Musing on the Quality of the Transportation Experience

Alex Marshall, a former reporter for the Virginian-Pilot who covered metropolitan growth issues and went on to write, “How Cities Work: Suburbs, Sprawl and the Roads Not Taken,” has raised some interesting issues regarding peoples’ choices of transportation modes. The length of time it takes to complete the trip is a factor (and so, I might add, is the cost). In a piece distributed through citiwire.net, Marshall invites readers to consider the quality of the trip.

Money quote: “When it comes to transportation, time is an elastic, subjective, almost mystical thing. One minute spent traveling one way is not the same as another. But the “intangibles” are hard to introduce into official transportation debates.”

I hope Gov.-elect McDonnell is attuned to such nuances as he addresses transportation policy in Virginia. He seems to be of a mindset to raise and spend a lot of money. I hope he spends it wisely.


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93 responses to “Musing on the Quality of the Transportation Experience”

  1. another thing to contemplate is the concept of congestion and it's bigger cousin – gridlock.

    We keep hearing from the highway advocates that if we do not "invest" in more capacity that we will descend into congestion-induced economic strangulation for the given proposed area of "need".

    While I don't doubt that more traffic will lead to more congestion – what happens when new capacity is not added?

    We are told that there is economic loss. We get told that congestion directly relates to lost time and then.. there is where it gets a bit funky in my view – they put a price-tag on it.

    But as you point out – time is a mystical and…a fungible commodity.

    What is the cost damage if a surgeon is 30 minutes late for a scheduled surgery?

    How about a 20 minute delay is a pizza delivery?

    Can you really be "late" to shopping at Food Lion?

    We are told that business will flee an area where transportation is not tended to but I don't believe I've ever seen a ranked list of say the top ten "losers" in business investment – as a consequence of a congested transportation network.

    When we actually see a road proposal – do they ever put on it next to it's projected cost – the projected "savings" from congestion that will be reduced?

    I think some of my questions above play into the fact that most polls show around an 80% opposition rate to higher gasoline taxes while a majority favor tolls – because people like the idea of deciding on a per trip basis if that toll is "worth" it or not.

    I say all of this in the context of the impending Governorship of Mr. McDonnell who has promised to "do something" about transportation in Virginia WITHOUT raising taxes.

    So… if Mr. McDonnell is pro-business and pro-jobs and he thinks that transportation is vital to the Commonwealth – how much money does he think is "needed" and what exactly is the return on investment ?

    You know we actually do have a way to compute ROI on some roads – it's called tolls.

    I would submit that any new road that is said to be needed – be analyzed for ROI and if that analyses shows that it actually will have a positive ROI – THEN you can have a discussion as to whether you want to pay for it with tolls or tax dollars or both.

    Then you could put the compiled list in front of the voters for their approval.

    I'm not sure how the "no mo taxes" folks view the concept of people actually voting via referenda to tax increases but it does happen not infrequently when local transportation referenda pass – sometimes with impressive margins.

  2. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    Each day people line up for miles to cross a single bridge in San Francisco. They were doing that when I lived there in the 70's.

    Interstate 10 in LA is a parking lot a good part of the day. Is it because people just want to have a 50 mile long tailgate party?

    Seattle and Portland were sleepy little towns until Californians started moving there in the 80s. Did they do that for the narrow winding streets, or because Bill Gates and Intel were building empires?

    People follow opportunity, not roads. They have been doing this since the beginning of the country. All the roads in the world mean nothing when opportunity leaves. Just look at the Rust Belt or closer to home, TJ's capitol move from Williamsburg to Richmond.
    .

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Speaking of transportation, Fairfax County plans to file its 527 transportation study for Tysons Corner on or about Christmas Eve. "And what did Santa bring you, Secretary Pierce Homer?" He's lucky that he's leaving office soon.

    I suspect that, generally, the study will be quite good despite the lobbying attempts to the contrary by the landowners' henchmen. But the County is still under great pressure to "assume that a miracle will happen," such that people will just stop driving and take transit at levels that are higher at Tysons than in downtown Washington, D.C.

    Yet, we've not seen the County's estimate of the number of trips to, from and within Tysons Corner. Downtown D.C. has multiple rail lines; Tysons has a single spur. The addition of the Silver Line also means that it must share the single Potomac tunnel with the Orange and Blue Lines. Will service on the Orange Crush get worse to serve the needs of Tysons landowners for more density? But let's assume a miracle happens anyway.

    One thing Fairfax County could do to increase transit usage would be to eliminate any parking within 1/4mile of each of the four stations and drastically reduce it within 1/2 mile of the same. But keep in mind that all the buildings within those circles must compete with buildings in Reston, Arlington, Herndon, etc. that have free parking.

    The real shame is that Fairfax County permitted a few grifters, seeking short-term gains without actually investing in anything more than lobbyists, to waste years of time and lots of taxpayer dollars, instead of taking the existing Comp Plan for Tysons and improving it incrementally. We could have actually had a plan to put reasonable density at the four rail stations instead of a plan that will require the expansion of the Dulles Toll Road by three interchanges and five lanes between the Beltway and Hunter Mill Road, without having sufficient right-of-way.

    It is not politically feasible for such an expansion.

    TMT

  4. Of course a Devil's Advocate question about Tysons Corners is that presumably the "investors" would not want to end up with a congestion-strangled situation that ultimately would undermine their investment.

    right?

    so perhaps one question would be to the developers – "what level of LOS is required for Tysons Development and how do you think that need should be paid for"?

    In some respects, Tysons has become the poster child of the perceived/claimed/believed connection between transportation infrastructure and economic development.

    It would seem that if there is an actual connection that developers would not need to seek outside financing for what they propose but instead it would become self-supporting.

    Indeed – CDAs and Special Transportation Districts are already available – and used with the major fly in the ointment being what the target LOS should be.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    But the “intangibles” are hard to introduce into official transportation debates."

    I don't think so. These "intangibles" are among the most closely studied, most measured, and well understood issues in transportation.

    We know pretty well how far people will walk to a station and how long they will wait, for example.

    We are about to begin paying people to operate car pools: when we do that we will have put a price on what car pools are worth.

    RH

    RH

  6. " when we do that we will have put a price on what car pools are worth."

    not really.

    are we not already paying people to carpool by giving them a dedicated lane paid for by all tax dollars?

    if we were going to do what you claim – each carpool would get a reverse toll – money applied to their EZ-Pass account.

    right?

    who would pay for that?

    would you pay for it out of the gas tax?

    would that work better than charging $ for solo trips?

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    Time is not fungible,in the usual sense of the word. True, you can barter your time and labor for some other good, but only if you have the ability to plan ahead.

    Congestion simply wastes time (and energy) which cannot be interchanged for some other commodity, because it is gone for nothing.

    ——————————-

    "We keep hearing from the highway advocates that if we do not "invest" in more capacity that we will descend into congestion-induced economic strangulation for the given proposed area of "need"."

    Don't we hear the same argument from transit advocates?

    ——————————–

    "where it gets a bit funky in my view – they put a price-tag on it."

    Are you suggesting that you have never been annoyed by bad service? Not at a restaurant, DMV, service shop, or customer service window?

    And why is it that you are annoyed? Because they are wasting your valuable time.

    Typically, government values a statistical life at $7.5 million dollars. If you live to be 80, that works out to around $10.00 an hour. Which (I think) is what traffic engineers and economists use to calculate the cost of wasted time due to congestion.

    It's about half of the cost of a guy who earnes $41,000 a year, which is pretty close to the per capita income.

    It's not perfect, and you will obviously disagree, but at least it is consistent, meaning we can compare the cost of congestion in one place with that in another.

    RH

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    "…do they ever put on it next to it's projected cost – the projected "savings" from congestion that will be reduced?"

    Do they do that with transit? How much has METRO reduced area congestion?

    Probably none, and why not? Because every time someone gets on the METRO it makes another space available for someone to drive a car. Basically the same reason that we PERCIEVE that building roads does not reduce congestion.

    But we KNOW that this is a false perception because the number of cars, the number of drivers, and the number of miles driven has increased faster than the roads built. The number of miles traveled in total has increased faster than we have built roads AND transit combined.

    How do you expect to reduce congestion in that environment? You can't, and that wi why we have both road congestion AND transit congestion.

    Except in the areas where both roads AND transit are oversupplied and under used.

    Of COURSE we need more capacity. The only question is where to supply it that will provide the greatest payback.

    And that is INDEPENDENT of mode.

    RH

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    "You know we actually do have a way to compute ROI on some roads – it's called tolls."

    That's an odd way to compute ROI, but given the premise, why not apply it to all roads?

    I guarantee you what the result would be: under used roads would e used more.

    RH

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    "…THEN you can have a discussion as to whether you want to pay for it with tolls or tax dollars or both."

    At last yuu have recognized that the benefits of roads (or transit) accrue to more than just the users. There is NO WAY to justify charging ONLY the users for the value a road supplies.

    RH

  11. Anonymous Avatar

    "I don't believe I've ever seen a ranked list of say the top ten "losers" in business investment – as a consequence of a congested transportation network."

    Didn't we just have a conversation about the importance of airports in attracting and keeping regional business?

    RH

  12. " There is NO WAY to justify charging ONLY the users for the value a road supplies."

    Really?

    How does THAT "work" with Toll Roads?

    should we send everyone a bill for each guy that uses the toll road?

  13. Anonymous Avatar

    People follow opportunity, not roads.

    Yes, but opportunity often locates where transportation is available.

    When Microsoft was founded, there was plenty of transportation. Even Bill Gates never guessed what would happen next.

    RH

  14. Anonymous Avatar

    " when we do that we will have put a price on what car pools are worth."

    not really.

    are we not already paying people to carpool by giving them a dedicated lane paid for by all tax dollars?"

    Yes, but we have had a thirty year experiment with this and the car pool lanes are STILL underutilized.

    Why?

    Because we are not "paying" enough.

    That is why we are now planning to pay people additional amounts in cash.

    It is why we allow hybrids to use the car pool lanes.

    And it is why we are about to abandon the car pool lanes and turn them into toll lanes.

    That way, the people who have already paid for them – can pay for them again.

    But all of these ideas have one goal in common, which is to icrease the ROI on the (previsouly underutillized) car pool lanes.

    RH

  15. "Didn't we just have a conversation about the importance of airports in attracting and keeping regional business?"

    oh we have discussions all the time about the "importance" of something but we seldom quantify the costs relative to the benefits.

    People have more common sense with airports. They normally know that one is probably enough.

    Not so with roads….

    I'm not saying one is enough but rather we really don't know when we have "enough" nor do we have a real way to decide how much road we want to pay for and when to say "enough" .. that we're paying too much for roads.

    it's a totally subjective enterprise.

    We quantify LOS but we can't begin to say what it's worth to buy down LOS D to LOS B.. nor compare that to the economic benefits of doing the buy down.

    it basically boils down to how much money is available in the slush fund – and then who can successfully manipulate the allocation process to get your road chosen over other roads without once comparing the economic bang for the buck of one verses the other.

    when you look at a list of "needed" roads – how would you rank them?

  16. Anonymous Avatar

    The more you use a road the more th eROI oes up, until the point at which it becomes congested, at which point it starts going down.

    Once it becomes congested you are wasting esources and wasting money. It is beyond me why some people who claim to be conservationists calim that "congestion is our friend".

    RH

  17. Anonymous Avatar

    Tysons is alrady strangled. After the METRO expansion it will still be strangled. And after the tool road expansion it will still be strangled.

    Why, because as Darrel points out, people follow opportunity, not roads.

    What Tysons represents is too much opportunity in too little space.

    But, once the opportunity is there, sufficient capacity to srvic it benefits those who use the capacity as much as it benefits those that provide the opportunity.

    The idea that ONLY the developer pursuing those nefarious short term gains should pay for the benefits ultimately provided, is simply foolishness.

    I sell hay. But if my hay customers are able to travel conveniently and inexpensively from their horse estates to Tysons, then it benefits me and I should pay accordingly.

    Here's my fifty cents.

    RH

  18. I don't think congestion is our friend but I also don't think until you can accurately quantify it that you can put a real world value on it.

    In theory – if congestion "costs" then people should be willing to pay to buy it down – right?

    so if a toll road saves you more money than you would lose from congestion then it's worth the trade – right?

  19. Anonymous Avatar

    "it's a totally subjective enterprise."

    That's your opinion.

    My opinion is that it is only subjective because we have not agreed on how to go about measuring it. We can, and do measure such things all the time.

    Every time we agree to do, or not do, a project we put a value on it. The fact that we never bothered to find out what it is, is beside the point.

    As you put it, we can't get anywhere because the only thing we agree on is what we disagree on.

    RH

  20. " What Tysons represents is too much opportunity in too little space."

    then why would you want to allow more development?

  21. Anonymous Avatar

    A reasonable density at the four Tysons stations will guarantee they are never cost effective.

    RH

  22. " My opinion is that it is only subjective because we have not agreed on how to go about measuring it. We can, and do measure such things all the time."

    the folks who want more roads are not restricted from advancing objective criteria.

    but the advocates bring the proposals forward without objective justifications so the folks who are being asked to pay have the perfect right to require justification for turning over their money – no?

  23. Anonymous Avatar

    "In theory – if congestion "costs" then people should be willing to pay to buy it down – right?

    so if a toll road saves you more money than you would lose from congestion then it's worth the trade – right?"

    Yes.

    But you would be overpaying if ONLY the users and not all the other beneficiaries pay for the road.

    We figure congestion costs $10, an hour, according to the arguments above. If the toll road saves ten minutes on an hour long trip then the savings is worth about $1.70 cents.

    Try to get a toll road builder to build a road with that kind of toll.

    Now you can see why the toll road argument is bogus. It is because the user pays idea is bogus. If the road saves me time and I get to work on time because of it, then it saves my employer money.

    That is why the developers, the users and the generla public all have a stake in it.

    Rather than starting with the bogus idea of tolls, the right place to satart is to figure out how the various stakeholders actually benefit (absent political histrionics) and then figure out what the most efficient way to collect the money proportionately is.

    After you slice and dice and average and sort and collect and disburse, nine times out of then the most efficient way to handle it is some kind of general tax. Otherwise the transacion costs (and associated political maneuvering) eat you alive.

    RH

  24. don't the people who pay tolls decide if it's worth it or not to them the same they would for a big gulp or a subscription to the Wall Street Journal?

    Why would you want to impose on them your idea of what the "worth" of the road is?

    Isn't the road "worth" what people are willing to pay ?

    Using your approach – we'd do what to the tolls on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge?

    Would you have others who don't use that facility pay for it?

    why?

  25. Anonymous Avatar

    the folks who want more roads are not restricted from advancing objective criteria.

    And the people who DON'T want the roads are not restricted for rejecting thse criteria.

    That's why we have to AGREE on the measuring stick first. In the present dialogue we have no such agreement.

    Is Congestion worth $10 a person hour, zero, or $40? people opposed will always argue that it is subjective and cannot be measured simultaneously with taking actions which do exactly that.

    rh

  26. Anonymous Avatar

    There is no oint in bringing five pound of cheescake to market if the other side is free to claim it isn't five pounds.

    My customers ask me how much my bales weigh and I tell them it doesn't make any difference what the bales weigh: they are $125 a ton.

    That is beyond some people, apparently, because it gets me the strangest looks.

    RH

  27. Anonymous Avatar

    Isn't the road "worth" what people are willing to pay ?

    Here we go again.

    How would you know if there is no option, and no opportunity for another vendor to provide an option?

    ———————————

    Isn't the road "worth" what people are willing to pay ?

    No. The road is worth whatever it costs. Thats where the value of the road is. What people are willing to pay has nothing to do with hat the road is worth. What they are willing to pay merely defines the ROI based on direct usage.

    The actual ROI is higher than that. I won the last gas station before you enter the bridge. I put up a sign "Last gas for 35 miles".

    I benefit from the bridge even if I never use it. Shouldn't I pay for the benefits I get?

    Here is my fifty cents.

    RH

    You are approaching this as if roads represent a free market.

  28. " And the people who DON'T want the roads are not restricted for rejecting thse criteria."

    it you want others to pay then they have the right to decide if it is worth THEIR money – right?

  29. Anonymous Avatar

    Some of my customers buy gas from me even though they never cross the brdge themselves. I have to pay for the benefit I get from the bridge and I bury the costs in my overhead.

    My customers who never use the bridge don't think they should have to pay the portion of my overhead that is due to paying my share for the bridge.

    They are idiots.

    RH

  30. " The road is worth whatever it costs. Thats where the value of the road is. What people are willing to pay has nothing to do with hat the road is worth. What they are willing to pay merely defines the ROI based on direct usage."

    nope.

    if you spend more money building the road than people are willing to pay to use it – you lose.

    this is why WalMart does not sell stuff below cost guy and this is why they won't offer stuff for sale that won't sell at a profit.

    whenever you're dealing with a quid-pro-quo transaction those forces are in play.

    people don't really want to know the cost per ton of your hay.. they want to know how much it will cost THEM for a bale.

    some price hay per bale and some per ton but the folks who sell easier have a clear price that is easily understood by the prospective buyer – again back to the "what do I get for my money"?

  31. roads are not free markets but neither are a lot of things but you still end up with what people are willing to pay (or not).

    you make choices about where to live, work or conduct economic activity and the availability or non-availability of "free" or "toll" roads would be part of your calculation.

    and if you don't have a billion dollars to build a toll road – you're going to have to go borrow the money and I can assure you that when they ask you about the tolls and revenues that your answer of "the roads costs what it costs" will not get you the financing you'd seek.

    Now if you already had a billion bucks and you were stupid enough to not figure out the toll road cost vs it's likely revenue then you'd either be a government or a soon-to-be bankrupt individual messing around with inherited money.

  32. Anonymous Avatar

    " And the people who DON'T want the roads are not restricted for rejecting thse criteria."

    it you want others to pay then they have the right to decide if it is worth THEIR money – right?"

    You are deliberately missing the point. It isn't about their money until they agree on what it is they are buying. Without that agreement they don't have the right to anything.

    It is like arguing with me over price based on what a bale weighs. It is idiotic because we have no standard for a bale: we do have a standard for a ton: my bales, whatever they are, are $125 a ton.

    First we need to agree on what congestion costs: so much a minute, so much a ton of CO2, so much an accident. They are going to be average amounts some people think THEIR time is worth more (or less) BUT THAt doesn't prevent them from agreeing on an average, any more than it prevents thme form agreeing on the length of a meter.

    Once you solve THAT argument, then you can set about deciding what the ROI of a project is: whether it is worth more or less than some other project.

    It doesn't even matter, for the most part, whether your agreement is correct: once you have it the priorities or the ranking of road projects will be pretty much the same. I can sell cloth by the yard or by the square foot,or by the meter: the market will respond the same, because we agree on what is a yard a meter and a square foot.

    What you are doing is simply refusing to agree, so that no price and no priority can be set. Which suits your agenda of preventing road construction.

    Your other approach is to construct a selective "user pays' argument such that the number of "users" is so small that the price is prohibitive. That's why we come up with outlandish toll predictions or prices: the costs for the benefits recieved are not comprehensive.

    It is like defining a Stirling engine as a perpetual motion machine by drawing the sytem boundary to exclude the heat source.

    RH

  33. Anonymous Avatar

    "roads are not free markets but "…neither are a lot of things but you still end up with what people are willing to pay (or not)."

    If they are not willing to pay, then they will pay by doing without.

    Whether they actually save money by being unwilling to pay is another matter entirely.

    Whether they actually save money by being unwilling to pay and doing without is not a matter of opinion. They either will save money by doing without or they won't.

    What they believe has nothing to do with it.

    What they are willing to do instead has nothing to do with it.

    What they are willing to pay or not has nothing to do with it.

    Whether they know the correct answer or not has nothing to do with it.

    Building and p[aying for th eroad has one set of costs and benefits and not building the road and not using has another set of costs and benefits.

    One will have a lower cost benefit ratio than the other whether we know what it is or not and whether we agree on what it is or not.

    The one with the lower cost benefit ratio will benefit us the most, and it is just stupid to claim that we cannot agree on how to go find out because it is "unknowable", "subjective", o5r because it affects a future we cannot see.

    RH

  34. " You are deliberately missing the point. It isn't about their money until they agree on what it is they are buying. Without that agreement they don't have the right to anything."

    they have a right to NOT BUY – don't they?

  35. " First we need to agree on what congestion costs: so much a minute, so much a ton of CO2, so much an accident. They are going to be average amounts some people think THEIR time is worth more (or less) BUT THAt doesn't prevent them from agreeing on an average,"

    you seem to think that YOUR line of reasoning should replace the person who is paying.

    ha ha ha ha ha

    the person paying is the one who decides ..

    that's why they call it a quid pro quo transaction

  36. " once you have it the priorities or the ranking of road projects will be pretty much the same."

    that would be in the eyes of those who have to pay – no?

  37. " What you are doing is simply refusing to agree, so that no price and no priority can be set"

    the price, the priorities are decided by the folks who would have to pay.

    if they don't like the proposition, they are free to say no and they do.

  38. Anonymous Avatar

    "and if you don't have a billion dollars to build a toll road – you're going to have to go borrow the money and I can assure you that when they ask you about the tolls and revenues that your answer of "the roads costs what it costs" will not get you the financing you'd seek."

    Not only does the road cost what it costs but it is EQUALLY TRUE that the "not road" costs what it costs.

    ——————————–

    But you already know that the road cots a billion dollars. You have agreed that is what the road is worth, or you would not be out looing for financing. Now you are trying to project the ROI.

    You would have a lot better luck getting your financing if you included all the beneficiearies and not just the actual users, becaus your base is larger.

    As I said before, the whole point of "promoting" the idea of toll roads is to artificially reduce the base, knowing that it makes the roads unlikely to begin with.

    It is an argument that is intellectually dishonest, and consequently one that promotes the idea of stealing.

    The "Other Side" doesn't have to get a billion dollars to build the "not road" and they don't have ot present and equal justification based on agreed standards to get the "not road" even if it actuall costs more money.

    All they have to do is say no.

    That billion dollars is still going to be spent – on something. Whatever that is will have ITS own set of costs and benefits. And they will be more or less than the road or the not road.

    Whether we know it or not.

    RH

  39. " The one with the lower cost benefit ratio will benefit us the most, and it is just stupid to claim that we cannot agree on how to go find out because it is "unknowable", "subjective", o5r because it affects a future we cannot see."

    you cannot force someone to pay if they don't know the cost-benefit but want to know.

    they can – without you providing that data – decide that they don't want the deal.

    they are FREE to do that guy.

    there is no law that says they must pay even if they don't agree on the data.

    You're philosophy – all along – seems rooted in the concept of a benevolent 3rd party who has the right to force people to pay if HE thinks it's a good deal.

    sorry – no dice.

    the buyer ALWAYS gets to decide and he decides based on what he believes – not what someone else believes.

  40. Anonymous Avatar

    "if they don't like the proposition, they are free to say no and they do."

    That is like "disliking" a "bale" of hay or a "rick" of wood. It is meaningless to dislike a yard of cloth with out first agreeing what a yard is.

    What you are suggesting is that it is politically OK to do something that (might be) provably against the public interest.

    There cannot be any ethical or moral basis for that argument: government has no business doing anything that isn't in the public interest and for the public benefit.

    It used to be politically OK to let the financial interests run amok. WE didn't want to spend the money to engineer, build and police a proper financial highway and we didn't.

    It cost us a lot of money not to build that road. And now we can see that it was ethical bankruptcy that led us to travel in a financial quagmire.

    RH

    RH

  41. " You have agreed that is what the road is worth, or you would not be out looing for financing. "

    it doesn't matter what YOU think the road is worth if you are seeking financing. Those who would be providing the financing would be wanting that info.

    And if you fail to convince them that the return on investment will be positive – you won't get your toll road.

  42. " What you are suggesting is that it is politically OK to do something that (might be) provably against the public interest"

    well who would decide whether or not something is "in the public interest" if not the public?

    If you have 80% of the "public" opposed to a gas tax increase for more roads – wouldn't that qualify as a "public interest" issue – decided by the "public"?

    who else would you have deciding?

  43. Anonymous Avatar

    "You're philosophy – all along – seems rooted in the concept of a benevolent 3rd party who has the right to force people to pay if HE thinks it's a good deal."

    I have never said or suggested any such thing. All I said is that whether we do something or not there are costs to be considered. We can do a good job of it or we can do a lousy job of it. A benevolent third party might do a good job or a lousy job, but whatever choice is made or whoever makes it won;t change the end result: we are either better off or not.

    We will never know as long as we refuse to look. We will never know as long as we refuse to agree on even how to look.

    What you are arguing is that we are better off based on how the greatest number of people feel.

    Nonsense.

    We could agree unanimously that we would feel better off without gravity. And after a true tally of all the costs and benefits we would be either unanimously right or unanimously wrong.

    But we will never know if we can't agree on how to add. We can agree on how to add without knowing anything about gravity.

    What you are saying is that we will be happier and better off with a majority in ignorance.

    I hope we know beter than that.

    RH

  44. Anonymous Avatar

    I will say this: if you have a third party who is not politically aligned with a desired answer, he is more likely to arrive at something close to the truth than those promoting agenda driven science.

    What I'm suggesting is that we can do a better job of designing a procedure that will produce desired (profitable) results regardless of the political faction driving the bus.

    Just because you get to drive the bus doesn't mean you get to select the route.

    RH

  45. I'm saying the person who makes the decision to pay money in exchange for perceived benefits decides.

    and no.. optimal conditions are hardly ever the result.

    witness the fellow paying money for cigarettes

    or buying a BMW when a Corolla would do the same basic job.

    if you're looking for a society that makes all decisions – "educated" decisions you're pretty naive except that you tend to imply that it's GOT to be the JOB of SOMEONE to decide the best choices or else we'll "waste" resources.

    Well guy.. a "free society" guarantees that we will "waste".

    The only places where this is not the case are usually referred to as authoritarian… – a concept that both you and EMR seem to favor at times – for even opposite reasons – you both see changes that are "necessary" be done to save people from their own dumb decisions.

    In other words, people should not be allowed to "waste"….

  46. " Just because you get to drive the bus doesn't mean you get to select the route"

    if enough people don't want to go where that bus goes – no bus.

    so yes.. customers DO get to decide the bus route.

  47. " What I'm suggesting is that we can do a better job of designing a procedure that will produce desired (profitable) results regardless of the political faction driving the bus."

    the current system is market-based and politically-driven.

    how would you change it without introducing an authoritarian context?

    you need to be at least true to your principles here …

    you seem to support someone besides the buyer and seller deciding what is the best deal.

    The market – by definition let's the principles decide.

    Where a 3rd party is introduced, it generates black markets.

    as long as you have a currency and a society that allows people to hold currency and to exchange it – I don't see how you impose "better" on the transactions.

  48. Anonymous Avatar

    "If you have 80% of the "public" opposed to a gas tax increase for more roads – wouldn't that qualify as a "public interest" issue – decided by the "public"?"

    Absolutely not.

    The public interest isn't decided by what 80% think. It isn't decided by whther they are for or against a gas tax. The public interest is decided by whether they turn out to be better off with or without the tax. We don;t know the answerto hat and we can;t find out by asking that question.

    It is the wrong question. Overly simplistic and designed to elicit a certain response.

    The right question is whether you would rather spend $600 per person and get back $640 in benefits or would you rathe spend $500 per person and get back benefits of $450.

    Let them vote on that proposition. Then after the votes are tallied turn the cards over. If spending $600 per person and getting back $640 is the result of NOT having the road, then the result of that vote would mean you don't get the road.

    But what you DON't get is to argue over how the analysis is done: you have to solve that argument before you do the analysis.

    If you want to vote on something subjective, the do that, and do it subjectively. Hold a referendum: "What $ value should be assigned for time lost due to congestion?"

    If 80% feel that their time is valueless, then that will make congestion relief harder to justify. If 80% feel their time is worth $50 an hour then that will make big tolls easier to justify.

    Nobody has ever asked that questionin a general, binding election.

    Instead, we come up with the answer to that (crucial) question based on the efforts of consultants and professors: benevolent third parties, if you will.

    RH

  49. the public decides if they are presented with the data you suggest whether they agree or not.

    the public also decides if the data is not presented to them.

    at the end – the public decides – based on whatever data is presented to them (or not).

    if someone "thinks" that the public does not properly understand the trade-offs, then they are free to try to educate the public but at the end of the day – if the public is not educated then they still hold the decision.

  50. " Nobody has ever asked that questionin a general, binding election."

    you are free to provide such information PRIOR to the referendum though.. and I don't recall anyone providing it least of all the proponents of the projects.

    That's what I'm telling you – that the economic case is not made even by those who claim economic benefits. They basically subjectively claim benefits without supporting evidence… and those who would have to pay – get to decide based on whatever evidence has been presented.

    and to my knowledge, I've never seen a road proposal justified economically – only the claim.

  51. Anonymous Avatar

    if enough people don't want to go where that bus goes – no bus.

    And why is that? No ROI.

    It has nothing to do with how people FEEL about the bus. It is because IN FACT the bus makes no money.

    You might have a majority that LOVES the bus. They might be willing to PAY to support the bus, even if they themselves don't ride it. They are willing to pay to support it for the unfortunate other guy. They are willing to pay to support it because they believe they benefit by reduced congestion.

    But regardless of what they believe or how they feel, if the bus is riding empty there is no ROI.

    What you are suggesting is that as long as the majority wants it, we should not count the passengers or report the cost of operations.

    What I'm suggesting is that this is crazy thinking.

    What I'm suggesting is how do you know what people want, when you refuse to present the known facts?

    How do you know what people want when you presume to know their values without asking, or equally, if you presume their values are unknowable, without asking.

    You have three choices, spend $600 per person and get back $640, Spend $300 and get back $310, Spend $10 and get back $1l.

    Vote on that and see what you get. A lot of people will vote to spend $10 and get back $11. They "saved" $590 in taxes AND they got a better ROI – 10%.

    But other people will vote to spend the $600 because they are better off at the end of the year – $40 instead of $1.

    RH

  52. Anonymous Avatar

    "and to my knowledge, I've never seen a road proposal justified economically – only the claim."

    I beleive you would refuse to acknowledge the economics, whatever they were.

    That's why I suggest we agree on the rules of engagement. We are arguing over the wrong things in ways that are sure to cause us to make bad decisions.

    RH

  53. Anonymous Avatar

    .. and I don't recall anyone providing it least of all the proponents of the projects.

    Or the opponents either.

    Least of all them, in fact.

    That's why we need to have rules about what must be disclosed, and on what basis. We need them such that the burden of proof is equal on both sides and both sides use the commonly accepted values for intangibles.

    In tennis the ball is on the line or not. No matter who you are, or how much you scream we have agreed ahead of time how calls are made and by who (a disinterested third party). There is no "instant replay" , no protest.

    But that doesn't mean there are not films, or that they are not reviewed. Umpires get scored and rated, too.

    ——————————-

    .. and I don't recall anyone providing it least of all the proponents of the projects…

    Right, so we need to do a beter job. We don't do it now because we are more interested in having "our party" win than we are in being better off.

    We start with the assumption that if "our party" wins then we will be better off.

    We start with the assumption that if enough people agree with us, then we must be right, not only that, but we must HAVE the right to be right as well.

    None of that necessrily makes us better off.

    RH

  54. " What I'm suggesting is how do you know what people want, when you refuse to present the known facts?"

    People know what they want. If you think they don't know then you're free to use whatever means are available to influence them but at the end of the day – they decide.

    People are not uniformly opposed to making informed decisions you know.

    If you want more than 20% in favor of higher taxes – you – as a person who believes the 80% have erred in their thinking – are free to present to them additional info but the key thing here for you to understand is that it is not the responsibility of those making the decision to avail themselves of the info you believe should be presented.

    That job is left to you and to whoever else wants more than 20% to support higher taxes.

    and I just want to point out that that job is done successfully in two transportation issues.

    The first is local transportation referenda where there has been a record of reasonably good success across No. Va.

    The second is tolls. more than twice as many people support tolls over taxes.

    Now you seem to think they've made a wrong judgement about being more in favor of tolls than taxes.

    You're entitled to your opinion of course. You're even entitled to show the the err of their ways.

    But you're not entitled to choose for them – for their own good.

    you gotta reconcile yourself to the fact that we are a market-based free society and that allows people to make their own decisions – right or wrong.

    One would hope that 80% would not make a wrong judgement but even if they do – their decision still is paramount.

    Remember – of this 80% – a substantial number WILL AGREE to higher taxes via referenda and tolls – which – as you point out – are higher than taxes.

    but in doing so – they are choosing which roads to build – not someone else.

  55. " Or the opponents either.

    Least of all them, in fact."

    you mean the folks who would have to pay?

    they don't have to show anything to justify not paying.

  56. " Right, so we need to do a beter job. We don't do it now because we are more interested in having "our party" win than we are in being better off."

    it's the way our system works.

    it's a pretty dysfunctional system – I would agree.

    The only problem is- it's better than the other alternatives (at least in most folks minds).

  57. Anonymous Avatar

    "They basically subjectively claim benefits without supporting evidence… and those who would have to pay – get to decide based on whatever evidence has been presented.___________"

    ——————

    Aren't you saying that they are reallly making choices based on evidence that has NOT BEEN presented?

    Aren't you assuming that those who "would have to pay" have no costs if they say no? And isn't that because they have not presented any evidence?

    Both sides need to do better and both sides need to have to obey the same rules of evidence. Otherwise the "do nothings" get a free pass.

    RH

  58. Anonymous Avatar

    You think it is OK that the burden of proof is on the other side.

    I believe it allows you to impose costs on them "burden of proof" which you do not have to bear.

    Imposing costs on someone else for your benefit is stealing. It is as unethical as requiring black people to pay for burglar alarms for white people.

    RH

  59. yes – I believe that you cannot take people's money because one believes they owe it but can't prove it.

    that's called stealing also.

  60. Anonymous Avatar

    "yes – I believe that you cannot take people's money because one believes they owe it but can't provee it."

    So it is OK to impose cost on other people by saying no, but not OK to impose costs on other people by saying yes.

    And a different standard of proof applies if you are saying yes, rather than no.

    No gets a free pass to impose costs on others but yes does not.

    Is that it?

    RH

  61. Anonymous Avatar

    Whether you say yes or no to a particular project that action will have costs and benefits. I believe you should take the action that results in the lowest costs and highest benefits.

    You don't care waht the costs and benefits are for turning down a project, but require a high stanard for approving a project.

    Is that correct?

    RH

  62. " So it is OK to impose cost on other people by saying no"

    no to taking your money for someone else?

    no.. you cannot take money from people because you make a claim that costs have been imposed on you.

    Trying proving that in court.

    Not a single country works this way – None.

    you're so far out in LA LA land on this …. it's a 1st cousin to your original "right to pollute" ideas that have been thoroughly discredited also.

    NO. is that clear?

    NO. NADA.

    comprehendo hombre?

    You are NOT ALLOWED to CLAIM that costs have been imposed on you and that others must pay to compensate you by fiat.

    and that's true even if you proved the costs – which you cannot do with any reasonably-accepted logic that others might agree with.

  63. " I believe you should take the action that results in the lowest costs and highest benefits."

    DEMONSTRABLE to the parties that will have to pay to build it.

    otherwise they can say no thanks.

    you have to provide compelling evidence that convinces those that pay.

  64. Anonymous Avatar

    i've always wondered why are so few "redundant routes" in NoVa.

    Here in richmond, there are usually about 2-4 differently way to get to same place.

  65. There is a perception by many folks who live in the suburbs that a single entrance is a choke-point where everyone who comes and goes can be observed and people up to no good would less likely to target places with only a single escape route.

    whether this is perception or verifiable statistically would be interesting to know but the perception is reality for many.

    It's not that they want something for themselves that they know will screw up traffic for everyone including themselves. Many do not connect the dots on this.

    People who seek the suburbs are already tuned into what they feel is a place that is more safe and secure than other residential options that are more accessible to the public at large.

    The question is – should everyone's gas taxes be used to provide what are essentially a different/better class of access or should the folks who want more secure access pay for it as an amenity?

  66. Anonymous Avatar

    DEMONSTRABLE to the parties that will have to pay to build it.

    otherwise they can say no thanks.

    ——————————-

    Without any demonstration whatsoever.

    No demonstration that their refusal isn't costing others more than he costs they complain about shouldering themselves.

    So I cannot spend YOUR money without DEMONSTRATING to YOUR satisfaction that the money is well spent, but you can opt to SAVE MY money without demonstrating to MY satisfaction that it is well saved.

    This is asymmetric warfare.

    It is a license to steal.

    It makes no sense, and it is an unethical position to hold in a democracy with equal rights for all.

    Your option not to spend money without adequate proof to yourself may well cost us both more than we save.

    You are demanding a right for yourself that you are unwilling to grant to others.

    RH

  67. Anonymous Avatar

    no.. you cannot take money from people because you make a claim that costs have been imposed on you.

    Trying proving that in court.

    ———————————

    Idiotic.

    That is EXACTLY what environmental groups have done.

    RH

  68. Anonymous Avatar

    The question is – should everyone's gas taxes be used to provide what are essentially a different/better class of access or should the folks who want more secure access pay for it as an amenity?

    ———————————

    Isn't that exactly the ROVA vs NOVA argument in reverse?

    ROVA already has a different/better class of service, which they don;t pay for and are not willing to extend equally to others.

    RH

  69. Anonymous Avatar

    You don't have equal rights with differing burdens of proof.

    RH

  70. isn't this the same position that you hold with your belief that you have a right to pollute and others must pay you not to?

    isn't this the same basic theme?

  71. Anonymous Avatar

    that you have a right to pollute and others must pay you not to?

    It is impossible not to pollute. Everyone does it. What we are arguing about is a question of degree. There is now serious talk about regulating cow farts, so why not human ones?

    There is serious talk about prohibiting the land application of manure, but where does human manure go?

    We stringently regulate automotive emissions, but not housohold emissions which are nearly as great.

    It is impossible not to pollute, and therefore you must have some miniscule right to do so. If you wish to have your neighbor pollute less than that, then you must expect to pay him for the privilege you get.

    And likewise, you should expect to get paid if he makes undue demands on yourself.

    Now, consider any kind of manufacturing. It will produce some pollution. We can regulate the amount of pollution which will cause the manufacurer to incur increased production costs. We will pay those costs when we buy his product.

    Yes, absolutely, you do have to pay your neighbor, and your manufactuer, not to pollute.

    This is not "my theory" this is a matter of the facts on the ground.

    Sure, in the case of Kepone and DDT we simply shut the manufacturers down. We don't pay them and we incur no costs. (Some people will dispute that we incur no costs.)

    Now, are you trying to tell me that is a model we can use for the entire economy?

    Lets shut down everything and have zero pollution, zero economy, and zero way to make a living.

    Our forests will disappear in a decade, when people cut them down to stay warm. Pass a law against that, too.

    I have the same right to not be polluted by you as you have by me. That does not mean zero pollution, otherwise one of us is disputing the right to life and livliehood of the other.

    We do not have equal rights if some have a different burden of proof from others.

    This is the essential ethical problem of the environmental movement. They have not come to grips with the problem that their canons dictate that some will live and some will die, or not exist to begin with.

    RH

  72. Anonymous Avatar

    The fact of the matter is this: if you came to me with a sample to analyze for pollution, I would create more waste to be disposed of than the sample you brought me.

    There is nothing you can do without creating waste, and enough waste of anything consitutes pollution. This is the case with CO2. CO2 is a naturally ocurring gas that we and the plants we depend on cannot do without. And yet we now have "too much" of it and it is now controlled by the EPA as a pollutant.

    The situation is complicated by the fact that some CO2 is naturally occuring – respiration. And some is the result of recycling CO2 which was once naturally occuring – fossil fuels.

    Now, suppose it turns out that it is far cheaper to eliminate naturally occuring CO2 than it is to eliminate burning fossil fuels. Suppose someone invents a really inexpensive way to prevent the permafrost from emitting millions of tons of CO2 as it thaws.

    More realistically, suppose it turns out that we discover that returning to "all natural" horse drwn conveyances will release far more CO2 than our present fleet of vehicles.

    If either of those scenarios come to pass, what do you suppose will be the result?

    Yes, absolutely. If you expect your neighbor not to pollute, then you should expect to pay him. And you should expect to get paid the same amount for limiting YOUR pollution.

    From a practical standpoint, the costs of all those transactions would be prohibitive, and so we will simply ignore some small amounts of pollution. It will be a given, which is indistiguishable from a right.

    RH

  73. Anonymous Avatar

    What intrigues me is that we have engaged in this public dialogue for years, and yet, very seldom does anyone else interject a comment.

    All I can figure is that either we have elucidated our respective positions so well no one has anything to add, or else, no one else cares.

    RH

  74. Anonymous Avatar

    Speaking of transportation experience, I recently bought a new Prius. My wife took over the old one and we are selling her 24 valve, 200 HP, six speed Jetta.

    If anyone wants a car that is fun to drive, this is it. Looks like a sleeper and runs like a rocket. I drive it so seldom that I forget how much fun it is.

    Until you get the fuel bill.

    For high test.

    The new Prius, on the other hand has more power than the old one, and gets better mileage. It is a true example of more efficiency at work.

    I generally averaged 47.5 MPG on my old one and this one is knocking back very close to 50 MPG and it isn't broken in yet. I have one fifteen mile stretch on my wyay to work where it routinely racks up 75 MPG – in either direction, so it is not a matter of elevation.

    On top of that, it has every bell and whistle imaginable, including some I cannot use: garage dooor opener and IPD connection. I may have to trade in my phone for one with blue tooth, though.

    The satellite radio offer American Right Wing Radio and American Left Wing Radio, so in a matter of minutes youcan have your absolute fill of both flavors of BS befor you switch to symphony or opera.

    Even the GPS is safety oriented. If you are moving, it won't accept directions except by voice command, so you can keep yur eyes on the road. Even so, it has far too many distractions.

    The mileage computer has alerted me to an experiment that I mean to complete. Sometimes I drive throught the three new roundabouts on Route 50 near Gilberts Corner.

    In addition to being roundabouts these things incorproate a speed slowing chicane on entering and leaving each roundabout.

    The way these things are laid out, you have to bear right and then left before enetrinth the roundabout to the right. Then wyou bear left to go around th eroundabout and right to exit. Then youhave another gratiuitous left before you bear right again to gain the straightaway.

    You will go through this tire scrubbing drill three times, where previously there was one traffic light.

    Truth be told, traffic does flow through the three roundabouts better than it did through the traffic light. But, driving the Prius, the traffic light only cost me time, because it would shut off while waiting.

    The three traffic circles, on the other hand, cause a noticible decrease in the MPG.

    The experiment I have in mind is to determine the total distance throught the three circles. Then reset the MPG computer so that I can compare milgae before, during and after the circles.

    My proposition is that the traffic circles reduce MPG by at least 25%.

    I'll report the results in a few months.

    RH

  75. Anonymous Avatar

    There are a couple of other issues with these circles.

    First, they are too small. The rule is that you must yield to someone in the circle. But they are so small that somone can enter the circle and be on top of you before you realize you must give way.

    Compared to the traffic light ther is a much greater uncertainty quotient, which I believe will lead to more accicents. Particularly since you now have thirteen intersections where you previously had four.

    The traffic circles have a central garden, bounded by conventional concrete curbing. This is encircled by a pavement level brick circle, which deliniates the inner area of the driving pavement.

    The circles ars so samll that a long tractor trailer hugging the outside of the circle will still have his rear wheels on the brick.

    This is going to be a maintenance issue. In fact, vitually all the curbs, both on the inside and the outside of the circles are already blackened with tire marks.

    I have seen tractor trailers simply ignore the pavement and drive over the brick. You can imagine how long that will last.

    And it gets worse. Traveling westbound, the first traffic circle is on the cresr of a hill. Enetering the circle you cannot see the traffic in the circle you are supposed to yield to.

    The second traffic circle is at the bottom of a hill, so that youmust brake excessivley going into it and then accelerate to go up the hill on exiting. It is a natural born gas waster.

    Then the first two are single lane circles but the third one, at 15 and 50 is a dual lane circle, just to make things mroe confusing.

    This is what they call "traffic calming". What I call it is "High Anxiety".

    These circle do move traffic better than the traffic light did. But it did not come at no cost. Furthermore, one of the original arguments for a traffic circle was that it would cost less and use less land than an overpass.

    Somehow, that argument got forgooten when they put in four traffic circles and wiped out any use for a significant parcle of land which was orphande in the triangle of three of the circles.

    And all of this cost $9 million (projected, not actual) compared to thirteen million for an overpass.

    I predict they will eventually replace three of the four circles with an overpass. I do not know the status of the orpned land, but I suspect the state must have purchased it, because it is otherwise useless.

    When they put in the overpass that land will make a nice place for a rest stop and weigh station. Assuming we can ever afford to keep them open again. If Larry has his way we will just pass a law against peeing.

    Lets be clear here. I believe the circles were an improvement. They could have done a lot better. Bottonm line is that the Middleburg Establishment suceeded in their goals for "traffic calming". It is now faster, safer, and more conevenient for me to take another route, even if it means more miles, higher speeds, and more fuel consumed.

    RH

  76. Anonymous Avatar

    One more note. My drivewyar fronts on a state road. After the recenrt snow it was clear and clean to bare pavement before I got my driveway plowed.

    This is a Much better performance ont he part of VDOT than a few years ago and certainly better than the last major storm.

    Congrats and Kudos to VDOT. This was an accomplishment worthy of New England crews.

    But

    The next road down is a county road, and not a single plow (except mine) touched it until Monday afternoon. Which means that the minor couty roads which intersect it may not be plowed yet.

    Such roads do not need to be cleaned down to bare pavement, as the state road was, but there eneeds to be at least enough clearing for emergency vehicles. That is one reason why I work diligently to keep my driveway open: it is a safety issue.

    The next thing I check on (and plow) is my immediate neighbors. And while I'm going from one to the next I may as well hit the public roads.

    A local subdivision has a hired contractor to do their roads, but his little tractor wos overwhelmed by this snow. On my way to a drieway job I found him swamped by the task of cleaing the maind subdivision road. A third, even smaller drivey tractor was also diigin people out.

    When we all met it ook us a matter of a minute to divide up the work so the machinery made sense, and there was not even a comment as to how to divide the proceeds.

    By Sunday night, everyone was happy except one family whos driveway woould be an avalanche zone if it was in Aspen.

    Even my heavy 4 wheel drive tractor would not climb that driveway without chains. At one point me and the tractor wer sliding sideways down the hill and not even dropping the plow in front and the mower (carried for weight) behind would stop us. If the plow and the mower were not so wide, I would have worried about overturning.

    Even so I took a major divot out of an embankment and a retaining wall before I got control again.

    Funny thing is, here I am sliding soen the mountainside with 30 or 40 thousand pounds of equipment, and the sensation was remarkably similar to surfing sideways down the front of a forty foot sea with a yacht of similar weight.

    Meanwhile, my boss slipped and fell outside his townhouse and broke his arm. This is a guy with a bronze star, and two purple hearts, who has jumped out of airplanes 800 times.

    Go figure.

    Be careful out there, and have a nice Holiday.

    RH

  77. Anonymous Avatar

    you cannot take money from people because you make a claim that costs have been imposed on you.

    ————————-

    What do you think the Environmental Denfense Fund is all about?

    THEY MAKE THEIR LIVING DING EXACTLY THAT.

    ———————————-

    I'm not out in La La land. I'm telling you the cold hard facts. I'm on your side, but no matter how much we would like to, we cannot pass a law that violates the laws of physics or chemistry.

    It cannot be done. It certainly cannot be done sustainably, and even attempting to do it is not green.

    Despite what you seem to think think, I am not an an apologist for polluters. I hate pollution, waste, and blatant overconsumption as much as you or EMR or anyone else.

    But I am (besides an environmental chemist) a realist. I'm a producer that builds, grows and sells things, and I know I create waste in the process.

    I wish it wasn't so, but it is. I can build the prettiest boat anyone ever saw, cherished by it owners for decades, and even centuries, but sooner or later it will wind up in the dump, and the copper arsenate I protectd it with will leach into someones groundwater.

    I blow a hydraulic hose on my baler and leak four gallons of oil before I know what happened. That oil will eventully "contaminate" FOUR MILLION gallons of water, and I have the skills to tell you not only that it is contaminated, but what tractor it came from.

    ——————————-

    We can have an environment as clean as we choose to have.

    Whatever level of cleanliness we choose will have a price.

    That price will come in dollars and lives.

    You can believe otherwise if you like, but I will tell you without reservation that your belifs are a delusion that violate natural law.

    You are the one living in LA LA land.

    RH

  78. Anonymous Avatar

    You are NOT ALLOWED to CLAIM that costs have been imposed on you and that others must pay to compensate you by fiat.

    and that's true even if you proved the costs ……..

    ————————–

    And you don't see a problem with that logic?

    Even if you proved the costs, you are NOT ALLOWED to make a claim?

    And you think I am in La La land?

    RH

  79. Anonymous Avatar

    You are NOT ALLOWED to CLAIM that costs have been imposed on you and that others must pay to compensate you by fiat.

    and that's true even if you proved the costs ……..

    ————————–

    And you don't see a problem with that logic?

    Even if you proved the costs, you are NOT ALLOWED to make a claim?

    And you think I am in La La land?

    RH

  80. " It is impossible not to pollute. Everyone does it."

    this is true but the circumstances of who can pollute with what and for what purpose are regulated.

    " We stringently regulate automotive emissions, but not housohold emissions which are nearly as great."

    again – not true. there are products that you no longer can buy for the house because they have been banned because of their pollution.

    Not only aerosols, but cleaning products and pesticides and hundreds of products no longer can be sold to households.

    so – you're wrong once again.

    " Lets shut down everything and have zero pollution, zero economy, and zero way to make a living."

    You're really messed up on this guy.

    It is not a "no pollution anywhere paradigm".

    It is a much more granular approach where some stuff is banned, others are allowed in certain concentrations for certain uses and still others are allowed even though they may not be the best – like lawn fertilizers.

    " I have the same right to not be polluted by you as you have by me."

    you do but you don't decide the circumstances, the govt does. The govt looks at YOUR interests and MY interests and makes a decision in the best interests of both of us.

    To that end – it does not pay either of us not to pollute but instead it tells both of us that we WILL NOT pollute the items it tells us that we cannot.

    And it don't matter if we are talking about household use or manufacturing something with pollution as a by-product. In all cases, the govt, representing everyone decides.

    " This is the essential ethical problem of the environmental movement."

    The EPA is not an environmental movement. It is government and you'll find that for every guy like you that disagrees with the EPA that there are an equal number of actual environmentalists that are ALSO unhappy with the EPA.

    The difference is that they advocate even more restriction and even more bans while folks in your circumstance think there are too many already.

    We do not pay people to not pollute.

    We ban pollutants that we think are harmful and allow others that we think do not or if they do, they are acceptable in certain concentrations.

    All of these are subject to new information that may well result in more bans and more restrictions so it is not a fixed framework where you have a "right" to pollute. What you have is a revokeable permit with an expiration date on it where you have to reapply.

    And just like in the past when you could put a house up without a reserve drain field, now you cannot.

    Rules change as we learn more.

    Show me one guy whom we paid to put in a reserve drain field instead of telling him that he could not get a building permit without agreeing to put it in.

    We do not mandate zero pollution but what we do mandate is – in the forms of laws and rules and not in the form of "we'll pay you not to pollute".

    Once again, you're advocating something that you think is a "right" part of your bundle of sticks – and it's clearly not a right.

  81. Anonymous Avatar

    We do not mandate zero pollution but what we do mandate is – in the forms of laws and rules and not in the form of "we'll pay you not to pollute".

    ———————————-

    You are not seeing the facts as they exist. We cannot live ithout some pollution. That is why we do not mandate zero pollution.

    It is an impossibility. If we have a right to live, we have (some) right to pollute.

    If I have the same right to live as you do, then I have the same right to pollute.

    The traditional environmental orthodoxy which you espuse is factually wrong and physically impossible.

    We apy people not to pollute. If we don't pay them enough, then they move to Bhopal.

    RH

  82. Anonymous Avatar

    We do not pay people to not pollute.

    ———————————

    Actually we do, and we do it every day.

    And we also look the other way when some people pollute (mainly ourselves). We do that because the transaction costs for regulating their pollution is too high.

    And so are the political costs.

    RH

  83. Anonymous Avatar

    this is true but the circumstances of who can pollute with what and for what purpose are regulated.

    —————————

    Now we are getting somewhere. You agree that zero pollution is impossible.

    Therefore total regulation is impossible. At some level pollution will HAVE to be allowed, and at that level it is not a regulated activity, but a de facto right.

    Government can pretend that the remaining pollution is "Allowed" or "Permitted", but the fact is that they cannot stop it.

    Because it is a right. It is a right which is intimately associated with your right to live.

    RH

    RH

  84. Anonymous Avatar

    "again – not true. there are products that you no longer can buy for the house because they have been banned because of their pollution."

    —————————-

    I'll concede this (minor) point.

    But you assume that everything that has been banned was banned correctly; that the costs exceed the benefits.

    You probably also believe that all executions and rape convictions are correct because a jury imposed the sentence. But we know that isn't true.

    We banned tributyltin oxide in antifouling bottom paints because of its extreme toxicity. We use copper oxides instead. I believe this was a mistake, because tributyl tin is used in hard epoxy paints that last for up to seven years.

    Because of their lower toxicity, copper oxide paints are designed to slough off and need to be replenished every year. As a result, far more copper oxides enter the environment.

    My professional opinion is that this was a mistake: the costs of the ban far outweigh the benefits. But, once enacted, we have very little way to revisit the ban: government, for all the good it does is very bad at admitting mistakes.

    I still maintain that relative to the environmental damage caused, household pollution takes a lower level of urgency, and this is because of the higher political costs. If you had to pay for the same level of pollution control for your oil burner as the power plant does, you would scream bloody murder.

    The farther down the economic chain you go the harder it gets. Hundreds of millions of people cook over charcoal whichis made, not from wood, but from coal.

    You gonna pass a law that says they are not allowed to cook?

    RH

  85. Anonymous Avatar

    I'll concede, for example, the traffic circles on Route 50 work better than the traffic light they replaced.

    I'm not convinced the benefits exceed the costs. We could have done a lot better, but we allowed ourselves to be blinded by rhetoric.

    RH

  86. Anonymous Avatar

    The EPA is not an environmental movement.

    ———————————-

    Of course it is. It is populated by zealots. I know people who work there.

    We know that a high percentage of people who apply for kindergarten jobs have a predilection for pedophilia. We know that a high percentage of people who apply for police jobs have a predilection to abuse power. We know that people who apply to fire departments are likely to become arsonists.

    EPA is no different. We just don't have videotapes of EPA personnnel abusing their powers.

    RH

  87. Anonymous Avatar

    for every guy like you that disagrees with the EPA

    ——————————-

    You assume that I disagree with EPA. What I disagree with is uneven enforcement.

    RH

  88. Anonymous Avatar

    for every guy like you that disagrees with the EPA that there are an equal number of actual environmentalists that are ALSO unhappy with the EPA.

    ————————–

    It is no accident that EPA regulations get set according to the level of the lawsuits applied.

    They could avoid a lot of litigation if they were more open and transparent about th process. it is not open and transparent because it is populated by zealots.

    Government does not consider you rinterests and my interests and act on what is best for us. Government considers yur lobbyist and my lobbyist and then does what is least painful for government.

    I suspect that these frequently work out to close to the same thing, but close is not good enough. Lobbyists are working to increase THEIR succss rate so that we will send them more money. You send money to EDF so that they will work to steal from me, not because youthink they are working for both of us.

    WE have no system in place to look for the BEST common denominator. We have an adversarial system which looks out for the most popular interests.

    We can design a better system if we agree the present system is making us both poorer than we might be. You because you pay EDF and me because EPA knuckles under to their pressure and lawsits.

    WE can design a better system when we agree the present one is not working for our best common interests.

    EDF lawyers probably make more than you and I combined. They are laughing all the way to their home in the countryside.

    RH

  89. Anonymous Avatar

    You're really messed up on this guy.

    It is not a "no pollution anywhere paradigm".

    ——————————–
    There are actions affoot to prevent all land application of manure. Actions affoot to abandon "growth management" in the Chesapeake BAy area, in favor of curtailing growth entirely.

    What we are faced with is a creeping crud of incremental environmental activism. Environmental professionals have to produce environmental results even if they are bad economic results.

    If a little protection is good, more is better. I once asked a land preservation activist how much land preservation they thought was enough. You would have thought I had slapped her in the face.

    "Well, we don't have nearly enough" She said.

    Well, OK, but when will that be? When do you plan to stop? What is your exit strategy? How will you know when the costs become too high, for the benefits received?

    Blank look. She had no idea what I was talking about. She was a leader in her field and yet she was an environmental moron.

    It isn't a question of whether or not there is a "no pollution anywhere paradigm". That is impossible. It is a question of whn we decide to get real about deciding how much is the right amount as opposed to how little can we get.

    Zero is an impossible answer and clearly not the right answer. Any number higher than that represents both costs and opportunity.

    The problem we face is how to distribute them equitably, since the environment belongs to allof us.

    RH

  90. Anonymous Avatar

    To that end – it does not pay either of us not to pollute but instead it tells both of us that we WILL NOT pollute the items it tells us that we cannot.

    ——————————-

    The government does not pay us not to pollute: we pay each other under government guidance and regulation.Those paymnets are not distributed according to our ownership (or use of) the environmental trash carrying capacity.

    Government does a good job of running the Air Force but it does a lousy job of managing the Air. It could do a better and more equitable job if we require it to. That means it has to protect all of our interests equally.

    Rich people have a lot more to lose if the Air Force doesn't do its job. They have a lot more to gain if the EPA doesn't do its job.

    RH

  91. Anonymous Avatar

    they are acceptable in certain concentrations.

    ———————————

    Translation:

    I will allow you to poison me a certain amount if the benfits are there: if you pay me enough.

    RH

    RH

  92. Oh I agree we cannot live without pollution.

    But I think it is up to society as a whole to decide through their government how much is "ACCEPTABLE" and NOT the individual who sees it as an opportunity for financial gain.

    You keep saying we need balance and to look at both sides.

    We have done that in the past and what happened?

    We ended up with way more pollution than we wanted.

    So the paradigm changed – and it needed to.

    Now you have to meet the permit thresholds.

    it does NOT mean NO POLLUTION but it does mean the individual or companies that would benefit from it don't get to decide the "proper balance"

  93. well you outlasted me – again.

    til next time

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