Mon08032015

Last updateThu, 30 Jul 2015 7pm

LOS ANGELES Monday, August 3rd 2015 4:19

 IF IT'S BROKEN...FIX IT

Getting Serious about LA’s Sidewalk Repairs: A Five-Point ‘Let’s-Get-On-with-It’ Plan

Ken Alpern
FIXING LA-Last Tuesday night's City Council Board of Public Works and Budget Committees met and allowed a lot of good public input to a series of concerned and available Councilmembers and City officials. The attendance and input were both outstanding--I want to thank Councilmember Mike Bonin, in particular, for allowing the outreach and advice to…

Latino Politicians Putting Climate Change Ahead of Constituents

Joel Kotkin
POLITICS-Racial and economic inequality may be key issues facing America today, but the steps often pushed by progressives, including minority politicians, seem more likely to exacerbate these divisions than repair them. In a broad arc of policies affecting everything from housing to employment, the agenda being adopted serves to stunt upward…

Worlds Apart on Kathryn Steinle: When Political Opportunism Reigns Supreme

John Mirisch
MUSING WITH MIRISCH-The small Swedish Jewish Museum in Stockholm is tucked away on a side street. Discreet signage instructs would-be visitors to push a button which activates a camera, so they can be screened before they are granted entry. The museum's permanent exhibition fills one fairly small room. Most of the objects on display are Jewish…

Garcetti Passes, Wesson Fails

Jack Humphreville
LA WATCHDOG-Our Los Angeles Times has issued midterm letter grades for Controller Ron Galperin (B-) and City Attorney Mike Feuer (B+) and will be posting grades for City Council President Herb Wesson this Sunday and Mayor Eric Garcetti the following Sunday. Our City is facing many difficult issues, ranging from a lagging economy, relatively high…

What LA Really Needs: A Part-time City Council and a Part-time Mayor!

Dennis Zine
JUST THE FACTS-There are so many serious and pressing problems facing the City of Los Angeles and few if any real solutions are being proposed or implemented by our elected and appointed leaders at City Hall. I will start with the current city budget. Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had a $7.7 billion total budget in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.…

Why Don’t the City’s Women Managers Hire More Women?

Denyse Selesnick
MY TURN-Perusing the web is a little like the soap operas of yesteryear. You get suckered in! One link leads to another link and then one is exposed to a barrage both facts and idiocy. The reason for this discussion was my attending a July Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils (VANC) meeting with the Department of Water and Power. General…

Cleaning Up LA City Hall: ‘It’s What’s Legal That’s the Problem’

Bob Gelfand
GELFAND’S WORLD-Everyone understands that developers own our city government. Sure, there are some officials here and there who are upright and independent, but recent history shows that the developers typically get their way in spite of public opposition. Whether it is a zoning change for an office tower or the required permits for a new mall,…

Not So Fast LA! Let’s Consider the Real Costs of Hosting the Olympics before We Jump In

Greg Nelson
SPORTS POLITICS-On Monday, Boston withdrew from its offer to be the nation’s bidder for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. In January, Los Angeles finished second to Boston when the U.S. Olympic Committee made its decision. After Boston was selected to polish up its bid before submitting it to the International Olympic Committee for a final decision,…

Party Crashing for Political Access: Schwarzenegger and My Pantsuit

Charlotte Laws
CALIFORNIA ACCESS POLITICS-Party crashing—or gate-crashing, as it is sometimes called—is an art form that I stumbled upon as a teen. I taught myself how to finagle into any event, anywhere, anytime. It required being part private eye, part actress and part chutzpah machine. I had to think outside of the box, throw myself into the role, and whip my…





Art or Ad? LA’s mural law written in gray ink

Escape the Room-Conan goes for the record … and the laffs


LADWP Rates Overview

 

 

  

 

 

 

Inequality has Made Us a Pothole Nation

OTHERWORDS - Investing in infrastructure used to be a political no-brainer. Politicians of nearly every ideological stripe supported government spending on everything from school buildings to bridges.

The more conservative pols would typically favor highways, the more liberal preferred mass transit. But nearly all elected officials considered quality infrastructure essential. Businesses simply couldn't thrive, even conservatives understood, without it.
This consensus remains solid — among the American people. Only 6 percent of Americans, one poll last year found, consider infrastructure "not that important" or "not important at all." Among our politicians, it's a different story. Infrastructure has become a political hot potato. Congress can barely reach any consensus at all. Lawmakers have spent more than two years haggling over a bare-bones transportation bill.

Overall, U.S. infrastructure spending has declined dramatically. Back in 1968, federal outlays for basic infrastructure amounted to 3.3 percent of the nation's gross domestic product. Last year, federal infrastructure investments made up only 1.3 percent of GDP. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that we would now need to spend $2.2 trillion over five years to adequately "maintain and upgrade" America's roads, dams, drinking water, school buildings, and the like.

But lawmakers in Congress are moving in the opposite direction. The House's 2013 budget, if adopted by the Senate, would force massive cutbacks in infrastructure investment.
●●●
Consider alternative ways to pay for infrastructure.
“How to Pay for Infrastructure”- Jonathan Tisch
●●●
The impact of these cutbacks? Still more potholes, brownouts, and overcrowded classrooms and buses.

The irony in all this: We ought to be witnessing right now a historic surge in infrastructure investment. The cost of borrowing for infrastructure projects, the Economic Policy Institute's Ethan Pollack points out, has hit record lows — and the private construction companies that do infrastructure work remain desperate for contracts. They're charging less.

"We're getting much more bang for our buck than we usually do," says Pollack.
Yet our political system seems totally incapable of responding to the enormous opportunity we have before us. Center for American Progress analysts David Madland and Nick Bunker blame this political dysfunction on inequality.

The more wealth concentrates, their research shows, the feebler a society's investments in infrastructure become. Our nation's long-term decline in federal infrastructure investment — from 3.3 percent of GDP in 1968 to 1.3 percent in 2011 — turns out to mirror almost exactly the long-term shift in income from America's middle class to the richest Americans. And the U.S. states where the rich have gained the most at the expense of the middle class turn out to be the states that invest the least in infrastructure.

Why should this be the case? Madland and Bunker cite several dynamics at play. In more equal societies, middle classes will be more politically powerful. That matters because the middle class has a vested interest in healthy levels of infrastructure investment. Middle class families depend on good roads, public schools, and mass transit much more than rich families. Rich kids may attend private schools, and the ultra-wealthy can even commute by helicopter to avoid traffic congestion.

Some wealthy people, Madland and Bunker acknowledge, do see the connection between infrastructure and healthy economic development. But increased investment in infrastructure demands higher taxes, and lower tax rates have always been among the "more cherished priorities of the rich."

"When push comes to shove, infrastructure is likely to take a backseat to keeping taxes low," they posit. "There is a significant body of evidence that suggests a strong middle class is important for public investments."

Unequal societies — like the contemporary United States — have weak middle classes. That leaves Americans with a basic choice. We can press for greater equality. Or spend more time dodging potholes.

(Sam Pizzigati edits Too Much, the weekly Institute for Policy Studies newsletter on excess and inequality. Visit www.toomuchonline.org for a longer version of this essay.

(This column was provided to CityWatch by OtherWords.org a project of The Institute for Policy Studies.)
-cw

Tags: infrastructure, potholes, inequality, politics








CityWatch
Vol 10 Issue 32
Pub: Apr 20, 2012

Share