Tuesday assorted links

by on January 3, 2017 at 12:00 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 Ray Lopez January 3, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Sex? Did somebody say sex?

2 Ray Lopez January 3, 2017 at 12:05 pm

#1 – “Although individuals in the highest cognitive ability group had significantly lower odds of experiencing vaginal intercourse than those in the average ability group…” – translation: nerds and geeks can’t get laid. Chalk up another study that’s obvious…

3 msgkings January 3, 2017 at 12:41 pm

Everyone gets laid in the Phillipines!

4 Cove99 January 3, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Thanks for clarifying Ray……I thought it implied they were playing for the other team

5 Brian Donohue January 3, 2017 at 1:17 pm

A bunch of rocket scientists puzzling over an engineering problem:

“C’mon guys, we can figure this out. This isn’t like talking to girls.”

6 Axa January 3, 2017 at 1:25 pm

Ray, don’t make a fool of yourself and read the whole article here: goo.gl/oMo4AJ

For the internet challenged, use http://www.sci-hub.cc to read the whole article. cc stands for Cocos Islands 😉

7 Mark Thorson January 3, 2017 at 6:42 pm

It could mean they’re gay.

8 too hot for MR January 3, 2017 at 7:10 pm

Ray’s interpretation doesn’t withstand a quick reading of the abstract. Stratification by gender removes significance, which without further reading I’d guess means the higher-IQ cohort was more heavily male, thus less vagina sex regardless of sexual orientation.

9 Mark Thorson January 3, 2017 at 8:33 pm

But there’s no category for penile sex. I think the classification was based on orifice, so the common form of heterosexual sex would be categorized as vaginal sex for both partners.

10 too hot for MR January 3, 2017 at 9:48 pm

Right, female homosexuals will still have vaginal sex while male homosexuals won’t. The stated result doesn’t make the smart cohort more or less gay; it makes them more male.

11 John Hall January 3, 2017 at 12:15 pm

#1 says my IP is blocked. Doesn’t even bring up the abstract.

12 Dain January 3, 2017 at 3:13 pm

God that’s gotta be frustrating.

13 Careless January 3, 2017 at 4:48 pm

Few studies have investigated the sexual development of populations with low cognitive abilities in the United States. This article examines the relationship between cognitive ability and various sexual experiences from adolescence (ages 12 to 18) to early adulthood (ages 28 to 34). Data were from 13,845 respondents interviewed at Waves I and IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), a probability sample of adolescents in the United States followed from adolescence to adulthood. Adjusted logistic regression models were used to study relationships between cognitive ability, approximated by the Add Health Picture Vocabulary Test (AHPVT), and experiences of vaginal, oral, and anal sex. After controlling for biological sex, age, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status (SES), individuals in the lowest cognitive ability group had significantly lower odds of experiencing each type of sex than those in the average ability group. Although individuals in the highest cognitive ability group had significantly lower odds of experiencing vaginal intercourse than those in the average ability group, this association did not remain significant when analyses were stratified by biological sex. These differences in experiences have implications for future health and warrant further study to understand policy implications for sexual health services and education.

14 jseliger January 3, 2017 at 12:22 pm

6. Why is American subway-building the most expensive in the world?

An important question especially as the Second Avenue Subway moves (maybe?) to Phase II. I rode Phase I on opening day and while that was fun, the project began in 2007 and ten years is too long.

In the meantime Seattle seems to have (somewhat) tamed transit costs.

15 JWatts January 3, 2017 at 12:30 pm

“6. Why is American subway-building the most expensive in the world?”

That’s an interesting topic, but this article really doesn’t shed much light on the problem. It’s too busy Voxsplaining to actually get into depth on the reasons why building subways in America is more expensive.

Apparently the Iraq War has nothing to do with why subways are more expensive to build. And Obamacare proves it’s possible for America to build cheap subways??? And it’s not the high cost of Union labor.

(Though the article contradicts itself with this comment: in which New York uses 25 tunnel-boring machine workers for a job that Spain handles with nine.)

16 Philo January 3, 2017 at 12:38 pm

Matt Yglesias makes it sound as if he is rejecting the usual conservatives’ claim that “labor unions [are] the villain for any kind of excessive government expense” in building infrastructure, but what is his alternative view? He evidently regards unions as inevitably politically powerful while unorganized workers are politically weak. “In the United States, where unions are extremely weak overall [workers in the private sector are mostly not organized] but strong in coastal state governments and government contractors, there’s good reason for the overall labor movement to be supportive of a make-work system in which New York uses 25 tunnel-boring machine workers for a job that Spain handles with nine.” That is, the unions that exist push for make-work, and get their way because of the lack of private-sector unions to push back against them. Is this really different from the conservatives’ view?

17 Mark Thorson January 3, 2017 at 6:48 pm

Maybe the difference between New York and Spain is the type of rock. Isn’t New York mostly on granite, hence the ability to build so many skyscrapers? They have sinkholes in Spain, which suggests limestone. Limestone is a lot softer than granite.

18 Mark Thorson January 3, 2017 at 10:56 pm

I checked. NYC sits on granite, marble, and a granite-like rock called schist. These are all very hard rocks. Sinkholes are a big problem in Spain, but it’s because of gypsum, which is even softer than limestone. Without knowing how the same work was determined for 25 vs. 9 tunnel-boring machines — for example, was it by the mile or was it adjusted for the hardness of the rock — this comparison sounds bogus to me. I don’t trust this author.

19 Brian January 3, 2017 at 11:34 pm

With modern boring machine technology, hard rock isn’t much more expensive than soft. You wear out more bits and take more time, but you don’t have to deal with instability, sinkholes, collapse, mud inflow, and flooding as much.

The expense of and delay of construction is concentrated in the stations. OP explains pretty well why NYC construction, and much USA construction, has very expensive stations.

20 Mark Thorson January 4, 2017 at 2:41 am

Maybe changing those bits is causing the higher staffing level. When they have to stop the machine and change bits, more hands means faster turnaround. The face of one of those machines has lots of teeth, widely separated so you could easily have lots of guys working on them in parallel. These machines are not cheap, and every minute they aren’t cutting is a high cost. Maybe having more guys is cheaper than having an idle machine.

Also, the ultimate source for the factoid referenced in the article is a press conference given by the president of construction for the MTA. That’s like getting an informed opinion about global warming from the president of a coal company.

The article doesn’t mention anything about the difference between the geology of NYC and Spain, nor the dubious source of the factoid. This does not inspire confidence in any of the other bricks used to build that edifice.

21 Boonton January 3, 2017 at 1:05 pm

I think he does shed light on the issue. Union workers are more expensive in the US but European work rules almost certainly make it more expensive to hire labor (although perhaps gov’t provided health care offsets part of that). More importantly running a machine with 25 workers rather than 9 is not a huge differential. At least it isn’t going to cause you to spend $1B while another guy spends only $250M unless you’re telling me boring machine workers have a union that gets them a pay scale that exceeds premium NFL players.

He hits the nail I think with governance. The 2nd ave subway is expensive because it’s being done very deep. Why is it so deep? To avoid the hassles that coordinating working around existing infrastructure would cause (I imagine that would be steam and water pipes, utility lines etc.). If NY could more smoothly work with the different agencies and groups that handle these things, it could make the tunnel shallower which would lower the cost as well as save time (it takes longer to descend from the street to a super deep station).

22 JWatts January 3, 2017 at 1:56 pm

“The 2nd ave subway is expensive because it’s being done very deep.”

I agree that this might be part of the problem. However it seems that Subways are more expensive to build in every American city. They aren’t all going that deep. Why can’t American cities build Subways for $250 million per kilometer?

“More importantly running a machine with 25 workers rather than 9 is not a huge differential. ”

I agree that this is only one factor, but a better article would have told us how many workers are employed on average (or better yet the average amount spent on labor) for American subways per kilometer versus European subways per kilometer.

23 FE January 3, 2017 at 1:54 pm

Yes, classic Vox formula: (1) Here is a problem that liberal policies are bad at solving. What a contrarian thing for us to admit, right? (2) But the conservative critique is wrong, so you need not change your world view in any way. (3) ???

One thing Yglesias could have mentioned is environmental impact studies. Just the executive summary is 74 pages, and this is for an uncontroversial below-ground project that won’t disturb any creatures other than rats.

24 Boonton January 3, 2017 at 3:26 pm

What is the conservative critique of a subway in NYC?

Environmental impact studies do seem tedious but even hundreds of pages is pretty small when you’re talking about a billion dollars plus.

I also suspect it isn’t just about disturbing creatures. Do a subway incorrectly and you could end up costing tens of billions of dollars. What would be the cost, for example, if a mile worth of buildings and roads caved in along 2nd ave in Manhatten or if billions of gallons of water were diverted under NYC’s buildings because a major water line ends up destroyed? I suspect any project like this requires a massive amount of report writing but even adding that up does that take you from $250M to $1000M?

25 FE January 3, 2017 at 4:57 pm

True, the environmental report is not much concerned with wildlife. Appendix M, Coastal Zone Consistency, is merely 22 pages of statements such as “As discussed above and in Chapter 15, the project would not cause any significant long-term effects to the aquatic resources of Harlem or the East River.” The whole report runs about 820 pages, not including exhibits and appendices. Maybe Berlin and Paris found some savings there.

26 Bob from Ohio January 3, 2017 at 3:48 pm

How can you discuss a big NYC project without discussing graft and crony capitalism?

27 dearieme January 3, 2017 at 4:46 pm

Plain, ordinary American Exceptionalism.

28 ANdrewL January 3, 2017 at 11:13 pm
29 PD Shaw January 3, 2017 at 12:34 pm

Per Matt: It is the high cost of union labor, but the solution is more private-sector union labor. I guess this makes sense if your priors are always to complain about the loss of private-sector union labor.

30 PD Shaw January 3, 2017 at 12:35 pm

Reply fail. This was supposed to be in reply to JWatts.

31 8 January 3, 2017 at 3:06 pm

Trump would make that trade. Gut the federal workforce and abolish government unions, but increase support for private, Trump voting union members.

32 mulp January 3, 2017 at 4:31 pm

Having gutted unions, which traditionally run the trade schools and apprenticeship programs, industry is now bitching about the lack of skilled workers.

To hire machinists who can do the work, they must pay old guys outrageous wages and put up with their obstinacy. To hire welders, they end up paying high wages, and then pay for lots of rework because the welders do not know how to weld properly. They can’t find plumbers, electricians, etc who can do the work correctly. They can’t find competent carpenters, plasterers, ….

33 SGJ January 3, 2017 at 6:09 pm

Is your suggestion really that the union laborers that the MTA requires contractors hire are being paid market rates? If you believe that, I have a big fat blowup rat to sell you…

34 me January 3, 2017 at 12:35 pm

It would nice if #6 spent a little more time explaining *why* it’s so expensive, and a little less convincing of its word count convincing the reader they should care.

35 Andre January 3, 2017 at 12:52 pm

6. “Planned Parenthood would be stripped of federal funds.”

How do they plan to do this exactly? Planned Parenthood provides regular medical care and gets reimbursed from the federal government when people are covered by Medicaid or other federal programs. Are we going to have a Bills of Attainder refresher too to go along with the Emoluments talks?

President Trumps legacy is going to be updating every 8th grade civics text book for a generation.

36 Art Deco January 3, 2017 at 12:59 pm

How do they plan to do this exactly?

Put a proviso in the law that denies any Medicaid re-imbursements to agencies which perform abortions.

37 Boonton January 3, 2017 at 1:09 pm

Is that even constitutional? Imagine if Medicare passed a rule that said any doctor who donates his income to the Catholic Church will have his reimbursement cut calling that the ‘defund the Church bill’?

Gov’t is not ‘funding Planned Parenthood’. Planned Parenthood has clinics that provide medical services and Medicare/Medicaid pay for medical services (not abortions but other ones). If they make money doing that then the gov’t has no business telling anyone what they do with what is essentially payment for services rendered. You can’t say you are going to pay for, say, breast cancer screenings, but only if the doctor agrees with your ideology on abortion.

38 Rock Lobster January 3, 2017 at 1:29 pm

That also seems like something that would be pretty easy to work around by just spinning off the abortion provision into a shell, I mean, sister charity. It could even be on-site depending on how stringent the provision is.

39 8 January 3, 2017 at 3:11 pm

It depends on what exactly they’re getting funding for. If it’s some nebulous government programs doling out cash under the banner of “contraception” or “education” then no. If the Catholic Church receives X times the funding level of Planned Parenthood, given that it has way more members, lots of poor members, and many hospitals, then I suppose nothing suspicious is going on. If the Catholic Church doesn’t receive similar funding, then hmmm.

40 Boonton January 3, 2017 at 3:32 pm

I think it’s pretty simple fee for service. If you’re a doctor you can accept Medicaid and Medicare you bill those services for the things you do and get reimbursed at the rates they offer, just like for any other type of insurance. We aren’t talking about some type of block grant for ‘contraception education’.

Look at it this way, insurance pays for mammograms but usually not boob jobs. A doctor may do boob jobs for cash paying patients but bill insurance for mammograms. It doesn’t follow, though, that the plastic surgery industry is being ‘funded’ by mammograms. A doctor who does a mammogram doesn’t get paid any more because he also does plastic surgery on the side versus one who doesn’t.

So ‘defund planned parenthood’ essentially means doctors don’t get paid unless they agree with Republican ideology on pro-lifism.

41 Bob from Ohio January 3, 2017 at 3:39 pm

“plastic surgery on the side”

Plastic surgery is not like being a Uber driver you know.

Nobody does both mammograms and plastic surgery either.

Fun fact, Planned Parenthood does not do mammograms either.

42 Boonton January 3, 2017 at 4:43 pm

Healthcare billing is complicated in its details but simple for purposes of this discussion. A provider does a procedure, they issue a bill to the payer. In that bill they provide a code that indicates what the procedure is. The payer then reimburses the provider based on the guidelines.

If Planned Parenthood doesn’t do mammograms, then they can’t bill for them. If they don’t bill, they don’t get paid therefore there’s nothing to ‘defund’. If they bill but don’t do them then that’s fraud. Since the federal gov’t doesn’t reimburse for abortions Planned Parenthood cannot bill for them but then can bill for things that they are.

I have no idea whether or not PP does mammograms. I know in NJ they don’t do abortions but at the end of the day I’m not hearing any actual defense of the Republicans here. If PP does anything that is reimbursable for Medicaid or Medicare then they should get paid just as any other provider would. The Federal gov’t has no right to declare PP is excluded because they don’t buy into right wing ideology on abortion anymore than doctors who are pro-life and give some of their earnings to pro-life activities should be excluded from Medicare or Medicaid.

43 Art Deco January 3, 2017 at 10:29 pm

Is that even constitutional? I

Yes, Boonton, refusing to fund abortion providers is constitutional. Wm. Brennan’s gambit to declare it otherwise back in 1977 garnered only three votes from sitting justices and a fourth vote from the stuffed effigy of Thurgood Marshall.

44 Boonton January 4, 2017 at 8:40 am

“Fund abortion providers” in the context of the case you’re talking about = “fund abortion providers for providing abortions”.

This is “abortion providers who do other things shouldn’t get paid for doing other things because they also do abortions” or even worse “we won’t pay doctors who do things other than abortions because those doctors support abortion rights”. Not Constitutional IMO and not anymore right than saying Medicare will refuse to reimburse doctors who treat patients if those doctors are supporters of pro-life groups.

45 albatross January 9, 2017 at 4:08 pm

As a parallel case, imagine a bill that says that any provider who offers gay reparative therapy (therapy to help gay people go straight) won’t be re-embursed for other services. So a therapist who offers both regular counseling and counseling to help you stop being gay (or stop acting on it, or whatever) can’t get re-embursed for either one.

I don’t know whether that would have constitutional issues, but it seems to me that it would have the same constitutional issues as a parallel bill forbidding re-embursements to any provider who does abortions.

46 Andre January 3, 2017 at 1:19 pm

But that should affect a massive number of hospitals as well, no?

47 anon January 3, 2017 at 1:37 pm

They can call out Planned Parenthood by name, and then suffer the lawsuit. Enjoy the lawsuit? How many justices, how much rule of law …

48 PD Shaw January 3, 2017 at 1:46 pm

The feds defunded ACORN back in 2009 by name. The defunding was upheld against Bills of Attainder arguments by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, so I assume they would pass legislation along those lines.


49 JWatts January 3, 2017 at 2:06 pm

“6. “Planned Parenthood would be stripped of federal funds.””

LOL, this was in a Vox article ostensibly about the funding of American subway construction. Vox, reliably throwing Red Meat to its Leftwing base since 2011.

50 Michael January 3, 2017 at 3:21 pm

“Planned Parenthood provides regular medical care”

LOL, no, not really.

51 Boonton January 3, 2017 at 3:32 pm

Then they can’t bill Medicaid or Medicare. So what’s the issue?

52 Bob from Ohio January 3, 2017 at 3:33 pm

A Bill of Attainder is convicting and punishing people for crimes without trial by legislative act.

It has nothing to do with future government funding.

The problem with liberals is they have a kindergarten level of constitutional and statutory [trillion dollar platinum coins, confirming Garland between Senate sessions] knowledge. 8th grade, I wish.

53 Boonton January 4, 2017 at 10:34 am

The problem here is the myth that there’s some actual government funding of Planned Parenthood. If there was, Congress could kill it.

What Congress has done is say no federal funds will be used for abortions….that’s done so Medicaid/Medicare won’t pay for abortions. But it does pay for other medical procedures that are done by health care providers.

What Congress cannot do is say health care providers who do abortions or who simply disagree with pro-life ideology (i.e. PP), cannot get reimbursed for performing non-abortion procedures on Medicaid/Medicare patients.

BTW Trillion dollar coins would have been perfectly Constitutional…although if I was president I would simply declare the debt ceiling void. Congress approves taxing, Congress approves spending, I would argue borrowing the difference is an implied power of the Executive and there’s no reference in the Constitution to a secondary check Congress has via ‘debt ceilings’. If the two come into conflict the powers actually articulated in the text win over the ones not.

54 Draco Malfoy January 4, 2017 at 8:37 pm

You would be wrong again. Borrowing money is one of the enumerated powers of congress.

55 Boonton January 5, 2017 at 2:36 pm

The trillion dollar coin concerns not borrowing money but the management of the gov’ts debt. Coining money is, likewise, also a power of Congress but presumably they’ve left the Executive a free hand in managing the circulating currency and value assigned to it.

The Executive has an implied power to sort out conflicting mandates from Congress in the least destructive manner possible. If Congress passes a law specifically articulating that the budget is secondary to the debt ceiling (which also means it should specify which spending cuts or tax increases are implemented if the ceiling is hit), then that’s what we should follow but absent that the President should ignore the debt ceiling and follow the spending and taxing laws Congress passed.

56 Art Deco January 3, 2017 at 12:55 pm

#2: Replace the fence with a cement wall topped with razor wire and guard towers manned by soldiers with live ammo. They’ll get the message. Neither Morocco nor Africans making use of Morocco as a transit station have a franchise to destroy Ceuta and Melilla as communities.

57 JWatts January 3, 2017 at 2:07 pm

Why? The fence worked as intended. You’ll note that the illegals were all turned back. There’s no need to react with excessive violence when the current system is working.

58 Stanley January 3, 2017 at 3:25 pm

Concrete walls and razor wire is excessive violence?

59 JWatts January 3, 2017 at 3:58 pm

I was thinking more about the: “and guard towers manned by soldiers with live ammo. ”

Either the soldiers will shoot and it’s excessive violence. Or they have orders not to, in which case it becomes expensive security theater.

60 Careless January 3, 2017 at 9:26 pm

If they’re losing eyes, I think they’ll be willing to shoot.

61 Art Deco January 3, 2017 at 10:21 pm

Either the soldiers will shoot and it’s excessive violence.

You mean enforcement is excessive violence. Kinda figured that’s where you’d come down.

62 Dude Man January 3, 2017 at 11:48 pm

Enforcing laws disproportionately harsh for the original crime can become excessive violence. If we enforced speeding laws by cutting off drivers’ heads for driving 5 mph over the speed limit, that would be excessive violence.

63 JWatts January 4, 2017 at 3:59 pm

“You mean enforcement is excessive violence. Kinda figured that’s where you’d come down.”

No, I mean the current system in Ceuta seems to be working (it’s far better enforcement than the US has along the southern border) and ramping it up with “guard towers manned by soldiers with live ammo.” would almost certainly make things worse.

64 Thiago Ribeiro January 3, 2017 at 1:00 pm

As Mr. Khruschev pointed out in the 1950s, Americans love their cars and fridges and hula-hoops, but they do not love their country as such. Brazil was able to complete almost all the public works it planned to host a World Cup AND the Olympic Games because Brazilians love Brazil. As Admiral Barroso said before one of the fiercest naval battles of the Paraguayan campaign and of ll History, “The Empire of Brazil expects every Brazilian will fulfill its duty”.

65 JWatts January 3, 2017 at 2:08 pm

“As Mr. Khruschev pointed out in the 1950s, Americans love their cars and fridges and hula-hoops, but they do not love their country as such.”

Hmmm, how did that work out for the Soviet Union again?

66 Cooper January 3, 2017 at 2:45 pm

If I recall correctly, East Germans loved their country so much they climbed over razor wire topped fences to escape it.

67 Thiago Ribeiro January 3, 2017 at 6:29 pm

It is different. East German was a puppet state. Brazil is faded to be a super power, according the teachings of Prophet Bandarra.

68 JWatts January 3, 2017 at 9:12 pm

Brazil is a faded super power? Sure, if you say so.

69 Thiago Ribeiro January 4, 2017 at 2:57 am

Fated! Those keys are so tiny.

70 Tenhofaca January 3, 2017 at 3:05 pm

Ame o ou deixa o.

71 Thiago Ribeiro January 3, 2017 at 6:24 pm

Ame-o ou deixe-o. The two verbs are from the same family, they must have the same termination if they are about the same person.

72 Tenhofaca January 3, 2017 at 9:37 pm

Not my first language. Aprendi a lingua falando na rua. Prefer the English verb terseness.

73 Tenhofaca January 3, 2017 at 9:44 pm

Also, I meant the familiar imperative for deixar. “You can love it, or thou mayest leave it”.

74 Thiago Ribeiro January 4, 2017 at 2:58 am

The verbs must have the same terminations in the imperative. Either “ama/deixa” or “ame/deixe”.

75 Bob from Ohio January 3, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Khruschev was an idiot.

How did the Brazilians fare in 1891 against the US? Not as well as against Paraguay.

76 msgkings January 3, 2017 at 4:34 pm

Careful, Bob, Thiago gets very upset when reminded of Brazil’s ignominious defeat at the hands of Benjy’s Boys in 1891. I suspect that’s why he’s on this blog in every thread saying bad things about the US. And for what? It was so long ago….

77 Thiago Ribeiro January 3, 2017 at 6:27 pm

You lie, boy. There was no such a war.

78 msgkings January 3, 2017 at 10:30 pm

Once again, I sympathize with your embarrassment but we are too smart at this blog to fall for your lies.

79 Thiago Ribeiro January 4, 2017 at 2:59 am

I say it is a lie. No such war is recorded.

80 msgkings January 4, 2017 at 12:20 pm

In Brazil they erased it from the history books out of shame. Every school teaches it in other parts of the world. Mainly in North America, obviously, it was a very minor conflict from the point of view of the world, but Brazilians just can’t get over it.

81 Thiago Ribeiro January 4, 2017 at 5:08 pm

It is not true. I am well-versed in Brazilian 19 th Century wars.

82 msgkings January 4, 2017 at 5:23 pm

You only know what your Brazilian masters let you know. In the more enlightened First World, the Great Southern War of 1891 is fairly well known.

83 Thiago Ribeiro January 4, 2017 at 8:19 pm

It is a ridiculous lie. Americans can’t win their real wars, so they invent fake ones!

84 msgkings January 3, 2017 at 4:35 pm

Also, how does one have a naval battle with a landlocked country like Paraguay?

85 Thiago Ribeiro January 3, 2017 at 5:32 pm

It was a mighty river battle, the biggerst in recorded human history.

86 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly January 3, 2017 at 6:02 pm

Brazil was able to complete almost all the public works it planned to host a World Cup AND the Olympic Games

(emphasis added)

Yes, so impressive for a country to shoddily throw together some ramshackle infrastructure rather than just have sufficient infrastructure in the first place, contra U.S.A 1994.

87 Thiago Ribeiro January 3, 2017 at 6:27 pm

1) American football stadiums for soccer games… I still remember that pathetic grass.
2) All public works will be completed until 2020.
3) Brazil built the best and most modern soccer fields mankind has ever seen even in places they will never be used again. No efforts were spared.

88 Gary Leff January 3, 2017 at 1:17 pm

#6 Yglesias heaps praise on Los Angeles for “delivering lower-than-normal costs for the United States” while LAX airport moves forward with on-airport rail that is budgeted to cost $1 billion per mile ABOVE GROUND.

89 Boonton January 3, 2017 at 1:22 pm

Above ground rail needs land, in Los Angeles most of the land is already owned by someone and has stuff on it. Underground rail doesn’t have to care who owns the surface, just avoid messing anything up above it.

How much would the airport cost per mile if you removed land acquisition costs from the budget?

90 prior_test2 January 3, 2017 at 1:51 pm

‘Above ground rail needs land’

Sure, which is why German Strassenbahnen (not to mention trams in many other European countries) run in the street, just another part of the traffic mix. And yes, stops do take a bit more space, but it is not exactly that much of a challenge.

91 Boonton January 3, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Who got the land first? Did the gov’t build the Strassenbahnen after WWII when everything was essentially destroyed or did the cities rebuild first and the gov’t then had to acquire the land to expand the streets to accommodate them? How does Germany’s legal system handle the gov’t forcing property owners to surrender their rights for these types of projects?

92 Careless January 3, 2017 at 4:47 pm

He said “on airport rail” which presumably means they already owned it

93 jim jones January 3, 2017 at 1:37 pm
94 Heorogar January 3, 2017 at 1:47 pm

#6 – Approximately 14 million New Yorkers will not benefit from the new subway spur.

This morning Gov. Cuomo (of HUD real estate bubble fame) explained why on NYC TV the subway was so important: because it proved that the government could do it “on time” (planning began 100 years ago) and within (astronomical) budget.

Let’s get this straight. At Europe’s economical $250 million a kilometer – that’s $250,000 a meter which is not much different than a US yard.

The article is useless. The only reason I scanned it was to ensure that the writer didn’t expend words/column space on financial or “appraisal” analysis.

As always Yglesias’ is a complete waste of time. Why-Glessiass is neither an account or an economist. If he were, he would analyze/compare the various expense components of the US and foreign examples’ costs/expenses and see wherein the higher costs arise.

Bottom line. The US subways, bridges, highways, etc.cost that much because governments and surrogates/GSE’s (MTA) appropriate the money.

95 Boonton January 3, 2017 at 3:43 pm

” Approximately 14 million New Yorkers will not benefit from the new subway spur”

What does this statement mean? NY State’s population is about 19M people so is this saying 5M people will use the new subway spur? That’s a lot of people…nearly one out of four people in the state of NY will ride this particular spur at least once a year! Wow.

96 Heorogar January 3, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Thanks for correcting me. I wrote the 14 million thinking NY population was not as high as 19 million. I meant that NY rulers spent $1 billion of taxpayers’ money for a boondoggle that only benefits a portion of we the people of New York.

Certainly I could be wrong. I doubt that this project will have a similarly salutary impact on 21st century New York as did the “digging” of the Erie Canal (“Clinton’s Folly”) in the 19th century.

I’m a life-long New Yorker who spent nearly 50 years commuting on buses, commuter rails, and subways. This $1 billion project will slightly ease crowding on the IRT east side lines (4,5,6) as riders from 96th Street and those that can walk/bus will not crowd on those lines until they all gather at Grand Central Sta./42nd St. where the crowding will be unabated.

The main benefits accrue to which politicians’ money bags received massive-money contracts related to the on-budget, on-time Second Avenue boondoggle. Also, the project gives il duce Cuomo something about which to crow albeit on the taxpayers’ dime.

Once upon a time, say during the Roman Republic or early in the USA, there was “republic” which word is derived from the Latin, “res publica,” the public thing. Ideally, government activity benefits all the people, not some of the people. This boondoggle does not benefit all the people of New York but all taxpayers will pay for it.

97 Boonton January 3, 2017 at 7:06 pm

OK but from what I’m seeing about 48K people used the line the first day it opened. Let’s say that settles down to 40K per day, that’s 14.6M rides per year and let’s say the line will easily last 10 years before it needs major refurbishment so that’s 146M rides. @ $1B that works out to $6.84 in cost per ride. Of course ten years is pretty artificial. The Lincoln and Holland tunnels were built over a century ago. Unless teleporters are invented or rising sea water swamps NYC, the line will probably be shuttling people back and forth when Angelina Jolie’s children are in nursing homes. I think it would be great to figure out how to bring the cost down from $1B to $700M or even $500M but even if that’s just not going to ever be possible in NYC, NY is better off for having done this than not.

98 carlospln January 3, 2017 at 9:37 pm
99 Boonton January 4, 2017 at 6:06 am

Good points however I’m not seeing how they apply to this project. I also quibble a bit with their definition of productive debt. 50K rides per day benefits the individual riders buying metro cards but it also has spillover benefits to the rest of the city in reduced traffic, better mobility etc. A single ride on NYC’s metro is $2.75, about 40% of the $6.84 cost per ride (actually $6.84 is probably inflated, you should probably use 20 years rather than 10 in which case it is nearly 80%). Of course that gets harder to calculate these days because riders can buy day and month passes with unlimited rides making the revenue calculation harder.

I’m not convinced that NYC needs more maintenance of existing capacity rather than more capacity.

100 MattyDin January 4, 2017 at 10:42 am

A few more numbers on the value:
streeteasy did some analysis that indicates reducing commute time to midtown by 1 minute increases an apartment’s value by $22K. There are about 50K housing units in the immediately affected areas, each now saving ~13 minutes on their commute. Multiply it out and you get close to $15B in value created from Phase 1, so that adds a 3x ROI before accounting for the revenue generated on the subway.
Given the spillover affects in cities, it’s likely this value is accretive to other parts of the city rather than a transfer, but I suppose that’s open to debate.

Why don’t we pay for these things via property taxes?

101 msgkings January 4, 2017 at 12:27 pm

“This boondoggle does not benefit all the people of New York but all taxpayers will pay for it.”: with a standard like this there’s almost nothing that can be paid for with taxes. Every road, every bridge, every school, they all benefit some people and not others. Maybe that’s your point, the anarchist one of ‘taxes = theft’, in which case you can be dismissed as a childish crank.

102 chuck martel January 3, 2017 at 4:02 pm

Reading the Yglesias article actually makes one less knowledgeable about the subject than someone whom has never heard about the project.

103 cthulhu January 3, 2017 at 6:19 pm

That’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

104 Will Barrett January 4, 2017 at 10:18 am

Funny. I wish there was a “like” button on this comments section.

105 Jack January 3, 2017 at 2:51 pm

NYC is a very poorly governed municipality for obvious reasons. The rich pay most of the bills but opt out of the services — public transport, education, hospitals, housing. They seem content to pay 12% of their income to the city and state in order to enjoy high salaries generally tied to the finance industry, first rate restaurants, museums and the buzz that you won’t find elsewhere in the US. So the people who pay the bills don’t seem to really care that the municipality is at best incompetent and often corrupt because they don’t partake in much that the municipality offers and given their numbers it is unlikely they could accomplish much anyway. The municipal government seems a lot more interested in global warming or picking fights with the President elect than running a tight ship. The majority of the electorate is a recipient of tax dollars through outlandish union contracts and low quality public freebies so who are they to complain if the municipal projects are way over budget?

106 Thomas January 3, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Lets hope Europe are lucky enough to have some of those extremely violent africans as refugees. That can only turn out well, as all economist can tell you.

Remember, they are refugees. Someone is trying to murder them all over africa – only in europe can they be safe.Through story. And by pure luck, europe also offers a lot better life – but thats not why they are “refugees”.

107 michael January 3, 2017 at 3:17 pm

#4 — when moving long pieces of furniture I tend to tip them straight up toward the ceiling. The Douglas Adams quotation that kicked off the investigation is funny, but in the book the sofa gets wedged in a staircase landing, not a hall-corner. I think their algorithm needs to move to the next dimension (3rd).

108 Craig Loehle January 3, 2017 at 4:41 pm

Correct. The effect of lifting the end of the couch up is to make it shorter. If the ceiling is high enough (relative to couch length), it becomes so short that only the width and breadth matter for going around the corner (it becomes like the first example).

109 A Black Man January 3, 2017 at 3:57 pm

#1: “Although individuals in the highest cognitive ability group had significantly lower odds of experiencing vaginal intercourse than those in the average ability group, this association did not remain significant when analyses were stratified by biological sex.”

In other words, men dominated the highest cognitive ability group.

110 too hot for MR January 3, 2017 at 7:44 pm

If academics could speak honestly and clearly, we’d avoid the entire sort of misunderstanding that is the first cluster of comments.

111 Benny Lava January 3, 2017 at 7:50 pm

6. While it is true that Conservatives often blame unions for high construction costs, they also often blame environmental regulations. Would have been nice if Matt examined it. Also I read somewhere that the cost per track mile of the new subway is not only higher than in Europe but higher than the original subway lines 117 years ago. Perhaps Cost disease?

112 Ricardo January 4, 2017 at 1:55 am

“but higher than the original subway lines 117 years ago.”

I believe the original lines were cut and cover. The Second Avenue Subway, like much of London’s Tube system, was excavated deep below ground level using tunnel boring machines, which is obviously much more expensive but also less disruptive to the communities through which the lines run.

113 Ivy January 4, 2017 at 10:35 am

One useful comparison may be to look at the cost per mile of the new London CrossRail line. That project is over 26 miles of new lines with 10 new stations (out of 40 having CrossRail connections) at total project cost of 14.8B pounds (so $18.17B at today’s Bloomberg rate, although that exchange rate has moved down quite a bit over the past year, thus inter-currency project cost comparisons are not that precise on long-term projects, just for brief comparison).
14,800,000,000 / 26 = 569M per mile
14,800,000,000 / 10 = 1.48B per station


Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: