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Unread 04-24-2012, 11:00 PM
 
Location: Downtown Detroit
1,498 posts, read 1,716,181 times
Reputation: 886
Default Detroit: A Libretarian's Paradise

It may seem odd at first that Detroit, a city so entrenched in liberal politics, would be so appealing to economic libertarians. But, in this city's freefall into financial chaos, a new opportunity has arisen.

As Detroit's financial woes grew over the decades, the city government's ability to provide services to citizens has evaporated. A long time ago, such services may have been the function of private enterprise, but were forced into extinction during municipal growth years.

In the city's present state, the need for services once delivered by the city is greater than ever. The city's shortfalls have created a void in the market and a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs. I will give a few examples that I see, but there are many more beneath the surface.

Because Detroit has been unable to establish and pay for a public mass transit system, a group of Detroit investors has embarked on what will be one of the only privately built and operated light rail lines in the nation. While the feds may invest some seed money to get the project started, private enterprise will build and operate the rail line for at least 10 years. They plan to construct the line for significantly less money and in significantly less time then previously proposed public options. The line will service the most important parts of the city's business, entertainment, and cultural areas. The M1 Rail Line represents a tremendous shift away from government controlled transportation and back to a time when effective and desirable transit options were available.

In a similar situation, the city and suburbs have also failed to deliver adequate bus service to their citizens. The public buses are often late and unpleasant. Service has continued to deteriorate over the years as more routes and schedules get cut. Many residents can no longer use the bus service as it is not dependable. From this need has grown a private enterprise. A local entrepreneur plans to start a bus company that will compete directly with Metro Detroit's public buses. This new company will run many of the same routes and service the same customers as the public buses, only he plans to be on time and offer a better service.

The opportunities for entrepreneurs in Detroit is almost endless. The city is offering unique opportunities not possible anywhere else in the United States. From private "Security Police" to ambulances and medical transportation to a surge of new charter schools, there is a need to replace government-run services with privately operated ones. While the city's financial woes have undoubtedly been painful for many residents, the silver lining of this disaster is that a new social structure can be built from the ground up- one where the government has crippled itself to the point of losing its stranglehold control over many things that rightfully belong in the control of the people.

The municipal government has also lost control of its ability to oversee and enforce asinine codes and ordinances that do nothing but restrict creativity and the most economical use of space. Because of this, a myriad of new businesses has developed. From local residents using vacant lots for productive farming to artists and inventors converting dilapidated old factories into workshops and business incubators, none of this would be possible in a heavy-handed city outside of Detroit. Productive people are doing what they naturally do when unhindered by red tape and bureaucratic rigamarole to collect zoning and license fees.

My sincere hope is that our roadways will be the next government choke hold to fall. As state and local governments lose control of the cost to maintain our roads, highways and bridges, a window will open up for private infrastructure. No more long delays while government contractors take months to complete a 2 week job. No more potholes and unplowed streets. No more roads to nowhere that only service the locally-elected leaders' developer cronies. No more tax money going to things that the people haven't chosen to pay for.

Despite the negative press, the decay, and the constant naysayers, the next few decades may be a new golden era for the City of Detroit and for those with the ambition to make their mark.
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Unread 04-25-2012, 06:27 AM
 
Location: Downtown Detroit
1,498 posts, read 1,716,181 times
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Here is a great article that just popped up in the Detroit News that highlights what I'm talking about: Entrepreneurs setting up shop in Detroit | The Detroit News | detroitnews.com (http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120425/BIZ/204250354/Job-creators-setting-up-shop-Detroit?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Cimg%7CFRONTPAGE - broken link)
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Unread 04-25-2012, 08:03 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan and Sometimes Orange County CA
15,823 posts, read 26,593,214 times
Reputation: 11550
[quote=ForStarters;24015962]
My sincere hope is that our roadways will be the next government choke hold to fall. As state and local governments lose control of the cost to maintain our roads, highways and bridges, a window will open up for private infrastructure. No more long delays while government contractors take months to complete a 2 week job. No more potholes and unplowed streets. No more roads to nowhere that only service the locally-elected leaders' developer cronies. quote]

Most of the post is intersting and at least partially correct. However the position above is very uninformed and naive.

Highways and bridges are substantially funded with federal funds. Federal funded roads cannot be turned over to private enterprises and changed to toll roads.

There is no such thing as a "government contractor" The people who build roads and perform major repairs are private cosntruction companies who contract with the government (minor repairs and maintenance are preforemd by MDOT, County or City crews). These are the exact same people who would and do build roads for private companies. The complete the work as quickly as possible. Time is money on these projects and the contractors are working as fast as is possible. If the project takes longer than absolutely necessary, somone has to pay (either the government or the contractor depending on who caused the delay. If the contrractor is at fault, they not only pay the added cost of performing the work, but usually have to pay the government liquidated damages as well. The costs are huge. Sometimes tens of thousands of dollars a day).

Most of the repairs being done now are temporary band aid repairs that are quick, and cheap, but do nto last long. The government agencies do not have the money to finance full repairs/replacement that is needed. When they finally get around to full repair and/or replacement of our decaying roads and highways, the work will take considerably longer, but it will also last considerably longer as long as they do not cut corners.

Roads and rail right of way require government participation. Our roads are technically owned by each property owner along the road. The government has an easement for the road. If the government abandons the road, the property returns to the owner. A private company would have to either engage in a private public partnership with the government, or purchase the property and/or easements for the roadway or rail lines. The result would be astronomical tolls ($10 for a trip down Woodward for example).

Fully private infrastructure often carries added problems and abuses.
Way back when some infrastructure was completely privitized, the people with control of the roads would use their control for political and other purposes (i.e. by limting access to certain persons, or by simply closing the road at particular times, or take advantage of situations). It is not just way back that the problems occurred. Present day ownerrs of private infrastructure have often taken advantage of their monopoly as well.
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Unread 04-25-2012, 08:13 AM
 
5,746 posts, read 3,524,772 times
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[quote=Coldjensens;24019168]
Quote:
Originally Posted by ForStarters View Post
My sincere hope is that our roadways will be the next government choke hold to fall. As state and local governments lose control of the cost to maintain our roads, highways and bridges, a window will open up for private infrastructure. No more long delays while government contractors take months to complete a 2 week job. No more potholes and unplowed streets. No more roads to nowhere that only service the locally-elected leaders' developer cronies. quote]

Most of the post is intersting and at least partially correct. However the position above is very uninformed and naive.

Highways and bridges are substantially funded with federal funds. Federal funded roads cannot be turned over to private enterprises and changed to toll roads.

There is no such thing as a "government contractor" The people who build roads and perform major repairs are private cosntruction companies who contract with the government (minor repairs and maintenance are preforemd by MDOT, County or City crews). These are the exact same people who would and do build roads for private companies. The complete the work as quickly as possible. Time is money on these projects and the contractors are working as fast as is possible. If the project takes longer than absolutely necessary, somone has to pay (either the government or the contractor depending on who caused the delay. If the contrractor is at fault, they not only pay the added cost of performing the work, but usually have to pay the government liquidated damages as well. The costs are huge. Sometimes tens of thousands of dollars a day).

Most of the repairs being done now are temporary band aid repairs that are quick, and cheap, but do nto last long. The government agencies do not have the money to finance full repairs/replacement that is needed. When they finally get around to full repair and/or replacement of our decaying roads and highways, the work will take considerably longer, but it will also last considerably longer as long as they do not cut corners.

Roads and rail right of way require government participation. Our roads are technically owned by each property owner along the road. The government has an easement for the road. If the government abandons the road, the property returns to the owner. A private company would have to either engage in a private public partnership with the government, or purchase the property and/or easements for the roadway or rail lines. The result would be astronomical tolls ($10 for a trip down Woodward for example).

Fully private infrastructure often carries added problems and abuses.
Way back when some infrastructure was completely privitized, the people with control of the roads would use their control for political and other purposes (i.e. by limting access to certain persons, or by simply closing the road at particular times, or take advantage of situations). It is not just way back that the problems occurred. Present day ownerrs of private infrastructure have often taken advantage of their monopoly as well.
Great post Coldjensens.

As always, as this thread proves, Libertarianism (which I think falls between conservatism and anarchism, or is the polar opposite of Socialism), while it sounds good in theory, automatically assumes people have the best intentions in their decisions, or that we're all islands unto ourselves.

That's why it's rarely utilized (at least in the developed world), and when it has been applied it has failed.
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Unread 04-25-2012, 08:27 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan and Sometimes Orange County CA
15,823 posts, read 26,593,214 times
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Dont take me wrong. I am not necessarily agaisnt libertarianism (at least aspects of it) but it is not practical for transpotation, at least not without adjustments.
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Unread 04-25-2012, 09:09 AM
 
Location: Your computer screen.
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Capitalism always prevails over Socialism.
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Unread 04-25-2012, 12:30 PM
 
Location: Downtown Detroit
1,498 posts, read 1,716,181 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
Most of the post is intersting and at least partially correct. However the position above is very uninformed and naive.

Highways and bridges are substantially funded with federal funds. Federal funded roads cannot be turned over to private enterprises and changed to toll roads.
I ask, why not? Simply because the funds currently come from the federal government doesn't mean roads are any cheaper to build/maintain. The money must come from somewhere. If the feds fund the roads, they must take the money through taxes and then apportion it as they see fit. If private industry were to operate the roads, they would charge a usage fee equal to the operating cost and serve areas based on society's demands. In a competitive market, there is no possibility of the government delivering road infrastructure cheaper than private enterprise.

Quote:
There is no such thing as a "government contractor" The people who build roads and perform major repairs are private cosntruction companies who contract with the government (minor repairs and maintenance are preforemd by MDOT, County or City crews). These are the exact same people who would and do build roads for private companies. The complete the work as quickly as possible. Time is money on these projects and the contractors are working as fast as is possible. If the project takes longer than absolutely necessary, somone has to pay (either the government or the contractor depending on who caused the delay. If the contrractor is at fault, they not only pay the added cost of performing the work, but usually have to pay the government liquidated damages as well. The costs are huge. Sometimes tens of thousands of dollars a day).
I am not familiar with government bidding for road projects, but I am familiar with government bidding on manufacturing. To say the least, the government rarely ever procures goods and services at the lowest price. There is a complex formula the government uses to select contractors and the price/quality differential is rarely the determining factor. When I see the prices the government pays for manufactured products, I am ashamed and angered. Their selection process is a bureaucratic labyrinth unrelated to competitive sourcing.

Quote:
Most of the repairs being done now are temporary band aid repairs that are quick, and cheap, but do nto last long. The government agencies do not have the money to finance full repairs/replacement that is needed. When they finally get around to full repair and/or replacement of our decaying roads and highways, the work will take considerably longer, but it will also last considerably longer as long as they do not cut corners.
This is because the road/highway infrastructure is waaay overbuilt. The government did not have the foresight to maintain all of this infrastructure once built. Shortsighted politicians planned massive projects with no inclination of how this stuff would be maintained. When businesses do that, they go bankrupt so there is accountability. In the case of public roads, the government simply raises taxes to pay for its endless appetite for redundant infrastructure that results in only marginal transportation improvements.

Quote:
Roads and rail right of way require government participation. Our roads are technically owned by each property owner along the road. The government has an easement for the road. If the government abandons the road, the property returns to the owner. A private company would have to either engage in a private public partnership with the government, or purchase the property and/or easements for the roadway or rail lines. The result would be astronomical tolls ($10 for a trip down Woodward for example).
Perhaps roads require some government oversight, but they do not require full government participation. The law allows for creative uses of land through easements and covenants that landowners could exchange for either travel rights, money, or some other type of compensation from infrastructure builders. We have become so indoctrinated with the idea that the government must operate our roads that we have lost the ability to fathom alternative possibilities that would be more beneficial to the most amount of people. I foresee people buying roads as investments just as many investors own agriculture as part of their portfolios. They would be relatively stable investments with predictable returns.

Quote:
Fully private infrastructure often carries added problems and abuses.
Way back when some infrastructure was completely privitized, the people with control of the roads would use their control for political and other purposes (i.e. by limting access to certain persons, or by simply closing the road at particular times, or take advantage of situations). It is not just way back that the problems occurred. Present day ownerrs of private infrastructure have often taken advantage of their monopoly as well.
There is always the possibility for abuse, no more so than when government is in complete control. Keep in mind that the government polices itself- a recipe for corruption. You are correct, though, that when private business conspires with the government, the ultimate abuse occurs. This is what we see today where crony capitalism has destroyed free market capitalism and corrupted the good intentions behind the socialist movement.
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Unread 04-25-2012, 01:07 PM
 
Location: west mich
5,015 posts, read 1,956,662 times
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If libertarianism is about zero govt except military, then that would be something akin to Lord Of The Flies.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding CliffsNotes - Study Guide and Help

* A military (protecting the status quo). A court system - above reproach (?) hearing cases brought by those who can afford it. Right.
Without government there is still GOVERNANCE of some sort. It would be whoever could gain the most power. Probably big money. In the novel the bullies took over.

A toll gate at my driveway, a privatized police force and fire dept, both for hire, - what great ideas.
Let's see - my house is burning, a corporate clerk mistakenly forgets my dues or I don't have the cash on hand, my house burns down (but I have an unregulated insurance company that decides it doesn't want to pay). Then I can take the company to this unimpeachable(?) privatized (?) court for redress. What a great system.
And who decides when, where, and WHY we go to war? So many great options.
The difference between corporate and govt control is:
A (democratically elected) govt doesn't need to skim off CEO salaries and ever escalating investor demands (doesn't need to profit). If it needs corporate expertise it takes bids.
A corporation answers to nobody except its shareholders. It has no allegiance to country or society.

Does this apply to Detroit? Well a corporate-appointed govt might be similar. I'm speculating here BTW since we haven't really tried libertarianism yet. Some use govt-free Somalia as an example.

Last edited by detwahDJ; 04-25-2012 at 01:45 PM..
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Unread 04-25-2012, 02:37 PM
 
Location: Downtown Detroit
1,498 posts, read 1,716,181 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by detwahDJ View Post
If libertarianism is about zero govt except military, then that would be something akin to Lord Of The Flies.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding CliffsNotes - Study Guide and Help

* A military (protecting the status quo). A court system - above reproach (?) hearing cases brought by those who can afford it. Right.
Without government there is still GOVERNANCE of some sort. It would be whoever could gain the most power. Probably big money. In the novel the bullies took over.

A toll gate at my driveway, a privatized police force and fire dept, both for hire, - what great ideas. Let's see - my house is burning, a corporate clerk mistakenly forgets my dues or I don't have the cash on hand, my house burns down (but I have an unregulated insurance company that decides it doesn't want to pay). Then I can take the company to this unimpeachable(?) privatized (?) court for redress. What a great system.
And who decides when, where, and WHY we go to war? So many great options.
The difference between corporate and govt control is:
A (democratically elected) govt doesn't need to skim off CEO salaries and ever escalating investor demands (doesn't need to profit). If it needs corporate expertise it takes bids.
A corporation answers to nobody except its shareholders. It has no allegiance to country or society.

Does this apply to Detroit? Well a corporate-appointed govt might be similar. I'm speculating here BTW since we haven't really tried libertarianism yet. Some use govt-free Somalia as an example.
I am not advocating for a pure libertarian society without the type of protections provided in the Constitution. Economically, however, government is not immune from committing the same (or worse) abuses as corporations.

If you want to talk about Lord of the Flies, I'd rather deal with smaller bullies than a massive, omnipotent government bully with governmental immunity and infinite authority. Sure, you may be able to elect new leaders, but what change can be accomplished when the system is entrenched to the point of no return? When government goes awry, you have a systemic failure that cannot be easily fixed as the government can act under the color of justice and the law to carry out abuses. At least a corporation is limited by the amount of influence it can afford to buy.

Local activities like police and fire should probably remain in the hands of the government because their role is different than that of other industries. I would argue that people do have a "right" to be protected from the harm of others, which is the responsibility of the government and police. You do not, however, have a right to roads. Roads are simply a piece of land that have been converted to infrastructure. The person who owns the land used for that travel should be able to collect a fee for such usage. If I allow my neighbor to use my driveway to park his RV, I should be able to charge him if I so desire.

In a libertarian system, the integrity of the government and its courts is very important, just as it is in any system. The government's business should be nothing more than pure government business. That is, government should not be "in business." Once the commingling of business interests and government occurs, abuses occur. Certain people start getting special privileges and handouts. Corporations get unfair protections and almost become an arm of the government. Instead, they should be left to sink or swim on their own merits just like the rest of us. Self-reliance and independence and respect for the individual is key.
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Unread 04-25-2012, 03:29 PM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan and Sometimes Orange County CA
15,823 posts, read 26,593,214 times
Reputation: 11550
[
Because the fed funded the construction of the roads. The federal government has an interest in the roads. The State has to agree to certain terms to get the money in the first place. The roads are subject to federal rules which do not allow toll roads on federal highways. You could build new roads to be toll roads if you can acquire the right of way, but cannot convert federally funded roads to toll roads.

It is the lowest price, however there are government requirements that increase the price for road building. The biggest is prevailing wage (Davis Bacon) requirements. There are design requriements that are sometimes inflexible and require overbuilding or just inappropriate design for the location. There are DBE/MBE/WBE requriements that dirve up the cost a bit. There are sometimes buy american/bu america act requirements that can drive up the cost.

Another thing that may drive up costs is the multiple layers of government involvement. Some roads are state, some county, some city or township. Some agencies are more efficient than others. Some are horrible. While it seems to make sense to give local agencies money and let them figure out where to best apply transportation funds for repairs, it often does not work out well. Some agencies take the money and do not seem to accomplish anything at all with it. If an agency ends up with an EFM, or just has a proven track records of ineptitute and or graft, why do we give that agency more moeny for road work? This is nto the time to play political games, it is time to figure out the most effieicnt way to get as many roads rebuild with what we have (and we will ahve to obtain more funding to even come close to maintaining what we have).

Infrastructure is not overbuilt in general, however there are some specific examples of overbuilding. The problem in the past 20 or so years is a failure to invest in infrastructure. Many parts of our system are reaching the end of their useful life span. They need to be replaced. Instead they have bene patched. Many new systems were built at the lowest possible immediate cost without reegard to long term costs. At some places, and especially it seems in the 1970s, there was a lot of inspectors looking the other way while shoddy workmanship was installed. Much of that work needs to be replaced.

Very soon, your concern will be addressed in Michigan. Some roads/bridges are already closed. As time goes on, MDOT will have to close more and more roads and/or convert them back to gravel. Michigan will become a backwater and the industry will leave for places that maintain their roads and have decent infrastructure. Then less revenue and more closures. You will be happy.

Allow each landowner to charge for crossing their property? So you would have a toll every 100 - 900 feet? It certianly would reduce pollution, since we may as well walk wherever we are going to go.

Perhaps we could completely wipe out the entire foundations for our social and economic system and replace them with another system altogether. However unless you are advocating a compete collapse of society and anarchy for a few decades or more while a new system devlops, it is utterly impractical. Besides no one has an alternate system that even appears workable. Develop an alternate system, show that it will work and then you might get some support for completely eliminating our socio-economic system.


The government control of our roads has worked fairly well. They are in a crises now due to bad dcisions in the past 20 or so years, but they can fix it and seem determined to do so. Because I live where we are subject to the whim of a private bridge owner, I am especially aware of the problems with giving a private individual a monopoly on critical transportation. It does not work. When they had private road ownership ages ago - it did not work. I prefer the system we have to one proven to not work.

PPPs are proven to work. Fully private ownership of infrastructure is proven to guarntee abuse and not work. Heck, I see it every day ($2 toll each way to cross a bridge that is not even 1/4 mile long).

We can fix what we have. It was a good system for a long time. It is still a good system, just in decay. I see no need to panic and switch to something proven to create a nightmare for everyone and massive power and profits for a few. One thing we do nto need right now is more power concentrated in the hands of a few individuals.

Last edited by Coldjensens; 04-25-2012 at 03:42 PM..
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