Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bubbles and Obama

Several weeks ago, I read "The Next Bubble" by Eric Janszen in the February, 2008 issue of Harper's Magazine.

The next bubble got most of my attention. Janszen predicts that “There is one industry that fits the bill: alternative energy, the development of more energy-efficient products, along with viable alternatives to oil, including wind, solar, and geothermal power, along with the use of nuclear energy to produce sustainable oil substitutes, such as liquefied hydrogen from water.”

I didn’t pay much attention to this statement: “Supporting this alternative-energy bubble will be a boom in infrastructure—transportation and communications systems, water, and power…. After last August’s bridge collapse in Minnesota, it took only a week for libertarian Robert Poole, director of transportation studies for the Reason Foundation to renew the call for “highway public-private partnerships funded by tolls….” [emphasis mine]

Toll roads? Privatized highways only for those who can afford them? I’ve saved several articles about toll roads, including The New York Times January 19th article, "Work is Afoot to Take the Free Out of Freeway." And I joined forces with others here in California to fight the successful battle to stop a six lane toll road through San Onofre State Beach.

Now I’m learning that there’s more than public highways, open to everyone, at stake. It appears that presidential candidate Barack Obama is calling for a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank. The weekend edition of Information Clearinghouse posted "Barack Obama Fronts Wall Street's Infrastructure" by Bruce Marshall. I don’t know enough about the author to simply swallow everything in the article, but I’m now paying attention to public-private partnerships, “PPPs.”

I found another online article, "Barack Obama and the Gentrification of America - The Manchurian Messiah?" by Xenophon. Excerpt: “Soon, when the Messiah Obama is president, the NIC [National Investment Corporation], under the guise of the National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank (NIRB), will begin the process of national gentrification by collateralizing our roads, schools, public utilities and housing turning America into a feudal zone of private toll roads, school buildings, water and gas lines. We will have to pay tolls and taxes on everything. Welcome to gentrified America.”

Marshall and Xenophon are searingly critical of privatizing our infrastructure and Obama for supporting it. Will a NIRB create yet another bubble that will inevitably burst? I don’t know. I’m opposed to privatizing infrastructure but support Obama. However, I know that it’s important to be open to new information.

(caracature of Obama : Publius Pundit)

1 comment:

Dan Gurney, Mr. Kindergarten said...

Hi Gail,

I'm skeptical of Obama also. He recently cast his vote in the Senate FOR Bush's bill to allow spying on Americans and providing amnesty to the illegal spying that's already taken place, right? He's for MORE military spending! More??

I can see he has considerable skills on stage. He calls for change. More public private partnerships are NOT what I want.