Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in an interview Tuesday the United States should not be “too proud” to learn from countries the Biden administration claims outrank America in infrastructure quality.
Yahoo News reported:
As the Biden administration begins promoting its infrastructure plan to members of Congress and the American public, Buttigieg stressed that the U.S. should look to the example set by other countries.
“The U.S. shouldn’t be too proud to learn from other countries, especially now that we’re out of the top 10 [ranked countries for infrastructure],” he said. “I always want to see the U.S. No. 1.”
Buttigieg said the U.S. shouldn’t fall behind its competitors or its allies, pointing to Japan, Spain and China as countries with impressive high-speed train systems, which he said “can’t come soon enough” to the U.S.
According to the Biden administration, the U.S. ranks 13th in the world for “infrastructure quality.”
Its analysis concluded communist China is #3.
“We need to be keeping up with all of our competitors — whether it’s a strategic competitor like China, whether it’s our allies in Europe. We should be doing the best,” Buttigieg told Yahoo.
It was not clear if the Biden administration was evaluating traditional infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, or its expanded definition that also includes social services.
In 2017, a story published by Saïd Business School argued “China’s infrastructure investment may be doing more harm than good.”
‘The evidence suggests that for over half of the infrastructure investments in China made in the last three decades the costs are larger than the benefits they generate, which means the projects destroy economic value instead of generating it,” Dr. Atif Ansar, Programme Director of the MSc in Major Programme Management, Saïd Business School, said.
Committing to big projects is risky, the publication argued, because they are susceptible to cost overruns.
“In a lot of the projects we looked at, the users simply didn’t show up,” Dr. Alexander Budzier said. “The cars don’t show up on the roads and bridges, and the riders don’t turn up on the trains. That means the schemes don’t generate the revenue they need to pay back their loans.”
Professor Bent Flyvbjerg noted infrastructure projects create jobs in the short run, “But as soon as the last team leaves the construction site, that project is no long a positive for the economy.”
“With politicians everywhere eager to get shovels in the ground, it’s a timely reminder that big infrastructure schemes can create as many problems as they solve,” the analysis said.