October 30, 2011

The Antonym of Progress is Progressivism

That title looks like this post might involve politics or something!
As a precaution we've put the post below the fold and replaced it with Squid Girl (Who we assume to be non-partisan).

(We wouldn't want our crabbier readers to get steamed...'cause our popularity might flounder.)

Rachel Maddow has been appearing in this MSNBC ad for a while now.

Given the fact that the argument she makes in this ad is pretty damned reasonable on its own merits, (combined with her toning down her usual disdainful and condescending blue-county sneer,) one can be forgiven if one misses how utterly dishonest this ad is.

You see....Hoover Dam could never be built today. The progressives wouldn't allow it. If the environmental impact statements we deal with today had been had been required in the 30's flooding a good chunk of the grand canyon would never have been tolerated...ever. Indeed, far from pushing for more hydro power, the Progressives are trying to destroy what we have.....to wit.

... destruction of four hydroelectric dams along the Klamath River – an action driven by environmentalists and the Obama administration. Most locals say the dam-busting will undermine their property rights and ruin the local farming and ranch economy, which is all that’s left since environmental regulators destroyed the logging and mining industries......

Of course the people responsible for this debacle are, out the other corner of their mouths, screaming about the dangers of global warming and imploring us to use electrical generating methods that don't emit CO2. So why would they remove the hydro-electric dams? Well first off, they obviously they don't actually believe their own hype about CO2. Still, why go to considerable effort and expense to ruin peoples lives? Well, there are some theories on that....

...These rural folks, living in the shadow of the majestic Mount Shasta, believe that they are being driven away so that their communities can essentially go back to the wild, to conform to a modern environmentalist ethos that puts wildlands above humanity.

I'm beginning to think that these rural folks don't 'believe' this...they understand it. Thanks to Professor Jacobson for pointing out the above quoted article, he has considerable thoughts on it here, where he also points out this piece.

Blowing up Dams to screw rural people in favor of fish is only one aspect of this.
NIMBYism is as well. While the "Not In My Back Yard" mindset is most certainly a bipartisan phenomena, the regulations that make it nigh impossible to overcome are pretty much entirely the fault of the Progressives.

This brings us to windmills, specifically that rarest and most elusive type of wind energy....the type that can actually be viable.

There are two places in the USA that wind farms are unambiguously practical. South Texas and off the coast of Cape Cod. Cape Cod ironically enough, Cape Cod is populated by the very lefties who, out he other corner of their mouth, implore the rest of us to plant windmills everywhere else...and yet.

Friday’s decision is not merely a setback for Cape Wind.  It worsens the climate for offshore wind energy development more generally.  The longer and more uncertain the regulatory process for such projects, the harder it will be to encourage private firms to invest — and the more difficult it will be to expand wind power offshore.

The Cape Wind experience also shows that it does not take much to gum up the regulatory gears for new projects of this sort.  Opposition to Cape Wind has been driven by a few dozen families willing to invest their time and money to influence the regulatory process — and it’s worked.  It does not matter whether a proposed project is popular with local residents, as a relatively small group of naysayers can exploit existing regulatory requirements to slow things down in the hope of eventually killing the project altogether. 

Of course while wind power is vastly overrated by the left, there actually ARE a few other places that, while not quite as superlative as Cape Cod, are still potentially viable for wind power. The Mid-Atlantic coast is one. However, if the most optimal place around can't get past the lawyer stage, then the more marginal areas are certainly non-starters.

There is another darling of the left, high speed and light commuter rail.

This is only viable in a few locations like the northeast corridor, but there actually is a potential market for a few other areas such as expanding the existing Northeast system down between the burgeoning cities of the Southeast. ( burgeoning, I might add, because a lack of progressivism facilitates progress)

This is being undertaken now in fact...it's been being undertaken for quite a while...the project started in 1992...Of course there are permits and impact statements and such.
First off...this graphic demonstrates how the lefties intend the process to "work" (this would be best case).

Those aren't months at the top of the graph, those are years. The only companies that can wait this long are the very largest ones, which of course prevents start ups from competing.

Now, let's look at the ACTUAL progress shall we? Yes, scroll down...(The charts in flash or something). Tier 2 of the Impact statement is expected to be completed in 2013....1992-2013=21 years...that's 21 years of BS until they can begin to get permits.

So the permitting process is off by a decade in a project that the Progressives absolutely adore. Not only that this project runs ON OR NEXT TO EXISTING RAILROAD TRACKS USING EXISTING RIGHTS OF WAY!

Even with these advantages...21 years.

We have a similar issue locally.

For some years we have had a light rail project in Hampton Roads. The "Tide" recently opened but it goes basically nowhere, (a parking lot actually) because at after it leaves the city of Norfolk the permitting process suddenly gets wonky.

This area is very unusual in that a commuter rail system MIGHT be viable. Being old, it is crisscrossed with many existing and mostly unused railroad tracks from the days when commuter rail was widespread (before it was "nudged" into oblivion by progressive central planners betting on Detroit and the U.A.W. to provide full employment). These rail lines pass through various community centers which were once small towns. Also, quite unusually, some of these tracks extend in several directions to give several areas of recent suburban development  (and all the way to the state line) remarkable coverage. This is because of existing and/or no longer used freight lines and the rail lines going to military bases. The rail lines pass behind several shopping centers (that they once served) which could double as train stations.

If any modern sprawling area in the US can support a new light rail system it would be the cities on the Southside of Hampton Roads. And yet, even given that a commuter rail net could be put together here largely by refurbishing existing tracks, the one line to the oceanfront hasn't been finished yet.  That one line is stalled due to federal permitting and the permitting to extend it to the Beach is not expected to be done until the end of 2013. Any other use of the rails is delayed indefinitely.

These examples are of things that Progressives, out one corner of their mouths, wholeheartedly support.  One can imagine the problems faced by actually productive endeavors.

This is a massive problem and is the real reason we no longer do big things in the public OR private fields. It is one of the biggest reasons that companies are relocating to China and India and it acts as a huge hurdle to new companies starting up.

So you see Ms. Maddow the problem you point out is not because we haven't elected modern Progressives. It's because we have.

The solution seems straightforward, but politically problematic.
Step One: Un-elect Progressives (because they won't go along with steps 2 3 and 4)
Step Two: Massively streamline the process and stop worrying about the impact of construction on snail trails. By all means, put in wildlife crossings wherever practical, but permitting should be otherwise limited to geological assessments and assurances that pollutants will not be discharged into the environment. Fine regulators and and 3rd party assessors in the process if they take more than a year.(This will obviously require an appeals process but appeals need to be statutorily expedited)
Step Three: Remove the legislative tools that asshats are using to stymie things like the cape wind project and new nuclear plants.
Step Four: Strictly enforce property rights and use the force of the law and he second amendment against monkeywrenchers and such.
Step Five: Don't Touch, and if anything tighten most laws regarding discharges of pollutants. Environmental regulations and laws should not be a straitjacket on society but clean air and water are a fundamental national concern.* It should not be forgotten that conservation is a form of conservatism.

Progressives, in their rush to regulate everything and everyone have prevented anyone, even themselves,  from getting much done in any reasonable amount of time. This is due to Pournelles Iron Law as much as their own hubris and real world inexperience. But their fetish for large regulating bureaucracies staffed with unfireable government employees   is what has made Progressivism the antonym of progress.

*(Besides, we don't want to antagonize Squid Girl.)

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 06:49 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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