Wednesday, March 03, 2010

DOWN TO THE DOCTOR’S: Bill English’s expensive driving habits & Peter Dunne’s war on rural teens

Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath ransacks the newspapers for stories on issues affecting our freedom.

This week: Bill English’s Expensive Driving Habits and Peter Dunne’s War on Rural Teenagers 

_richardmcgrath 1. Motoring MPs put $40k dent in public purse – Internal Affairs spent tens of thousands of your dollars fixing wear and tear and damage to the cars and limousines it furnishes to government ministers. That’s a little over $2300 each. No surprise to learn that Sir Double Dipton is the most expensive MP to keep on the road.
    I suggest making MPs responsible for their own motoring costs. Let them purchase and insure their own vehicles – the Greens will ride bikes or trains, of course. If they were honest.  If they want to drive around in BMWs, that’s up to them, but we shouldn’t be sent the bill for their lifestyle choices.
    The news item mentioned demanding workloads and long hours on the road for these senior MPs. The Libertarianz Party has a solution to this problem – cut down the scope of government, so that MPs are not overworked. Limit the role of government to upholding individual rights by concentrating on rebuilding our justice system and police force. Make MPs’ job part-time, with expenses and remuneration funded by the political parties they represent.
    On a related subject, I also resent having to contribute to Phil Goff’s ‘Axe The Tax’ bus ride around the countryside. His party introduced the horrible GST and he wants to maintain it at current levels, not to axe it.
    Stop misleading the public, Mr Goff!

2. Key firm as driver reforms attacked – Peter Dunne’s crusade against rural youth has gained traction, with John Key backing moves to limit the mobility of teenagers living in the country.
    Key’s reasoning includes the statement that “if [the law changes] mean a youngster lives and doesn’t die in a road fatality, that’s a sacrifice worth making.” On those grounds, the PM should ban all motor vehicles and cycles, and cut the road toll down to somewhere near zero.
    Isn’t that a sacrifice worth making, John?
    The Libertarianz Party believes the owners of roads should set the rules for whoever uses them, but believes the business of providing roads for New Zealanders could be farmed out to private industry, who would want to turn a profit from this ownership, and would therefore want their roads to be safe and user-friendly. Along with this, a reformed justice system that held people of all ages legally and financially accountable for the harm they caused others would also provide disincentives to those who currently drive carelessly or incompetently.     

3. Police call for tough action on disrespect – This sort of thing is the thin end of the wedge. Yes, the police have a tough job to do, but when some of them abuse their position it becomes difficult to maintain public respect. There is freedom of speech in this country, and that includes the right to offer an opinion on the appearance and actions of on-duty police officers. At least as long as that particular brand of free speech is still allowed.
     Assaulting a police officers is a different matter, unless a person is defending themselves against unjustified or excessive violence.
     ‘Insulting behaviour’ is not a crime - police officers must learn to take criticism on the chin. Several times in my work as a contracted police medical officer I have been called a ‘pig doctor’ by injured or intoxicated people I’ve been asked to assess. But I’m not about to go crying to a district court judge that my dignity has been offended. Similarly, Police Association president Greg O’Connor needs to realise that assault and hurt feelings are two different things. What next, Greg - will people be arrested for failing to salute police officers?               

“When the people fear the government, there is tyranny - when the
government fear the people, there is liberty.”
- Thomas Jefferson  

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19 Comments:

Anonymous Craig said...

Can you give an example of where the 'privatize roads and rules' idea has worked? Superficially it sounds like a daft idea, but I'm willing to accept evidence to the contrary.

3/03/2010 05:59:00 pm  
Blogger Richard McGrath said...

@Craig: I'm not sure whether an existing system of state-owned roads has been totally privatised, but there are numerous examples where private enterprise has built roads and tolled them in order to pay for them.

Just think about it though. If you were the new owner of a road, would you want to impose rules that differed greatly from the piece of road next door? It would be in your interest to follow as closely as possible what the adjoining road users were doing.

e.g. I doubt whether anyone would make drivers suddenly switch to driving on the opposite side of the road when entering their jurisdiction.

Scott Wilson, if he's reading this, may know some examples where public roads have been divvied up and privatised. If there are examples, I imagine there would be one or two major owners over a whole country, not a series of owners of small strips of roading.

I'm sure space travel seemed a daft idea seventy years ago, Craig, but just because something is difficult to imagine in terms of the nuts and bolts doesn't mean it can't happen,

3/04/2010 08:32:00 am  
Anonymous David said...

Have a look on the mises.org website/forums.

I've seen at least one example of a town with private roads. There's also a book on the privatisation of roads available for free download.

That being said, I'm not yet entirely convinced that privatising all roads currently owned by the NZ Government is a good idea.. It's the basic problem of #1 Government makes a monopoly #2 Government *sells* a monopoly, and therefore a private owner has a very strong monopoly, that wouldn't have existed in a free market (try looking up any [non-IP] monopolies in a true free market).

3/04/2010 09:27:00 am  
Blogger PC said...

I don't say that privatising roads is the first, or even second, thing a government should be doing.

But when they do, there's a reasonable programme outlined here for how to go about it -- and how to think about it.

3/04/2010 09:42:00 am  
Anonymous Craig said...

So in effect nobody can point me at a concrete successful application of the 'libz' roading infrastructure policy. The 'libz' website mentions that NZ's infrastructure is 'third world', beside being somewhat melodramatic (if you want to see real third world roading try Eastern Europe or Africa), this would imply that there must be examples of 'first world' infrastructure somewhere. Would it not make far more sense to replicate what has been done in the countries that have the 'first world' infrastructure, as opposed to advocating the automatic privatization of everything on purely ideological grounds?

3/04/2010 05:27:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

Craig

The state highway system in NZ is of low quality. For example, there is insufficient base, the bitumen as specified by govt agency is thin and cheap (would not pass requirements in UK, let alone the USA and would definately be rejected in Germany). As is usual with Kiwi socialist endeavours, the whole show is initially done on the cheap (hence good enough for govt work) but ends up costing hugely more in maintenance later on.

It must be in someone's interest to see to it that lots and lots of maintenance is necessary, instead of building roads to last 20 years or more without attention. It certainly isn't in mine.

As far as privatisation is concerned, yes it's a good idea. There is no reason to continue to bilch every citizen of New Zealand for infrastructure on ideological grounds. Let each individual person decide what goods and services he or she wants and let each pay their provider of choice for those items ONLY. It's called liberty. You may have heard of it.

LGM

3/04/2010 05:57:00 pm  
Anonymous Craig said...

'LGM':

You have really only repeated the blurb on the libz website, we all know that roads could be better, however I'm not sure the current state of play is some sort of socialist conspiracy.

Still, nobody has produced any hard evidence that privatization of roads leads to better roads. Show me some and I'll be all for it, or you could just keep on implying that I'm a freedom hater for asking for evidence.

3/04/2010 07:32:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

Craig

I mentioned a particular fault of the state roads infrastructure which makes little economic sense. Such a system can survive only if it ensures certain cronies are paid to undertake guaranteed on-going & expensive make-work. The funding for this consists of compulsorily expropriated property and resources from other individual people. In the absence of that coercive aspect the system is not sustainable.

Consider whether a private operator could entertain the strategem. I put it to you that a private operator would tend not choose that strategy for the simple reason that he is unable to tax every person by coercion and conpulsion. His capital is finite. Therefore he needs to direct his capital very carefully. If he gets things wrong, then he will consume all the capital he commands. The result will be that his resources will be reallocated to a party with superior skills in producing what the public is prepared to voluntarily pay for. Low quality, inferior roads which are in need of very expensive on-going maintenance do not make sense for a private operator to entertain over the long run.

Even so, the fundamental point isn't that better roads would be a result of private ownership (although for simple economic reasons I contend that they would tend towards better quality). The point to consider is that no private individual would be coerced to pay for something he didn't use. The ideology of forcing individual people pay for things (whether they want them or not, whether they use them or not) by coercion, threat, initiation of force etc. is not supportable.

As to whether you are a freedom hater or not, you only need ask yourself some simple questions. Examples would be along these lines.

Do you support the notion that individuals should have their wealth, resources, property, money etc. coercivley and compulsorily expropriated?

Do you support the notion that individuals should be forced to fund specific goods and service providers (for instance govt monopolies or organisations protected by special fiat) whether they want to patronise those providers or not?

Yes or no answer. Simple as that.


LGM

3/04/2010 09:47:00 pm  
Anonymous Sally said...

LGM,

You should stick to topics you actually know about.

My brother works as a roading engineer and assured me that the reason that we build high maintenance roads here in NZ is because that is the cheapest way, including the maintenance. After you have actual figures come back to us on how you thought otherwise.

Which then calls into question the rest of your post since you seem to know little on this topic.

Private roads are a great idea. Until you come to the situation where someone cannot afford to enter their own house because they don't have the cash for the toll to get in there.

Since freedom of movement around our country is one of NZ'ers badic human rights the only way I can see private roads being possible is if their is legislation to allow people to use them without paying. Which sort of defeats their purpose.

Or if you consider someone's right to operate a toll road as higher order than someones right to move freely (without restriction) around
out country...then go for it.

As with most things it is mainly about which right you consider more important.

3/04/2010 11:28:00 pm  
Anonymous Craig said...

LGM:

Thank you for taking the time to lay out your point of view, I do understand the premises you lay out, however as you state yourself, this may not actually lead to a improvement, it only 'should' lead to improvement if every road owner acts rationally (which of course, not everybody does). As Sally points out, the blind application of simple ideology quickly leads to contradictions.

I note the libz website does not actually say that their policy would improve the situation, only that the current situation is non-optimal.

The burden of proof is on the libz, all we have managed to establish so far is that the policy is simply in line with their ideology, not that anything good will come of it. This seems somewhat reminiscent of the last Labour governments approach to the minimum wage (for example), congruent with their ideology, but not really helping the situation it is meant to address.

3/05/2010 06:35:00 am  
Anonymous LGM said...

Craig

"It may not lead to improvement"

Sure, it might not initially. Some providers may decide to allocate the capital and resources they control in a manner that results in building high maintenance, low quality roads. That may be a valid choice over the short to medium term. Eventually they would have to decide whether to continue with expensive maintenance of their roads or to rebuild to a higher specification. They would need to consider whether they could expect to support an intensive and expensive maintenance program indefinately (which is only going to get more intensive and more expensive over time) or "do it once, do it right."

There are related factors involved in this as well. For example, the on-going maintenance is going to result in significantly degraded customer service. There will be delays. The customer is not going to regard the experience of using that particular road as pleasant or up to standard. Then there is the increased incidence of accidents involving road crew and customers. The lower quality roads would in themselves contribute to accidents and crashes as well. The likelyhood of low grade vehicle damage increases as does general wear and tear. These are costs and risks transferred to customers. In the presence of other options they are not going to want to continue to bear such.

Alternatives to using particular roads appear, gradually taking a toll on receipts as they come to be considered more appealing in comparison. Competitors take increasing market share. Customers begin to alter their behaviour. It takes but marginal market changes for a provider to experience a loss making situation.

In the capitalist free market system no provider is granted a monopoly to exploit a market. That is, there is no authority which guarantees him custom or shuts out competitors and alternatives. The customer really is The King and he is a ruthless, self-interested and fickle monarch (as is proper).

Competition and the development of innovative new means of providing what customers will voluntarily purchase means that the pressure is on prices (charged to customers) to decline over time. In that environment a high cost, maintenance intensive operation is at a severe disadvantage. It becomes difficult to pass on expensive overheads and costs. Efficient use of capital and resource is demanded. An ever on-going drive to increase quality while reducing costs is the context in which the provider finds himself operating. This all drives providers towards better roads.

---

"...if every road owner acts rationally..."

A road owner is in business. He makes money by charging customers for the goods/services he provides. If enough customers choose to go elsewhere his business will suffer and eventually fail. Road owners who fail to act in their own best interests will encounter the situation where they beome insolvent. The capital and resources once controlled by them will be reallocated to others.

There is a strong incentive for a road owner to behave as rationaly as he is capable. If he does not, then his future is less than ideal. Again, the resources and capital will be reallocated to new operators to put to work. If the new guys don't intend to share the fate of their predecessor they need to act more rationally than did he.

In a free market there is strong economic incentive to act rationally. In a free market, over the long run, there is no alternative.

---

By socialising infrastructure you are engaging in the application of a particular ideology. This is why I put those two questions to you previously.

It would be interesting to discover what you think your ideology is. So, for those two simple questions, please provide a yes or no answer.

Cheers

LGM

3/05/2010 07:49:00 am  
Anonymous Mark said...

LGM, I agree with the principle of everything you say.

However when it comes to the specifics, Sally is correct that you don't know what you're talking about! The current road msintenance is not some socialist conspiracy to waste money. It just reflects NZ's limited population, and that the cost of constructing to higher standards outweighs the cost of regular maintenance.

At the operations levels anyway, road authorities are still incentivised to maintain a road for as little money as possible - and for the most part do a reasonable job.

But I agree that if privatised it would probably be better.

3/05/2010 12:24:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

Mark

Either you agree with me or you don't. You can't hold both positions simultaneously.

Regarding the specifics of road costs, there is data publically available that can be reviewed & analysed. Some vital material is not so easily available for various reasons (such as "commercial sensitivity"- as if it's really commerce these guys are engaged in- welfare more like). Much, but not all, of the road cost data touted around in NZ is seriously awry, incomplete, repleat with accounting tricks or creative.

If you are setting about determining the best allocation of capital and overhead over time, then it is important to carefully consider the assumptions, & the source, of the data and the studies you rely upon. Further, someone pretending to expertise on the basis of what a "brother", allegedly a "roading engineer" (an imprecise lable covering a lot of possibilities, though usually not the vital one of the owner of capital making primary allocation decisions), supposedly assured is not in a position to provide credible opinion. Certainly there is no expertise or authority to be expected from that source. Such are best ignored as the dishonest frauds they are.

My original comment was that Kiwi roads are of poor quality and that the reason is that they are done on the cheap (hence "good enough for government work"). That's fact. A necessary result of that is ever on-going maintenance work. There is no getting around that, as it is established fact also.

Now, whether the high-maintenance approach is the best strategy or not can be argued and in this case much is dependent upon the interests of the party making such an argument.

Firstly, pretty much everyone in NZ in road building is the recipient of government largess (or is attempting to become a recipient). To be brutal about it, they are corporates seeking welfare and subsidy from government or they are bureaucrats employed within government structures of one sort or another. Such people have no real stake at risk in the sense that a private individual does when he operates a private (non-subsidised) business free of government interference. Their analysis, such as it is, is often incomplete and, for them, oversights and errors are not such a major problem. A "roading engineer" is unlikely to be bankrupted or even suffer financial set-back if the road he works on turns out to be several times more expensive to operate than some bureaucrat imagined it might be. His analysis can (and usually is) self-serving and slanted for his purpose (which is to win govt funding). Unfortunately the presence of govt as the primary source of funding and decision making corrupts the entire roading industry. By its interventions govt necessarily distorts the industry and subverts the decision making of those who operate in that industry. Any claim of efficiency or better economics made by such folk should be treated with utmost suspicion. As Lord Dainton explained on more than one occasion, the more you hear their claims, the more carefully you must examine them. Remember, always check premise. That will avoid all sorts of unwelcome surprises later.

Next, the analysis of what is the best approach to take with capital allocation comes down to investigation of many variables. For example, consider the time horizon of the analysis. The longer it is, the less successful high-maintenance options are likely to be. If you think about it you'll soon come to appreciate that the less you have to redo the same work, the less it is going to cost you over the long term. Roads exist for many years so choose your time horizon carefully. An analogy would be your superannuation. Do you choose a fund that demonstrated spectacular growth for, say, three years and has not made much progress since or one which has demonstrated solid growth over twenty years?


----continues----

3/05/2010 07:04:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

When life cycle costing a roading project there are different ways the analysis can be undertaken. How you do it, what costs you include, what you discount or even ignore etc. is dependent on certain premise or assumptions inherent in your model, or, if you like, your ideology. We've mentioned time horizon as one factor. There are all sorts of others. For example, the extraordinary accelerated wear and tear suffered by vehicle tyres, suspension components, bushes etc. due to a decision to emply coarse chip instead of proper seal. Should the costs of extra accidents, injuries, deaths etc. such a surface finish contributes be considered? A govt monopoly does not need to undertake that analysis, nor does it need to properly apportion such costs (or act on them) even if it does happen to do the analysis. It is able to avoid responsibility for its decisions by arbitrary fiat. The horrible leaky homes saga is one example of this behaviour. On the other hand a private operator would need to carefully consider what he is going to do about such an issue and many, many others just like it. He needs to consider that which is presently rendered invisible by government whim, that which is unseen as Bastiat would say. Will the customer accept cost offsets or should the private operator endeavour to solve them?

A vital factor for a private operator to watch for is that he is only able to deal with people on a voluntary basis. He can't suppress competitors by force. He can't guarantee custom by force either. Sure, in the short run he can provide an inferior service while people are prepared to put up with it, but once those people's expectations rise and they find a better provider, a better arrangement, a more pleasant deal, a more convenient set up. another option or even just decide to make a change for some subjective value that is important to them (individually), then his income stream is under impressive threat. And it will continue to be under downward pressure, always. Over the long term he must compete for his custom. He needs to convince people to voluntarily use his services. He can't force them. Perhaps that means he needs to increase the grip of the surface of his road. Perhaps he needs to incorporate less crown while still providing good drainage (NZ's excessively crowned roads cause accelerated tyre wear and adversely affect vehicle dynamics and controllability in various ways). Perhaps he needs to choose a surface that does not acoustically excite the vehicle structure (NZ State Highways are notorious for this problem) so that travel is more pleasant (road roar is tiring, it is a contributor to fatigue, fatigue causes accidents...). Whatever he chooses to do he has to do it with the customer's demands clearly in mind. If he fails to satisfy them.... there is no such threat or risk for the career bureaucrat. He is safe from much (most) of the consequences of his decisions.

By the way, Von Mises wrote at length about much of this. He showed that socialism has no means to determine what people voluntarily require. It can't make economic calculation. It suffers from moral hazard. It is immorality at every level.

In the end you come to the fundamental issue upon which all else rests. Do you support freedom and liberty or its anti-thesis? If you address the two questions I posted previously you can soon determine what your ideology really requires. It may be that what you think you support contradicts what you actually do support. Why not post your answers and we can find out.

LGM

3/05/2010 07:04:00 pm  
Anonymous Sally said...

It still comes down to the fact that you are talking with absolutely no experience of constructing roads whereas my brother who has project managed construction of roads and has been privy to cost comparisons of concrete surfaces as used overseas compared to NZ chip seal surfaceds KNOWS because of analysis that the NZ method is cheaper for NZ.

The longer you write something doesn't make it correct. It just makes it long.

I would like to see LGM's statistics on how many accidents in NZ are CAUSED by the roading surface. And therefore how much is likely to be saved. Most serious accidents are the result of driver error, speed and alocohol or a combination of these factors.

Just because roads are publicly funded does not mean that construction does not take into account the lifetime costs of the roads. You are blissfully unaware of how roading contracts are designed and how they are built.

Best stick to the philosophy LGM because the real worl seems far away from where you are.

But keep digging if you must...

3/05/2010 07:42:00 pm  
Anonymous Mark said...

@ LGM

My statement was pretty clear I thought. I agree with the *principle* that roads can be, and in an ideal laissez faire society, would be private.

However I'm observing that some of the "facts" you're using to support your position are simply wrong.

I don't just think this, I know it. I am a civil engineeer that had experience building roads, and has run a road maintenance contract for a private contractor.

Life-cycle costing shows that for the relatively small traffic volumes of NZ, it's generally more cost effective to frequently repair roads, than it is to construct them to a higher standard and avoid maintenance. That's a fact.

Roads are designed (generally by private consultants I might add) to give maximum value for money - i.e. their job is to find the appropriate balance between long term and short term costs.

Like any field, there are varying degrees of competence and incompetence. But I've seen no evidence to suggest widespread incompetence or bias towards short term fixes as you allege.

Would the level of competence be higher if roads were private? Yes, probably. but that doesn't mean everyone working under the current system *must* be incompetent.

To compare our roads to an English motorway, conclude they're "poor quality" by comparison , and then leap to the conclusion that government incompetence or corruption are the only explanation (because that theory supports your pre-conceived philosophical beliefs) is seriously flawed thinking.

If anything the truth is the opposite. Because our tax base is so much less, any new project is scrutinised to a greater degree than it would be in other countries (with superior roads). Most roading authorities would love to construct high quality roads that don't need maintenance. Trouble is they can't justify it economically.

Philsophically, your attempts to extroplate specific facts from general principles (and claim that anyone who's observed otherwise does so because of their idealogy) has a name - it's called Rationalism.

3/08/2010 03:10:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

Mark

So you are a civil engineer who once ran a job for a contractor. That's nice.

This is a matter of economics and it would appear your qualifications and experience fall right outside that sphere of human endeavour. You THINK you know. In reality YOU don't know. Paraphrasing Rumsfeld; you are in the position of dealing with unknown unknowns.

So, take off the high vis, put away the hard had and put the clip-board in the drawer. It's time to sit down and prepare to invest some serious time researching ECONOMICS.

You write: "Life-cycle costing shows that for the relatively small traffic volumes of NZ, it's generally more cost effective to frequently repair roads, than it is to construct them to a higher standard and avoid maintenance. That's a fact."

No, that is not a fact. It is a debatable opinion.

You also claim: "Roads are designed (generally by private consultants I might add) to give maximum value for money - i.e. their job is to find the appropriate balance between long term and short term costs."

That's more opinion.

You need to ask whether the consultants really are seeking the outcome you claim, whether the structural distortions inherent in the industry they work within allow that outcome and whether their interests coincide with that of the travelling public (you should go further and ask those questions about every decision maker in the industry from the administrating bureaucrats down, top to bottom).

To get an impression of the commonality and magnitude of errors generated by various project life-cycle cost models, as actually employed throughout your industry, the research of Bent Flyvbjerg is illustrative. Flyvbjerg and colleagues have undertaken rigorous examination of cost models, life-cycle models and the projections in regards to a large number of civil infrastructure projects, World-wide, over several decades. They examined the projected and declared installation, operational and life cycle costs, as presented by those involved. That data was compared with real results, as actually achieved and experienced in reality. The comparisons included consideration of offset and transferred costs where possible. They found that the information created for, used for, presented to & by governments (and interested parties- can you say special interests?) was grossly inaccurate in near every case (not just in the majority of cases but in almost 100% of them!). Not only were the models erroneous but more concerning was that the publically reported costs and revenues suffered similar inaccuracy. Error of an order of magnitude was not uncommon (you know, like a cost entry of $50 million appearing as a mere $5 million). The researchers were very diplomatic in presenting what the reasons for the inaccuracies might have been (they pulled their punches). They touched on some of the structural and systemic issues that exist within the industry, with the consultancies, the government agencies etc. What they had encountered was an example of the problem of socialist calculation. To understand what that problem is it is necessary to look to Ludwig Von Mises.

---continues---

3/11/2010 09:15:00 am  
Anonymous LGM said...

Von Mises wrote about the socialist calculation problem in the text, "Socialist Economy". Originally published in German, an English version is avilable. Check out the Mises Institute for you may be able to get it at a discounted rate or even for free. Mises demonstrated that within socialist systems it is impossible to know whether you are creating wealth or consuming it. Nor is there a reliable means for determining what the best alternatives for allocating resource actually is. There are no mechanisms to so do and, worse, no mechanism to provide accurate feedback to capital deployment decision makers. The more heavily socialised an economic sector, the worse the allocation problem becomes. The more govt interferes in the economy, the greater the distortion and the more difficult it becomes to make sound decisions. In the end data is suspect, riddled with errors, distorted beyond recognition, no longer corresponding with reality and not able to. The only exception to this knowledgeless state of affairs is the certainty that the situation is declining from difficult to critical, eventually from critical to FUBAR.

Unfortunately the activities of building and operating road infrastructure in most of the World is thoroughly socialised- definately the case for NZ. In the vast majority of cases the funding and administration of these activities has been nationalised, as has the installation and operational risk. That makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to determine the true value of such projects. The risk cost for being wrong is socialised and the individual is bilched to pay for all of it.

You write: "Like any field, there are varying degrees of competence and incompetence. But I've seen no evidence to suggest widespread incompetence or bias towards short term fixes as you allege."

Yet the evidence is exactly as you and others admit, the roads are built on the cheap and require an intensive maintenance regime. They require that work right from inception, right from the get go. That is definately short term fix- a temporary road requiring endless rework. The system requires offset costs, special subsidy (whether hidden or structural), transfer of overhead, socialisation of risk, nationalisation etc. This has gone on for so long now that it is treated as the norm. Trouble is, it isn't normal and it isn't sustainable.

You wrote: "To compare our roads to an English motorway, conclude they're "poor quality" by comparison , and then leap to the conclusion that government incompetence or corruption are the only explanation (because that theory supports your pre-conceived philosophical beliefs) is seriously flawed thinking."

Leaping to the defense of an unsustainable system of infrastructure construction & operation is the flawed thinking on this occasion. You should take a breath and think for just a moment before getting hysterical. What has been pointed out to you is that the structure of the present road building and repair industry, along with its system of decision making and funding, is grossly distorted. In a free market such would not be the case, hence the roads would likely be of superior quality AND there would be competitive alternatives. Understand that it is your pre-conceived prejudices and biases which are the expression of flawed thinking. What you THINK you know is wrong. Time to broaden your interests some and make some honest enquiry into HOW your models operate, what the built-in premise and assumptions are, HOW the socialist calculation problem affects the information available to you and HOW capital allocation decisions are actually made within your industry. To do otherwise would be irrational. We wouldn't want that now, would we?

By the way, there were some questions pertaining to freedom and morality you've failed to address. I trust that was an accidental oversight and that you're not evading them...

LGM

3/11/2010 09:15:00 am  
Blogger Mark said...

@LGM

My knowledge of economics is fine, thankyou. But even so, I don't need economics to observe that one aspect of your theory contradicts 15 years of career experience in this field.

If I sent you a link purporting to prove that water can flow uphill, would you waste your time reading it, or would you dismiss it out of hand? That's analagous to what you're asking me to do.

Your continued insistence on technical/engineering matters you clearly know nothing about - and the way in which you do it (rather than listening to someone who does - and in principle is on your side in this debate!) tells me:

a) You're stuck in your ivory tower, and have no intention of coming down, and

b) You like to feel superior, whether it's justified or not, and

c)You're probably an immature little shit, who despite having more or less the right abstract beliefs, needs to extract their head form their arse and get some real life experience.

For the record again.....I think your conclusions on the virtue of private roads - both morally and practically, is generally correct.

But so is a broken clock twice a day.

The current system is not as bad as you assume, and road-utopia would not result from making things private in NZ. But it would improve things, and it's morally superior. On that point we do agree.

If you feel as strongly about this issue as you seem to then how about you:

1) Test your theory against some real life NZ examples on the economics of different road upgrade options - and if it exposes some inconsistences with your theory , modify it to suit. Your argument will be stronger for it (You can probably find something from the LTSA website), and

2) Rather than spend your time debating me on this technical point, address some of the reasonable objections Sally, et al have made to private roads in principle (which BTW, I think can be answered).

3/18/2010 02:12:00 pm  

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