYING LESS — DOWN 6 PERCENT IN 2009. WITH $8 BLANKET FEES AND SEATS DESIGNED FOR SARDINES THAT TREND WILL CONTINUE.

    PLAN NOW FOR A 5 PERCENT PER YEAR SHRINK IN GROSS PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION.

    … but we know that the only time we will make do with less passenger pigeons is after we run out.

    THE PLANET IS OUT OF PASSENGER PIGEONS AND HUMANS ARE OUT OF CHEAP ENERGY.

    TIME TO CHANGE EXPECTATIONS, THE METRICS OF WELL BEING AND PER CAPITA CONSUMPTION.

    PROFESSOR RISSE HAS DEMONSTATED THAT THE ONLY WAY TO PRESERVE ANYTHING LIKE THE CURRENT STANDARDS OF LIVING IS TO EVOLVE FAR MORE FUNCTIONAL AND EFFICIENT HUMAN SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

    THAT MEANS NO SCATTERED DWELLINGS IN YOU HAY FIELD, RH.

    AZA

  43. well in the case of Haiti, we think their GDP is too low – for the resources they have. That's the implication right?

    You've got two countries on the same island with about the same resources but one of them the GDP is four time higher.

    right?

  44. re: gas tax and accountability.

    I don't think you can fix the accountability problem as long as the tax goes to Richmond and there are a whole of political processes that allow folks to get to those funds instead of assuring that each locality get's it's fair share.

    It's that tax going to Richmond that is the problem.

    I note that someone from NoVa has suggested boosting the 2% gas tax to 4% and since we already know the 2% is fully accounted for – we can presume that the 4% will also.

  45. Anonymous Avatar

    "I don't think you can fix the accountability problem as long as the tax goes to Richmond and there are a whole of political processes that allow folks to get to those funds instead of assuring that each locality get's it's fair share."

    What is the point if each locality gets its fair share and no locality has enough to get anything accomplished?

    RH

  46. it works the same way as any other multi-year funded capital project except that in the case of transportation funding in Virginia – there is not only no accountability but there is no assurance of year-to-year funding either and you cannot bond-finance capital projects without a committed source of funding.

    Six-Year Plans in Virginia (before they pretty much ran out of money)

    were total jokes.

    First – there were more projects that there was ever funding for over 6 years.

    many projects would remain on the "6yr plan" for a decade or longer before it accumulated enough funding to build it.

    but even worse – the locality never knew from one year to the next how much funding would be applied to what projects.

    So you could have a project that was 50% funded and remained that way for years OR it could EVEN effectively LOSE funding because for quite a while VDOT did not inflation-adjust projects.

    If they had done that – the evidence of their convoluted way of funding projects would have been exposed because a projected delayed is a project that in normal economic times gets more expensive.

    So..VDOT was running what amounted to a Ponzi Scheme… putting numbers on the 6yr documentation that in the end – were mostly numbers and not an accurate representation of a fund balance.

    Then .. when the ponzi scheme collapsed, VDOT "announced" permanents "cuts" from 6yr plans across the Commonwealth – unilaterally deleting virtually all the projects in most localities 6yr plans.

    all of this happened because the localities never knew the details of the money… as all they ever had was a piece of paper.

    they never knew, for instance, from one year to the next, how much in gas taxes they generated – and how much of it the state would keep for state roads and other expenses and how much would go into each localities 6yr plan "fund".

    The system is completely corrupt.

    You guys get all up in arms about the LCI and your suspicions that NoVa is a net donor for both roads and education but where's the beef for roads?

    You have no proof.. you have no numbers.. and the reason you do not is there is no accountability.

    and yet.. ya'll still advocate increasing the gas taxes – to be managed in this same way….

    why?

  47. Anonymous Avatar

    "Six-Year Plans in Virginia (before they pretty much ran out of money)

    were total jokes.

    First – there were more projects that there was ever funding for over 6 years."

    ================================

    And my question is the same. If you take that problem and translale it dowwnaward to the local level, don't you still have the same problem, only sliced and diced differently?

    RH

  48. you might depending on the county but most counties have CIPs in their budgets and most counties cannot float bonds unless they adhere to transparency and accountability practices with regard to their funds and revenues.

    And it is much easier to "fire" a BOS than it is to try to figure out what unelected officials inside of VDOT to fire.

    But even if counties were just as bad as the current VDOT paradigm – that is absolutely no reason to continue it.

    It's a practice that deserves to dry up and blow away.

  49. Anonymous Avatar

    "But even if counties were just as bad as the current VDOT paradigm – that is absolutely no reason to continue it."

    ===================================

    Not my point of my suggestion.

    My question is: What is the point of a locality sitting on $1 million dollars if their smallest important project is going to cost $10 million?

    Is it just so you will have an excuse to fire the BOS?

    RH

  50. Anonymous Avatar

    The 2% northern virgina gas tax is actually a mass transit tax that is in addition the the state gas tax money. for th enmosr part it is allocated only to mass transit related projects except for those counties that don't have mass transit, yet, and in those places it is mosty spent for mass transit indirectly, through spending on park & drive and other transit realted costs.

    That money does not belong in any discussion of the spending formula for the general state transprotation revenues, which as you point out are not comprised solely of the gas tax.

    RH

  51. Anonymous Avatar

    "and yet.. ya'll still advocate increasing the gas taxes – to be managed in this same way…."

    I don't advocate spending any taxes this way whether they turn out to be gas taxes (as they should), or whether they turn out to be (even more wasteful) tolls or mileage taxes.

    I suggest that it is state money. The state should create a unified list of projects and rank them acorrding to costs and benefits calculated according to published standards. Those will change over time as long as the projects have not been completed.

    Any advocacy group can petition to have a project raised or lowered in the rankings as new data becomes avaialable. In practice this will mean that projects more than six years in the future won't get much attention, unless a real safety issue emerges.

    Those jobs with the highest ROI and Benefit/cost ratio get funded first, regardless of the locality.

    The problem isn't that the funding is not transparent, it is that the pririoritizing is not transparent. The next thing that happens is that some will claim the prioritizing is all wrong. In order to prevent/ameliorate that argument every completed project should have 5 year post mortems to determine how well its promise was met.

    Lessons learned from the post mortems should be added to the criteria for evaluating future projects.

    RH

  52. Anonymous Avatar

    " THE SECOND IS BUSINESS AS USUAL HOPING TO RIDE THE TIGER FOR A LITTLE LONGER."

    ========================

    It is the second that is reality.

    You cannot house, clothe and feed millions more in the future, better than we are housing millions fewer now, and do it for less money and resources. That idea is shear fantasy.

    Not even if you take all the money from the rich to do it.

    Especially not even if you take all the monery from the rich to do it. You need a strong economy to afford (and defend) a good environment.

    RH

  53. Anonymous Avatar

    "NOW HUMANS ARE USING MORE EFFICIENT PLANES AND FLYING LESS — DOWN 6 PERCENT IN 2009. "

    Usage of most other things was down a lot more than 6% IN 2009. this is a meaningless number.

    Flight canceallations during the last week alone amounted to more thana misslion seats = aalmost a third of one percent of all "Americans.

    We will continue to use more efficient planes and we will continue to burn mor fuel in them, until the fuel is no longer aqvaialble.

    We will also continue to house more people more efficiently and yet use more resources to do it – until those resources are no longer available.

    The conservationist manifesto is that we should make those resources no longer available —-NOW.

    And we whould make them permanently unavailable.

    Good plan.

    RH

  54. you don't sit on the million – you use it to pay back your 10 million bond – one million per year as you get your funding.

  55. the money does not HAVE to be spent on Transit. I know, because down our way the excess monies after VRE .ARE spent on roads.

  56. Anonymous Avatar

    "THE PLANET IS OUT OF PASSENGER PIGEONS AND HUMANS ARE OUT OF CHEAP ENERGY. "

    =============================

    It is going to take a lot of energy to feed and house those people. If it is not cheap energy then it will cost a lot more to do it.

    Apparently we cannot afford to do it now, so we let themn starve in hovels and rags.

    What makes you think we can do it with expensive energy any better?

    PS: We won't be feeding them passenger pigeons.

    RH

  57. the don't do the lists as you suggest… and until they do – any more money just convinces them that they don't need to change.

  58. Anonymous Avatar

    THAT MEANS NO SCATTERED DWELLINGS IN YOU HAY FIELD, RH.

    ================================

    Well, we all knew it would come down to that, didn't we.

    You mind explaining to me how my hayfields remaining as hayfields will prevent anyone, let alone millions from starving in hovels?

    The way you do that is to have those fields used as efficiently as possible, which is not as hayfields.

    If wishes were horses, I'd gladly give away avery thing I could grow on my fields to poor people, but I can't afford to do it. I can't even afford to sell it to poor people.

    I have to be paid for my labor and machinery and energy and other inputs or I cannot keep doing it. Given the rules I struggle with, hay for animals is as close as I can come. I keep hoping for a better plan, but so far it has not happened.

    People around here will pay more to feed their animals than they will to feed the poor in Haiti.

    "When it comes to the mixing of residential development and farms, historic exurban settlement patterns seem to have reflected either a collisions of the two uses resulting in an unhappy outcome, or containment of one of th uses, a subtly hostile approach."

    I would say that there is nothing subtly hostile about your statement above, nor would I say it is of the slightest utility.

    "The Baldoran Farm project depends on the predicate that home buyers [in the hayfields of Baldoran Farm, presumably] will appreciate the beauty of the farm, the guranty and protection of its open space, and the conceptr of a true working farm as and "amenity" and most importantly will be willing to pay a 25 to 30% premium for it."

    And there it is, that dreaded profit word. But the Baldoran Project is supported by those who understand that preservation development still has to turn a profit. Year over year, short term to long term.

    RH

    Quotes from this month's Piedmont magazine

  59. Anonymous Avatar

    the don't do the lists as you suggest… and until they do – any more money just convinces them that they don't need to change.

    ==================================

    I agree we should not incentivize them to contnue bad practices.

    Anymore than I should be incentivized to grow hay where it makes no sense.

    Where in the public discoursw do we hear anything about how to change those practices? Nope, all we hear bout is how to get our hands on more money, prefereably OPM or money we can call anything except a tax.

    I suggest the VDOT issue the rules for calculating benefits and costs and invite proposals for local projects on that basis. Lets see how well the various BOS's can tout their favorite projects while not breaking the VDOT rules of engagement.

    Should be worth a few laughs, anyway.

    RH

  60. Anonymous Avatar

    you don't sit on the million – you use it to pay back your 10 million bond – one million per year as you get your funding.

    =================================

    Borrowing is OK then? As long as we keep it to ten % of budget?

    RH

  61. Anonymous Avatar

    What if the whole reason you had to borrow is that you did not pay enough for the last 37 years?

    RH

  62. borrowing is how you pay for capital projects like schools and other infrastructure to include roads like when a locality has a road referendum.

    getting VDOT to come up with a prioritization scheme and a cost-benefit scheme is ludicrous given their track record to date but as long as we don't have to give them any more money until they do come up with something is fine.

    but your suggestion that all localities kick in money and then have VDOT essentially decide whose projects won't get funded because they're too low on the priority list or don't have acceptable cost/benefits…

    tell me again why they should give VDOT the money rather than keep it for their own roads?

    tough choice huh?

    lemme see.. do I give my money to the VDOT Ponzi Scheme or do I keep it for myself?

  63. Anonymous Avatar

    Let me say at the outset that VDOT has done a tremendous job in thhe last two weeks, and even over the last several years. When I first moved to the farm a storm like this would have us buried for a week, but now VDOT has kept the state roads neare me passable throughout the storms. It isn't like the organization is a total flop.

    I even spoke to a local supervisor on Sunday to see if he wanted to hire my tractor to start digging out ont he county roads, and he was very friendly and factual about his situation.

    I freely concede I have no idea how to make this better. I'm just asking questions. I don't see any suggestions coming from your perspective.

    Someone is going to have to set priorities. Transportation is both a regional and a local issue: What warrenton does is going to affect Culpeper.

    It seems to me that VDOT has more expertise (if that's the right word) than localities at deciding what the ramifications are of the various fixes we might be able to afford.

    What's missing, according to you is transparency. So, I think that VDOT needs to make their cost benefit criteria known and publish the studies and rankings. Over time, conditions will change, and alert citizens can point out when the ratings need to change. A few years ago the state roads near me needed better snow removal, but now that problem seems to be fixed.

    I believe that major safety issues could be resolved with more frequent line painting. There are areas where the lines are simply invisible during the rain, and even roads with no lines at all. Every road should at least have the shoulder stripes painted and adequate reflectors on the curves. This is such a fundamental maintenance issue that it should never be allowed to get behind.

    Then you have areas of roads that are simply crumbling into total disrepair, and the costs of fixing these goes up every week, until the thing needs a total rebuild instead of just a mill and re-pave.

    I don't see anyway the localities can rank or prioritize these things, along with bridges, new construction etc. evenif they could do it, they could only rank within thier local.

    Then, since they may have to wait several years before they even get enough money for a down payment for the loan on their first project, the whole idea of ranking becomes moot – whatever your first priority is will propbably be blatantly obvious.

    If you divide this up into locales or counties or communites or whatever, all you have done is increase the number of jobs that suddenly become "first" without increasing the money to get them started with.

    I don't see that is a solution.

    Some higher authority is going to have to say, look, here is how we determine costs – uniformly for every project. These are gross estimates, good to +/- 25%. and then list all the cost elements and the cost estimating relationships: so much per mile, so much per intersction, so much per light, so much for guardrail, so much for continuing maintenance.

    Do the same for benefits: so much for drivers, so much for transit users and carpoolers, so much for business, so much for landowners.

    Then rank them along with the assumptions used. These are huge swingers which could easily chnage over time.

    Finally, and hereis the part which is missing throughout government, is that projects need to be re-surveyed at five year intervals for spot checks on whehhter the costs and benefits were acchieved as expected. When we find an area that is underrepresented or misrepresented in past projects that factor needs to be adjusted for all future projects.

    RH

  64. Anonymous Avatar

    Your suggestion is that we withhold the money and do nothing until they provide us with the lists, and lists that we can all agree with.

    I suggest that we may wind up with lists we don't agree with, but we ought to at least be able to agree on fair rules on how to draqw upp the lists. That you can do and still not like the results, but they are two different processes.

    It is the feedback section that allows you to refine the processes, and refine them in ways that we agree will get better results. We may STILL not like what winds up on the list, but there won;t be any way to shift he list that doesn't make some part of it worse "for our side".

    That's when you know you have a good set of trades.

    The first item on the list is always do nothing, which is your suggestion. Do nothing usually winds up with high costs and little benefit.

    I would suggest that your suggestion is costing us money every day, and theproblem with it is that it is not transparent. All we have is the TXDOT estimate claiming it is costing every commuter close to $1000 a year to do nothing. That option should be ranked explicitly, right along side each of the others.

    RH

  65. re: " I don't see any suggestions coming from your perspective."

    then you're stone deaf.

    Localities should build & maintain and pay for local roads that primarily affect their jurisdiction.

    Regional should be done by MPOs where they will decide the regional priorities and each member locality can join the others in deciding priorities, funding and cost-benefit for their region.

    VDOT should concentrate ONLY on roads that connect the state… it's localities and regions and new roads should be toll roads.

    there's much more wrong than transparency but the reason transparency is missing is because if there was more transparency, people would understand how corrupt and dysfunctional the current process is.

    You cannot delegate to VDOT a process for deciding which local and regional roads have priority with the idea that they will divert money from other localities and regions to fund them.

    This is what they have been doing and they do have a prioritization scheme and a way to do cost-benefits – but the process is not explained and regions and localities cannot participate. It's a closed process to start with but money should not be diverted from local and regional needs to begin with.

    That's the part of the gas tax funding that "belongs" to the locality after VDOT takes their cut for statewide priorities and needs.

    YOU NEVER have enough money for roads and it's always about priorities and there is no way in heck that VDOT is going to be able to decide if Lynchburg's needs and priorities are "better" than Charlottesville … and it's dumb to think so ….

    Give Lynchburg and Charlottesville their fair share and VDOT keeps the rest to decide if they need to upgrade Rt 29 or I-81 statewide and/or how/when/etc.

    But you don't know how much Lynchburg or Charlottesville actually generates in gas tax revenues – much less what their fair share ought to be.

    VDOT gets the money and then decides how to allocate it without any significant transparency ..much less accountability – which is a joke when you're talking about career employees who are not elected and not accountable to any of the public.

    I do agree.. the part of VDOT that does maintenance – is excellent – one of the best in the nation but VDOT is a huge entity and it's transportation planning is corrupt and dysfunctional IMHO – and the reason why people don't want to pay higher gas taxes to send to VDOT. They simply don't trust the process – and for good reason.

  66. there is no way to "fix" the current process… without major reforms – reforms by the way – that have been suggested by JLARC and the Auditor of Public accounts, some of them grudgingly done at the behest of folks like Phillip Shucet who was treated as a meddling outsider by VDOT career folks.

    VDOT should NEVER be deciding local and regional priorities to start with … MUCH less deciding which localities and regions have higher priorities than others.

    that whole concept is rife with political skulduggery… and you don't need to look far to see it – HR/TW refuses to enact tolls to build more "critically needed" tunnels and bridges and instead seeks to find money in Richmond for their needs – even if that money is far, far in excess of what that region actually generate in gas taxes… and they don't really care whose hide it comes out of – as long as they succeed in getting the money.

    That's way you don't want that money in Richmond to start with and why you don't want VDOT deciding if HR/TW "needs" are higher than NoVa "needs".

    you're advocating for a failed system.

  67. Anonymous Avatar

    Localities should build & maintain and pay for local roads that primarily affect their jurisdiction.

    What role should VDOT play in determining what projects affect the local jurisdiction? What role should VDOT play in setting and enforcing standards?
    What are the localities options when they have clear and pressing needs and no whee near enough money to plan, let alone begin needed projects? What visibility is appropriate for how localities prioritize their needs. Who should do follow up examps to see if their priactices and procedures are working as desired?

    ===================================

    Regional shoud be done by MPO's…

    What happens when locals don;t like the MPO's plans? How much veto do locals get so they can ramroad through atrocities like the traffic circles to protect Middleburg?

    (I concede the traffic circles are an improvement, but they could have been done much better than they were, and the original plan would have been better and lasted longer. This will be a good example of something that needs a serious re-study later.)

    ==============================

    New roads should be tollroads.

    Nope. You already conceded that point above. We are done with suggesting that toll roads are a worthwile way to pay for ANYTHING, least of all something that is specifically designed to support the entir estate.

    ===============================

    if there was more transparency, people would understand how corrupt and dysfunctional the current process is.

    Huh? Isn't that why you need transparency? What I hear you saying is that you don;t really want transparency because someone might be able to make a case that you don't like. Transparency gives them free advertising.

    ==================================

    You cannot delegate to VDOT a process for deciding which local and regional roads have priority with the idea that they will divert money from other localities and regions to fund them.

    Why not? Especially if the idea is to get the really most important and most valuable jobs done first. I think that includes paint, but paint is not politically sexy.

    =================================

    – but the process is not explained and regions and localities cannot participate.

    In my opinion
    THAT is the real problem.

    Regions and localities SHOULD not participate in the cost benefit process or analyisis, but hey should participate in the process of picking and defining the procedure that produces a cost benefit study.

    And there should be post partum studies to improve the process.

    ================================

    – much less what their fair share ought to be.

    I don't think it makes any difference if the cost benefit studies are properly prioritized. They will get their share of the benefits. And what those benefits areshould be transparent.

    ==============================

    and the reason why people don't want to pay higher gas taxes to send to VDOT. They simply don't trust the process – and for good reason.

    That decision has costs, too. A truley transparent system would show what those costs are. No matgte what we do, someone will complain about conspiracy, skulduggery, shgort term windfall profits, etc. etc.

    Best we can do is say to them – here is how you change the criteria…..

    RH

  68. Anonymous Avatar

    HR/TW refuses to enact tolls to build more "critically needed" tunnels and bridges

    And correctly so.
    Tolls are a lousy idea – period.

    RH

  69. I never conceded that tolls were wrong at all.. I have steadfastly supported them from the get-go and continue to do so.

    HR/TW doesn't want tolls but what do they want?

    Their tunnel/bridge needs are whose responsibility?

    VDOT's role in local and regional roads should be exactly the way it is in 46 other states and that is to set the standards then stand back and let the localities decide funding and priorities.

    RE: " Especially if the idea is to get the really most important and most valuable jobs done first."

    BECAUSE – there is NO ACCEPTED process for doing this an very ample evidence that politics make such decisions and not needs and priorities.

    re: the need for transparency

    we won't get it because if we did have it – people would be outraged about how the process works.. so there will never be an agreement to provide it.

    " What happens when locals don;t like the MPO's plans? How much veto do locals get so they can ramroad through atrocities like the traffic circles to protect Middleburg?"

    it works like any other Regional collaboration.

    what makes you think those circles are regional projects?

  70. "The reason that buildings have not fallen down in Puerto Rico is not that the folks have high per capita income (or that they are smarter, third Little Pig) and build better buildings. It is that the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault does not run under San Juan.".

    True. Although the San Andreas Fault does run through California. Would the recent Haiti quake have done the same amount of damage if it hit California? Would the same number of people been killed? Hint: While each earthquake is different, the 7.0 quake in Haiti may have killed 200,000 people, the 6.9 quake (1989) in Northern California killed 63 people.

  71. Anonymous Avatar

    Groveton:

    Your are making Professor Risse's point.

    Why did not Uncle Sam tie Hatian aid to better building codes?

    No, they tied it to getting access to spy on Cuba.

    AZA

  72. Anonymous Avatar

    It's not the state gas tax that is bad – it's the fact that it goes to a central fund without any real accountability.

    From Your post of 2/10/2010 8:13 pm

    ——————————–

    I never conceded that tolls were wrong at all..

    From your post of 2/12/2010 12:35 PM

    ================================

    OK it is a subtle differnence, but as far as I'm concerned you have conceded this point and we are done: It is not the state gas tax that is bad, and so why in gods name would wou wantto replace it with something that is worse AND more expensive AND does not addess you rreal concern, which is how the money is spent.

    The real reason youdon;t want tolls is becasuse you know it won't work, won't raise as much money, and won't raise ANY money out of your pocket, and since your goal is to see to it that nothing gets done no mattere what THAT costs, then tolls are a win, from you perspective.

    All I'm going to remember, going forward is that you said, after considerable discussion that you could make zero headway on, that "it is not the state gas tax that is bad"

    Done deal. Nuff said, no backing out now. There is nothing wrong witht he gas tax that cannot be fixed better faster easier cheaper and more fairly than ANYTHING you might accomplish with tolls.

    Now that we agree on that, what do we do about priorities and transparency?

    RH

  73. the gas tax is not bad in terms of a tax because it is collected fairly simply like the sales tax is but the gas tax from that point on in terms of how the money is managed is bad – unlike the sales tax which has precise accountability because 1% is delivered as a lump sum and that's pretty transparent.

  74. It's what happens AFTER the gas tax is collected that destroys it as a viable tax.

    and just a hint – I don't have to fix it – I can just refuse to fun it until THEY fix it because it is THEIR problem and as long as they are in charge and won't fix it – then fine – stay broke and it will force any/all new roads to be toll roads which require a whole lot more rigorous approach to defining what "need" is that slush fund funding.

  75. Anonymous Avatar

    It's what happens AFTER the gas tax is collected that destroys it as a viable tax.

    ================================

    Your previous argument was that the gas tax is dead meat.

    Back to square one. Tolls will have the same problem: the money won;t be spent according to your liking.

    RH

  76. Anonymous Avatar

    " unlike the sales tax which has precise accountability because 1% is delivered as a lump sum and that's pretty transparent."

    ————————–

    I don't see any difference at all. Either way the money is collected by vendors and sent to the state. The state knows how much money they are getting from each source. They know or could easily know where it comes from to a high degree of accuracy.

    Where it comes from is of little importance, actually. The state still needs to spend it on the highest ROI projects first.

    THAT is where they fall down in accountability and transparency.

    RH

  77. Anonymous Avatar

    How the money is spent has a far bigger impact on fairness than where it is collected.

    RH

  78. there is much more transparency and accountability on a TOLL road because people are actually paying to use the road and expect it to be maintained and they know when money is being diverted.

    It's a much more transparent and accountable setup – but people still have to act if skulduggery is going on – the difference is that they know.

    With the gas tax you have no clue.

  79. you do know how much gas tax is collected at the local level – look at your county budge and you'll see a separate item of revenues from the state.

    There is also accountability for the LCI – because we do know how much 1% brings in to the locality and the LCI calculates how much of the second 1% a locality gets and this is why the folks in Fairfax can give a specific number for how much the LCI is costing the NoVa jurisdictions.

    You have no such equivalent with the gas tax.

    There is no itemized revenue coming to each locality as their share of the gas tax generated in their county.

    All of it goes to Richmond – and there is absolutely no revenue/expense accounting provided to each locality.

    You could not tell me if your life depended on it it how much money Facquier gets back from the state/VDOT each year in O&M and traffic improvement.

    And you could not tell me how much more you'd get for any kind of an increase.

    If the gas tax got increased 5 cents, you could not tell me where that 5 cents would be spent and no idea at all what part of it Facquier might get.

    So the gas tax works fundamentally different from the sales tax and tolls and there is virtually no transparency and accountability in the way that it is done.

    and because there is not – people have no way of knowing how a 5 cent increase would benefit them… and the roads they use – so they are opposed to increasing that tax because from their perspective it never comes back to them in benefits.

    The whole approach is corrupt.

    They use the "the roads are deteriorating and bridges are falling down so we have to have a tax increase" Approach but when you ask what roads and what bridges – there is no answer.

  80. Anonymous Avatar

    there is much more transparency and accountability on a TOLL road because people are actually paying to use the road and expect it to be maintained and they know when money is being diverted.

    ===============================

    Nonsense. You have already pointed out that some toll roads won;t pay their way, so money will have to be diverted TO them.

    Others are expected to have excess funds after the operators expenses and profits on top of the road costs, and money is expected to be diverted FROM those roads.

    Transparency is still an issue, either way.

    Either way tolls represent a new, addtional, and WASTEFUL
    tax that applies to only some people, and theefore amounts to yet more interegional transer of funds.

    RH

  81. tolls apply to people who ACTUALLY USE the roads instead of charging those who do not – and the toll is discretionary – unlike the tax which takes your money from you without a choice and spends it on roads you don't even use.

    Toll Roads are not without their problems but they are way more transparent because you KNOW what their finances are and YOU KNOW if the money is being diverted and you have the opportunity to do something about it.

    With taxes, you don't know squat much less able to do anything about it.

    They take your money and there is no transparency and no accountability.

    In a 'no mo tax' world – toll roads are not going to go away.

  82. Anonymous Avatar

    tolls apply to people who ACTUALLY USE the roads instead of charging those who do not – and the toll is discretionary – unlike the tax which takes your money from you without a choice and spends it on roads you don't even use.

    =================================

    We've been through this before and NONE of it is true. tolls are being siphoned off for transwit and other roads, they are not actually discretionary — give it up.

    I'm through arguing aver tolls, they are dumb idea, and even you have conceded the point.

    RH

  83. re: "I'm through arguing tolls"…

    promise? ;-0

  84. Anonymous Avatar

    How to save money on roads:

    "With transportation budgets in some areas quite literally between a rock and a hard place, several local governments are turning their least-used country roads from asphalt to gravel.

    In Michigan, 35 miles of asphalt were converted to gravel in 2009, while Gibson County, Indiana may abandon proposals to pave existing gravel roads and let some paved roads deteriorate.

    “The material just sort of breaks up,” Gibson County Commission President Bob Townsend told WFIE-TV. “We have machines that can break it up, but normally I think it just breaks up to the point that workers just start putting rock on it rather than patching material.”

    While some decry the proliferation of gravel roads as a “return to the stone age,” and residents of the rural roads worry about dust kicked up by passing cars, studies done after gravel conversions show that in low-traffic areas, crushed stone is is better than potholed pavement.

    Read More http://www.wired.com/autopia/#ixzz0fYDLZuMd"

    RH

  85. did you notice who was quoted?
    the county commissioner – their equivalent of the BOS.

    So.. what he was saying in effect was that in the tradeoff at the county level – they chose not to increase property taxes instead of paying more roads.

    This is, in my view, where that decision should be made.

    If voters don't like it, they can demand higher taxes for more/better roads on their properties.

  86. Anonymous Avatar

    If voters don't like it, they can demand higher taxes for more/better roads on their properties.

    =============================

    Sure, and wind up like the situation wth discontinuous sidewalks. I could just pay to pave the stretch in front of my house, but it doesn't do much good unless everyone plays along.

    My only point in making the post is that there ARE alternatives to raising more money for better roads.

    But since roads are the internet of the physical world letting roads get worse improves very little.

    ===============================

    "So.. what he was saying in effect was that in the tradeoff at the county level – they chose not to increase property taxes instead of paying more roads."

    —————————–

    He is a blithering idiot if in fact that is what he was saying.

    That is certainly NOT the tradeoff at the county level. In virginia the county is restricted by law to considering ONLY the county budget, which is complete idiocy.

    The county budget is a tiny part of overall county welfare and welfare of its citizens.

    The question here is not how much is spent, it is HOW WELL it is spent.

    After you add in the additional costs for damge due to stones and dust, paving the roads might well be cheaper. But air filters, bad fuel economy from bad air filters, tire and paint damage, plus the costs of having your yard and shrubs continuouously painted with dust amount to an "off budget" tax, so none of that affects the county coffers.

    And if the BOS actually believes that it does NOT affect county cofffers, then they truly are idiots.

    Besides which, any construction contractor who left roads in that condition would be brought up on environmental charges.

    RH

  87. none the less – in 46 other states, the locality through property taxes funds and takes care of local roads.

    And they prioritize roads the same way they do other services like law enforcement, schools, etc.

    there is nothing inherently incompetent about the local level being responsibility for these things.

    Alexandria and Henrico, and all cities and towns in Virginia are responsible for their own local roads and the vast majority of them seem to do just fine.

    And all of them make the same decisions about what roads to pave and which one will not be paved and why, etc.

  88. Anonymous Avatar

    Alexandria and Henrico, and all cities and towns in Virginia are responsible for their own local roads and the vast majority of them seem to do just fine.

    ===============================

    If I'm no mistaken this is not entirely correct. Thy manage the maintenance but they gstill get a stipend from the state.

    RH

  89. Anonymous Avatar

    In 2007 VDOT spend 8.3 million in Arlington and 6.2 mllion in Spotsy.

    RH

  90. Anonymous Avatar

    "One VDOT resident engineer commented that many
    urban counties want more authority in secondary road matters, but apart from the very largest
    counties, they do not want to have to spend any of their own funds. In this context, several
    interview respondents mentioned how a number of the state’s larger cities (which have more
    statutory responsibility for their roads than counties do) supplement their state allocations with
    significant amounts of local tax funds. Several resident engineers commented that citizens in
    their counties would probably have to be convinced that the same level of service (or better)
    could be provided by the county at no greater cost before they would approve a county roads
    takeover."

    RH

  91. Anonymous Avatar

    "In some of these situations, VDOT staff
    reported, cost overruns on items for which the county has taken responsibility (e.g., utility
    relocations) have created “huge problems and battles.” This experience suggests that counties
    may be unable and/or unwilling to absorb significant cost overruns. Similarly, having to absorb
    large maintenance cost overruns because of an unexpectedly severe winter or other natural
    events could be very problematic for an individual urban county."

    ============================

    Smaller maintenance units, like counties, simpy will not have the resource buffer needed to get over temporary cost hurdles. This will result in delay and higher costs for all.

    From the conservationist point of view delay is good, and so is higher costs as long as it hits the "developers", but this is a false strategy because higher road costs ultimately hurt everyone, whther the money is spent on roads or air filters and tires.

    RH

  92. 33 cities and towns and 2 counties in Virginia maintain their local roads and they do get a reimbursement rate from the state.

    You can think of that as cash instead of maintenance, operations and improvements in kind – either way the locality gets some of the gas tax back for their local use.

    what happens next though is that the locality then begins directly responsible to it's citizens for the roads.

    And if they don't like the way the county/city/town is doing the roads – they can tell their supervisor and if he don't listen, then he can get voted out.

    You can't vote out VDOT when they tell you they're going to put in a roundabout no matter what you think…

    eh?

  93. Anonymous Avatar

    "….what happens next though is that the locality then begins directly responsible to it's citizens for the roads."

    ===============================

    That's the theory. What actualy happens next is this….

    "A resident engineer for one of the larger urban
    counties said that residents of some of the more affluent subdivisions in his county objected to
    mechanized maintenance operations (e.g., ditching) on subdivision roads; they preferred for the
    work be done by hand."

    "KPMG Peat Marwick projected that if Fairfax County took over its secondary roads,
    increases in citizens' expectations would necessitate level of service increases ranging from
    100% to 300% for many maintenance and operations activities. Many of the projected increases
    were at the higher end of that range (KPMG Peat Marwick, 1990)."

    I'll bet you would hate it if the county took over the roads and then the citizens deamnded much higher taxes to pay for the road service they really want.

    Government being responsible to citizens works both ways. That is why rural governments hate it when newcomers move in and then demand better schools.

    RH

  94. not at all. As I have said over and over – if people are willing to pay higher taxes to get more services then so be it and the reverse is true also.

    People have more ability to affect how their taxes are used – at the local level than the state and Fed level.

    taxes at the local level have much more of a transactional nature to them because they can usually see better how the money got spent.

    Government that is closer to the people… etc.. and to bring this discussion back to Haiti…..

    government by fiat doesn't usually work very well

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