Normative Economics?

Norman Mineta, the one-time Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, knew that another 200 or so smaller container handling ports – rather than the half-dozen so-called “hub ports” or “king ports” – would overcome the disadvantages shoved down the throats of unwary U.S. consumers and taxpayers.

Had decision-making authorities heeded his advice:

– – goods would be delivered much closer to end users, and transportation costs would thereby be reduced;

– … so would the final cost to the consumer;

– … and so would the damage to the nation’s highways caused by the thousands of unnecessary delivery trucks;

– – pollution from those thousands and thousands of diesel-spewing delivery trucks would be drastically lessened and almost eliminated completely;

– – traffic congestion in and around container ports would be eliminated;

– … and so would the many respiratory diseases being inflicted upon the folks (and children) living in the vicinity of those “king ports”.

And had those decision-making authorities heeded Secretary Mineta’s advice:

– there wouldn’t be such a hullabaloo about the billions and billions of budget dollars needed to rebuild the damaged “nation’s highways, rails and bridges”.

We never get anything right, and we never seem to learn from our mistakes. Yesterday the Chicago Tribune carried a story by Peter Frost of the Daily Press. Peter wrote:

“The Port of Virginia and Northrop Grumman Corp.’s Newport News shipyard got a boost from the White House on Monday in its federal budget proposal for fiscal 2012. The Obama administration proposed spending $ 27.4 million in funding for the Craney Island Marine Terminal, a dual-purpose project that would create a new [another?] ocean cargo facility for Virginia Port Authority …”

Now get this. “The expansion’s estimated $ 2.2 billion to $ 2.5 billion cost”, Peter continues, “will be split evenly between the state and federal governments.” –

And where do you suppose the “state and federal governments” will get the $ 2 billion plus? This is clearly a case of demanding that the taxpayers expedite – and pay for – their own funerals.