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Gennady Stolyarov II Presents at the “Meet the Candidates” Night of the Indian Hills General Improvement District

Gennady Stolyarov II Presents at the “Meet the Candidates” Night of the Indian Hills General Improvement District

Gennady Stolyarov II


The video recording of Gennady Stolyarov II’s presentation at the “Meet the Candidates” Night (October 17, 2018) at the Indian Hills General Improvement District has been posted here.

Mr. Stolyarov’s candidacy has previously been unanimously endorsed by a vote of the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s members.

There is some technical flaw with the audio around 8:52 – the time that Mr. Stolyarov discusses protecting homeowners’ property rights and opposing the establishment of a homeowners’ association. You will hear several parts of these remarks simultaneously – but you will likely still be able to discern Mr. Stolyarov’s position. About a minute afterward, the proper linear audio stream resumes.

After completing his presentation, Mr. Stolyarov issued the following written statement:

I am pleased with the outcome of “Meet the Candidates” Night at the Indian Hills General Improvement District this evening. The seats were nearly all filled, and approximately 25 residents appeared in person. All candidates’ responses were recorded and will be posted on YouTube in the coming days. I will provide links as soon as I become aware of them.

I was able to use the allotted time to present my intended messages regarding my qualifications and my priorities of maintaining essential infrastructure, promoting growth, supporting technological and factually, rationally grounded solutions, and being attentive to all residents and representing the District as a whole in a nonpartisan manner. The statements and questions were thoughtful and generated a civil, meaningful discussion about events in the District. This is what political activity should be about – not factionalism, tribalism, or blind partisanship.

Many residents and the other candidates appeared to be sympathetic to my approach and positions – and my hope is that this will enable them to recognize me as a good consensus candidate who can draw support from all constituencies in the District. I stated at the event that I would be honored to work with any of the other candidates if they are elected to the Board alongside me.

Whether my objective of not being last in the vote count can be met remains to be seen; this election will probably surprise everyone. However, this event most definitely helped – and I hope the videos will help as well.

Early voting in Douglas County begins this Saturday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Courthouse in Minden. I have been conducting research on the ballot questions and candidates in the contested races for several hours per day; now I am close to finalizing my own preferences.

Please inform any of your acquaintances who reside in the Indian Hills GID about me and my candidacy!

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free, no matter where you reside. Fill out our free Membership Application Form here. It takes less than a minute!

What the Atlanta Highway Collapse Signals about American Infrastructure – Article by Lili Carneglia

What the Atlanta Highway Collapse Signals about American Infrastructure – Article by Lili Carneglia

The New Renaissance Hat
Lili Carneglia
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Atlanta is already known for having some of the worst traffic in the world, and the recent collapse along a major interstate will only make congestion worse. On March 30, in the middle of rush hour traffic, a fire began under the I-85 Northbound that quickly erupted into a massive blaze, eventually causing a section of the bridge to collapse.

Less than 24 hours later, with the rubble still smoldering, the US Department of Transportation announced a $10 million award to begin emergency repairs. Despite the quick response from the DOT, it will take millions more dollars before I-85 can resume carrying 400,000 vehicles daily.

With the nation’s Highway Trust Fund rapidly approaching insolvency, the I-85 collapse and the subsequent Atlanta traffic chaos exemplify the overwhelming cost and inefficiency of public infrastructure in America.

Why So Expensive?

In the United States, transit projects are chronically expensive and time-consuming. The country’s outdated method of allowing most highways to fall under federal care, and cumbersome regulatory obstacles, is part of the reason that we continue to lag behind when it comes to international standards. Regulatory burdens also contribute to other countries’ outranking the US when it comes to securing construction permits, making new projects and maintenance even more complicated.

Policy relics of the Obama administration weigh particularly heavy on this type of progress. Specifically, Executive Order 13502, which encourages labor agreements for federal construction projects. Because these agreements require union labor, this E.O. severely limits the number of firms that can accept a federal contract, since only 13.9 percent of the construction workforce is unionized. Additionally, many researchers have found that this practice is estimated to increase the costs of projects anywhere from 13-18 percent.

As the small fraction of construction firms that benefit from this order continue to lobby for similar policies that land them more federal projects at the expense of taxpayers and industry innovation, we can expect the cost of infrastructure projects to continuously rise.

This issue is nothing new, with politicians from both sides of the aisle eager to point fingers and  offer their own solutions. President Trump is no exception. He has made a repeated pledge to invest $1 trillion in the nation’s infrastructure. While the Trump administration has announced that those plans will be revealed later in the year, the details, including the amount of federal funding available for the project, remain a mystery. In part due to this opacity, most people remain skeptical of promises, released alongside a proposed budget, that would cut DOT spending by 13 percent.

However, even if the Trump administration were to pump $1 trillion of pure federal funds into infrastructure projects, it would do little to fix the country’s severely broken system. The best chance of improving America’s infrastructure lies in removing the red tape standing in the way of private firms when it comes to federal projects – or better yet, ending the government monopoly on transit altogether.

Corporate Welfare

One of the most promising international trends in infrastructure development involves moving away from public transportation and towards private transit systems. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that in many countries, private investment in infrastructure is on the rise as government investment declines due to “constraints on public finance and recognized limitations on the public sector’s effectiveness in managing projects.” The US should take note of the global trend.

Transitioning to privatization is quickly becoming a necessity in the face of rapidly-expanding maintenance costs and Trump budget cuts. Even without the option of public funding, privatization offers massive benefits for taxpayers.

Some of the biggest users of public roads, like logistics companies, create billions more dollars in transportation expenses than the average car-owner. However, road costs are passed on to taxpayers en masse, subsidizing companies that use public roads the most. The current system effectively results in corporate welfare. Private toll roads help mitigate the unfair cost burden and appropriately account for maintenance.

American infrastructure is on the brink of complete disaster. While the I-85 collapse was an unpredictable event, prior to last month, the road was not even listed among the 56,000 structurally deficient bridges in the country. Infrastructure expenses will continue to drain federal and state budgets until public funds can no longer keep up. Sudden highway collapses are a disquieting reminder of what is at stake if we fail to change the way the US approaches transportation.

Lili Carneglia is a student at the University of Alabama where she is getting a joint bachelor’s and master’s degree in Economics. She is a Young Voices advocate.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Progress: Creation and Maintenance (2010) – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Progress: Creation and Maintenance (2010) – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
Originally Published March 8, 2010
as Part of Issue CCXXXVIII of The Rational Argumentator
Republished July 22, 2014
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Note from the Author: This essay was originally published as part of Issue CCXXXVIII of The Rational Argumentator on March 8, 2010, using the Yahoo! Voices publishing platform. Because of the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices, the essay is now being made directly available on The Rational Argumentator.
~ G. Stolyarov II, July 22, 2014
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The audio version of this essay is read by Wendy Stolyarov. You can also download this audio essay as an MP3 file here. 

One frequently encounters the identification of human creativity and inventiveness as driving forces for progress in technology and society. In part, this identification is correct: it is through the human creative faculty – the ability to bring forth new combinations of matter and new ideas – that improvements to the human condition arise. But while creation is a necessary component to progress, it is not a sufficient component.

Consider that the human creative faculty has existed since the emergence of our species; even cave dwellers exhibited it, to the extent that they could take even a little leisure time in their highly dangerous, subsistence-based lives. Cave paintings and tools from several tens of thousands of years ago show clearly that our remote ancestors had the ability, and the desire, to reshape the world in an attempt to improve their condition. And yet, for the vast majority of human history – up until the 18th-century Enlightenment and the subsequent Industrial Revolution – real progress has been so slow and minuscule as to be virtually imperceptible within an ordinary person’s lifetime. This was the case despite the fact that every generation had its share of great thinkers, artists, and even mechanical tinkerers.

The other necessary component of progress is maintenance of what has already been created. While creation is an ever-present ability within human beings, there are also destructive forces that counteract and diminish its fruits. Nature itself is the source of many such forces: disease, decay, and death are omnipresent unless counteracted by arduous and continual human effort. Just as billions of lives have been lost in complete oblivion to the ravages of “natural causes” – from catastrophic disasters to senescence – so have innumerable works of art, architecture, literature, and technology been lost to these perils. Consider that even the extant works of great known philosophers such as Aristotle or composers such as Georg Philipp Telemann are a fraction of what these great men of the past are known to have created, but which was buried by the sands of time. Imagine, also, what the pitifully short lifespans throughout most human history did to diminish the output of creative geniuses, who, in better times, might have continued to innovate for decades more.

Maintenance is the ability to preserve and transmit existing knowledge, techniques, and objects. It can be performed through sheer effort of will – but only to a point. A European monk or an Arabic scholar in the Middle Ages could spend a lifetime meticulously copying by hand a single book from centuries before his time, only to have it vandalized by one of his successors some generations hence. Even the work of Archimedes was subjected to such savage mistreatment.

Since the Industrial Revolution, and especially since the Information Revolution, the techniques for the preservation of physical goods and knowledge have become tremendously more reliable than was possible in premodern societies. The ability to make multiple copies of an object and potentially inexhaustible copies of an idea – and to maintain detailed visual, textual, and auditory records of particular times, places, and activities, with little effort by historical standards, has preserved many of the accomplishments of prior and current thinkers for the creative faculties of humans to expand upon.

It is doubtful that we, in our time, are inherently more creative than our ancestors. But we do have a much more diverse and advanced subject matter to which to apply our creativity. Where we are free to do so, we may arrange these building blocks of innovation in much the same way that our ancestors arranged sticks and stones – except that the consequences of our actions are much more powerful, life-enhancing, and durable. Our infrastructure and our methods for maintaining and transmitting knowledge separate us from our ancestors to the extent that, to them, we would be as gods.

And yet, none of the wonders that enable progress in our time are ever guaranteed to continue, though not due to inanimate nature and lower life forms alone; those have always been in a steady retreat wherever human reason and productivity were unleashed at anywhere near their fullest extent. But the folly, ignorance, sloth, and envy of other men can all too easily slow the growth of progress-nourishing infrastructure to a crawl, or even reverse it and usher in a new Dark Ages. Coercive policies, economic misconduct and capital consumption, massive wars, widespread prohibitions on peaceful and productive activities, superstitions and irrational taboos, pervasive and disproportionate fears – as embodied in the environmentalists’ progress-killing “precautionary principle” – and a desire for “security” over liberty, for “tradition” over growth, and for stasis over innovation, are all forces that counteract and threaten the maintenance of our civilization. In most times and places, only a handful of people have been immune to deleterious anti-progressive beliefs and their consequences, but there is no reason why we cannot all rise above such anti-life thinking. We all have the creative faculty in us, and we can all think.

The importance of maintenance to human progress can be carried into the life of the individual with profound consequences that can produce massive personal growth and productivity via a change of habits. A mere creation of reproducible records of one’s past achievements – and their publication on the Internet, where possible – can create a formidable store of knowledge to which the creator and others can refer and which they can build upon. The concepts of open-source software and distributed computing, for instance, are built on this elementary principle, but it can be applied to so many more areas of life. The creative faculty is with us every day, and every day it produces original ideas and methods for improving our lives. But, without adequate maintenance – including the establishment of a concrete form for these innovations – these gifts from within our minds will fade away into insignificance, much like the ruins of antiquity. Developing an improved infrastructure for the products of one’s own mind may be the first step toward revitalizing the infrastructure of civilization itself.

Click here to read more articles in Issue CCXXXVIII of The Rational Argumentator.

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Economies are Not Destroyed in a Day – Article by Nicolás Cachanosky

Economies are Not Destroyed in a Day – Article by Nicolás Cachanosky

The New Renaissance Hat
Nicolás Cachanosky
October 26, 2013
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Earlier this month, Argentina’s leading conservative paper, La Nación published an unsigned editorial comparing the economies of Argentina and Venezuela. The editorial concluded that as economic freedom declines in Argentina, and as Argentina adopts more of what Chavez called “twenty-first century socialism,” it is becoming increasingly similar to Venezuela. Is this true? Will Argentina suffer the same fate as Venezuela where poverty is increasing and toilet paper can be a luxury?

The similarities of regulations and economic problems facing both countries are indeed striking in spite of obvious differences in the two countries. Yet, when people are confronted with the similarities, it is common to hear replies like “but Argentina is not Venezuela, we have more infrastructure and resources.”

Institutional changes, however, define the long-run destiny of a country, not its short-run prosperity.

Imagine that Cuba and North Korea became, overnight, the two most free-market, limited-government countries in the world. The two countries would have immediately gained civil liberties and economic freedom, but they would still have to accumulate wealth and to develop their economies. The institutional change affects the political situation immediately, but a new economy requires time to take shape. For example, as China opened parts of its economy to international markets, the country started to grow, and we are now seeing the effects of decades of relative economic liberalization. It is true that many areas in China continue to lack significant freedoms, but it would be a much different China today had it refused to change its institutions decades ago.

The same occurs if one of the wealthiest and developed countries in the world were to adopt Cuban or North Korean institutions overnight. The wealth and capital does not vanish in 24 hours. The country would shift from capital accumulation to capital consumption and it might take years or even decades to drain the coffers of previous accumulated wealth. In the meantime, the government has the resources to play the game of Bolivarian (i.e., Venezuelan) populist socialism and enjoy the wealth, highways, electrical infrastructure, and communication networks that were the result of the more free-market institutional realities of the past.

Eventually, though, highways start to deteriorate from the lack of maintenance (or trains crash in the station killing dozens of passengers), the energy sector starts to waver, energy imports become unavoidable, and the communication network becomes obsolete. In other words, economic populism is financed with resources accumulated by non-populist institutions.

According to the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World project, Argentina ranked 34th-best in the year 2000. By 2011, however, Argentina fell to 137, next to countries like Ecuador, Mali, China, Nepal, Gabon, and Mozambique. There is no doubt that Argentina enjoys a higher rate of development and wealth than those other countries. But, can we still be sure that this will be the situation 20 or 30 years from now? The Argentinean president is known for having said that she would like Argentina to be a country like Germany, but the path to becoming like Switzerland or Germany involves adopting Swiss and German-type institutions, which Argentina is not doing.

The adoption of Venezuelan institutions in Argentina, came along with high growth rates. These growth rates, however, are misleading:

First, economic growth, properly speaking, is not an increase in “production,” but an increase in “production capacity.” The growth in observed GDP after a big crisis is economic recovery, not economic growth properly understood.

Second, you can increase your production capacity by investing in the wrong economic activities. Heavy price regulation, as takes place in Argentina (now accompanied by high rates of inflation), misdirects resource allocation by affecting relative prices. We might be able to see and even touch the new investment, but such capital is the result of a monetary illusion. The economic concept of capital does not depend on the tangibility or size of the investment (i.e, on its physical properties), but on its economic value. When the time comes for relative prices to adjust to reflect real consumer preferences, and the market value of capital goods drops, capital is consumed or destroyed in economic terms even if the physical qualities of capital goods remains unchanged.

Third, production can increase not because investment increases, but because people are consuming invested capital, as is the case when there is an increase in the rate that machinery and infrastructure wear out.

I’m not saying that there is no genuine growth in Argentina, but it remains a fact that a nontrivial share of the Argentinean GDP growth can be explained by: (1) recovery, (2) misdirection of investment, and (3) capital consumption. If that weren’t the case, employment creation wouldn’t have stagnated and the country’s infrastructure should be shining rather than falling into pieces.

Most economists and policy analysts seem to have a superficial reading of economic variables. If an economy is healthy, then economic variables look good, GDP grows, and inflation is low. But the fact that we observe good economic indicators does not imply that the economy is healthy. There’s a reason why a doctor asks for tests from a patient that appears well. Feeling well doesn’t mean there might not be a disease that shows no obvious symptoms at the moment. The economist who refuses to have a closer look and see why GDP grows is like a doctor who refuses to have a closer look at his patient. The Argentinian patient has caught the Bolivarian disease, but the most painful symptoms have yet to surface.

NOTE: This is a translated and expanded version of an original piece published in Economía Para Todos (Economics for Everyone).

Nicolás Cachanosky is Assistant Professor of Economics at Metropolitan State University of Denver. See Nicolás Cachanosky’s article archives.

You can subscribe to future articles by Nicolás Cachanosky via this RSS feed.

This article was published on Mises.org and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution United States License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

The Myth of Crumbling Highways – Article by David Hartgen

The Myth of Crumbling Highways – Article by David Hartgen

The New Renaissance Hat
David Hartgen
April 2, 2013
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Crumbling infrastructure has a direct impact on our personal and economic health, and the nation’s infrastructure crisis is endangering our future prosperity.

—D. Wayne Klotz, former president of the Society of Civil Engineers

Ah, spring. The snow melts and orange barrels return to the nation’s roads. We hear the usual calls for repairs of “crumbling infrastructure.” Authors of several national studies cite overwhelming needs. President Obama calls for fixing structurally deficient bridges. There are tales of woe in nearly all of these plaintive accounts of America’s highways, and most are used to justify yet more government stimulus spending.

So we decided to look.

Far from crumbling highways, our new Reason Foundation report finds that America’s state-owned highways have actually improved on key measures of road performance. There’s no doubt state governments can do better. In many ways, they’re inefficient, and state transportation dollars are a trough for cronies. But the crumbling-infrastructure meme is just a myth.

The Reason study tracks seven measures: urban and rural interstate condition, deficient bridges, congestion, fatalities, rural primary road condition, and narrow rural roads. We compile data from the states’ reports to the federal government from 1989 through 2008 (the last year available). We also track spending and compare each state with national averages.

Perhaps surprisingly, the U.S. highway system actually improved on all seven measures over the last two decades:

  • The percentage of rural interstates rated “poor” declined by two-thirds, from 6.6 percent to 1.9 percent.
  • Urban interstates with poor pavement dropped from 6.6 percent to 5.4 percent.
  • Rural primary poor pavement improved from 2.8 percent to 0.5 percent.
  • Deficient bridges improved from 37.8 percent to 23.7 percent.
  • Fatality rates improved from 2.16 to 1.25 per 100 million miles driven.

Even urban interstate congestion declined, from 52.6 percent to 48.6 percent, although some of that may be recession-related. During the same period, expenditures for state-owned highways increased by more than 181 percent. Spending per mile increased 177 percent in nominal terms and 60 percent adjusted for inflation.

State-Owned Highways

Most states saw substantial improvements.

All 50 states lowered their highway fatality rates between 1989 and 2008, saving about 150,000 lives. New Mexico, Nevada, and Mississippi saw the biggest decreases in fatality rates. Even if you don’t like the idea of government funding road construction, this fact should be celebrated.

Overall, 40 states reduced their number of deficient bridges from 1989 to 2008. In 1989, over half of Mississippi’s bridges were deficient, but by 2008 only 24.7 percent were rated deficient. Nebraska went from 55.1 percent deficient to 23.6 percent deficient. The numbers rose in 10 states: Hawaii, Alaska, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Idaho, Arizona, Utah, Ohio, South Carolina, and Oregon.

Thirty-seven states improved the condition of rural interstates, but that progress was made mostly in the 1990s and has slowed since then. Five states (Missouri, Rhode Island, Idaho, Nevada, and Wisconsin) reduced their percentage of poor rural interstates from over 20 percent to near zero. But two states, New York and California, reported rural interstate condition worsening by more than five percentage points.

Twenty-seven states improved the condition of urban interstates—indeed, Nevada and Missouri made remarkable turnarounds. In 1989, 47.8 percent of Nevada’s urban interstates were in poor condition, but by 2008, it was just 1.6 percent. Missouri’s urban interstate mileage in poor condition decreased from 46.7 percent in 1989 to 1.3 percent in 2008.

Seven states, however, reported more than 10 percent of their urban interstates in poor condition in 2008. A quarter of Hawaii’s interstates rated poor. In 1989, just 4.1 percent of California’s urban interstates were in poor condition, but by 2008 that number had ballooned to 24.7 percent. Vermont went from 2.9 percent of urban interstates in poor condition in 1989 to 17.5 percent in 2008. New Jersey, Oklahoma, New York, and Louisiana also reported more than 10 percent of urban interstates in poor condition in 2008.

Overall, twenty-nine states reduced urban interstate congestion between 1989 and 2008. Six states—Delaware, Massachusetts, Virginia, Alaska, Missouri, and South Carolina—reported improvements greater than 20 percentage points. But 18 states reported a worsening of urban interstate congestion. The greatest increase in congestion, 36.2 percentage points, was in Minnesota.

Overall, 11 states—North Dakota, Virginia, Missouri, Nebraska, Maine, Montana, Tennessee, Kansas, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Florida—improved on all seven performance measures. Eleven more improved on six measures and 15 improved on five measures. So, 37 states improved in at least five of the seven metrics.

Disbursements_per_mile

In another surprising finding, the study notes road spending seems to be only loosely related to performance.

Of the 22 states that improved on six or seven measures, only one (Florida) spent more than the U.S. average per mile, and several large states (notably Virginia, Missouri, Oregon, Minnesota, and Texas) spent less than half the national average. The study suggests a widening gap between most states making progress and a few spending much more but still performing poorly. It also suggests that the higher road systems, particularly the interstates, are performing better than lower-level systems that are locally owned.

So, if resources are not the problem, what is?

Some of the poor performers have older systems, lots of traffic, and hard winters, but so do some good performers. More likely, the cause is high unit costs—policies that push funds to low-priority projects and “ribbon cuts,” draw attention away from maintenance, and use available revenues inefficiently.

So there are still plenty of problems to fix, but our roads and bridges aren’t crumbling. The overall condition of most state-owned road systems is actually getting better, and you could make a case that they have never been in better shape. The key is to target spending where it will do the most good. If your state is not on our “Top 22” list or is spending more than the U.S. average, ask why.

David T. Hartgen is Emeritus Professor of Transportation at UNC Charlotte, president of The Hartgen Group, and adjunct scholar at the Reason Foundation. This study was sponsored by the Reason Foundation and is available at www.reason.org.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution United States License, which requires that credit be given to the author.