Obama’s Hopeless Plan
New in the Website
A few days ago, I published an article named Illusions: On the US Government Biased Statistics and DARPA. Among other things it was claimed there that the US government statistics are biased - the country’s economy is just the third or fourth largest in the world – and that the US technologically lags behind other countries, except for mass-murder related technologies. Then, Pete – an American friend – sent an encouraging note and that was pretty much all of it. You can imagine my surprise when the very following day (September 6, 2010), the US President publicly answered me. In a well televised speech he claimed “We used to have the best infrastructure in the world, and we can have it again” while announcing a $50bn infrastructure plan. Truth is that a discrete email from him would have made me happier, but I don’t mind answering him publicly.
The leading line of his speech was so catchy and optimistic that I decided to check out the details. As explained in the abovementioned article, the net value of the new project is quite irrelevant. The actual plans are vastly more important; luckily, also this data was readily accessible. “Over the next six years, we are going to rebuild 150,000 miles of our roads,” “We're going to lay and maintain 4,000 miles of our railways,” and “We're going to restore 150 miles of runways” said Mr. Obama in a Milwaukee event marking the Labor Day holiday in the US. I can’t understand why he is still using Imperial Units, we are well after 1776; even the CIA uses now the metric system. Yet, in the following paragraph I’ll correct for units assuming he referred to “statute miles.”
Numbers, numbers, numbers. Often states present numbers in a way they are hard to evaluate in order to fool the masses. The President did exactly that in this case; finding the reason for this was easy. To avoid claims I am using anti-American data, all the following numbers have been extracted from the CIA website; however, I do warn my readers that those guys are master data-cooks. The USA has 6,465,799 km of roadways; Mr. Obama wants to rebuild roughly 241,400 km of them; that means 3.7% of the total. This last number is more significant than the one quoted by the President. Similarly, the country has 226,427 km of railways; now he proposed to “lay and maintain” 6437 km of them, that means 2.8%. The runways statistics are more difficult to analyze due to the nature of that environment. The US has 5194 airports with paved runways (I assume that’s what the President wants to “restore,” otherwise he would have said “build”). If assuming a modern runway is roughly 1.5 mile long, then 150 miles of runways amount to 100 runways. Assuming only one runway per airport would be restored then only 1.9% of airports would be upgraded.
The new numbers are easier to grasp. The President wants to fix 3.7% of the roads, 2.8 of the railways and 1.9% of the airports. That’s a number expected of regular maintenance activities. Probably Bolivia, Nepal and Zambia invest similar proportions of work every year.
The bottom line is minor roadwork presented as a new Industrial Revolution. This was a hopeless speech reinforcing the future described in Illusions: On the US Government Biased Statistics and DARPA: the US is slowly but surely sliding into oblivion. Soon it would look as Israel: sunken in violent wars against everybody, targeting its own citizens as enemies and seen by everybody else as a terror state. MagLev Trains won’t connect LA with NY.
”Bite me!” a fat Pentagon general would probably say after reading this article. I won’t bite you, dear general, but, sooner or later, reality will.
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