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Infrastructure Improvement, Part Two

November 23, 2016

On November 21 I predicted that massive, deficit creating, infrastructure legislation may pass Congress and be signed into law within the first 100 days of the Trump Administration. That capricious and irresponsible action will be justified by observing that our roads, bridges, tunnels and airports have been neglected for years.

Government officials like big spending programs and our business classes are forceful advocates for big spending, especially for airports. Businessmen and women travel by air and see that airports in the United States do not compare well with those in the People’s Republic of China, airports in Eastern European capitals and places in the Middle East less democratic than America.

Much business is conducted by air travel between New York, Chicago and Los Angeles but La Guardia and JFK airports in New York are a disgrace, the Midway terminal in Chicago is located in a slum, LAX has an improvement plan that is larger than the budgets of some small nations, and Democrat controlled Philadelphia’s airport was never widened for large jets in use today. Consequently arriving passengers spend more time waiting for a “slot” where their plane may park than they do in the air. And passengers wanting to check must wait in lines a mile long.

The Communist regime in the People’s Republic of China simply issues a decree and it is done. Does that mean we should grow our federal deficit in order to compete with authoritarian regimes?

One of the more interesting experiments, prior to 9/11, was acceptance of the management of some airports by private companies.  BUA, British United, sought contracts to manage airport operations and bragged that on-airport prices were the same as off- airport prices for food, drink and other commodities and that repairs were done at night. They instructed staff, of all levels, in how to use a plunger to “fix” toilets.

When in an American airport today it is not unusual to find that escalators are not working, or workmen disrupt passenger movement–in the middle of the day. All that is representative of government ownership.  Most airports are managed by “Authorities” composed of local worthies who relish free parting they get for turning the backs on true reforms through privatization.

When Bin Laden’s attack on the World Trade Center proved that airports were not organized properly to prevent acts of terror, the brief experiment with airport privatization was terminated.

Our airports, however, remain third class–and unprotected–despite an army of Homeland Security guards that make “checking-in” a hassle because they were designed for an earlier era when passengers–and the curious–could enter a terminal even if they were not boarding an airplane. Privatization will change that.


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