An insider’s view of Caltrans, efficiency, and green edicts

A reaction comes via email from a Caltrans employee to the story:

Caltrans abandons weather, embraces “climate change” as the reason for washed out roads

I’ve redacted the name and other identifying information, to protect the employee identity.

This inside view of Caltrans is quite revealing, and it jibes with what I have observed from the outside looking in as a citizen. His point about erosion control is something I see and shake my head about all the time when passing construction sites. The Highway 149 project that he speaks of is a particularly bad example of environmentalism gone berserk. Especially galling was the death of a little boy in his mother’s car in a broadside collision at the intersection that could have been improved 10 years ago if it weren’t for the pointless and bogus lawsuits that kept being put in the way of the project by eco-activists. There were other accidents, injuries and deaths too during that period.

Our local newspaper has a summary from when it finally got underway. Here’s the short story.

The Highway 149 project was conceived in 1993, with work to begin in 1998.

Initially, the project would have cost $40 million, but construction costs soared since then. It ended up being a $128 million project and required environmental mitigation measures that cost $13 million.

Plus, to add insult to injury, in addition to other lawsuits, a local enviro-activist group filed environmental lawsuits over one of the mitigation measures saying it wasn’t enough.

The timeline for the Highway 149 project reads like a wreck in itself.

The Caltrans employee writes:

In my job as a [type of engineer] it is hard enough to actually be responsible for the results a construction contract and try to motivate my people to work, under the backdrop of a falling financial sky with the governor balancing budget on backs of State employees. The budget crisis is supposedly due to a lack of funds. Now, reading this, it is truly disturbing that the Caltrans is willing to make “global warming” a priority and call it the biggest threat to our infrastructure.

We are building projects on a shoestring personnel budget, being forced to comply with draconian water board rules that make no sense and are very costly (like apply erosion control in the middle of the summer), paying off resource agencies for taking the habitat of microscopic organisms that live in cow pastures on other people’s land, and using “clean air” vehicles that do not have an adequate fueling infrastructure, are unreliable and very expensive (maintenance must be done in Texas). These overreaching requirements delay project development and make the projects much more expensive. I sometimes refer to our department as an environmental department that builds roads on the side.

In your area, there is the case of the recent highway 149 widening. That project developed very slowly due to these issues, people continued to crash and die at 70/149. All of these rules stem from laws enacted by other state agencies. Their biggest champion was your local Butte Environmental Council.

When I started with the State years ago, none of these rules existed. Yet I see no change in the environment and continue to hear of manmade degradation of the environment. I am not certain, but I would highly suspect, that no one has done a quantifiable analysis of how much of anything we are saving by implementing these rules. I am certain that we can quantify the number of people who have died and the number of our tax dollars used due to the delay of the projects.

Just like Global Warming, I suspect this is all a money grab and alarmist funding feast. No problem = no funding.

While I am very tempted to write to our management about the piece, I know that my letter would be immediately round-filed and ignored. With an organization that will ignore even basic facts like water running downhill (I have to fix faulty designs on a routine basis) trying to “address” the piece would most likely go nowhere and only serve to frustrate me even more.


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48 thoughts on “An insider’s view of Caltrans, efficiency, and green edicts

  1. As a child, I wondered why, as population grew, the highway system did not grow accordingly. This is why. They hate people. We are a scourge on this planet, and anything we might want to do to improve out quality of life must therefore be bad.

    GPlant

  2. Another example of how Reality is nowhere to be found when eco-tyrants flex their muscles.

  3. Twas ever thus.

    If a government could take the cheap route then there would be a requirement to reduce taxes. Reduced taxes means a reduced chance of promotion and a bigger pay packet.

    In the UK now we, the taxpayers, pay government employees a bonus for doing their jobs! The mind boggles.

  4. Finally I can prove without any doubt there is global warming in the arctic

    Should be top post for a month! I think you cant find through google

  5. I feel for this guy. And it’s only going to get worse. Governor Moonbeam is back and he’s a full-frontal supporter of enviro-rigging. Now, taxes are going up (again) in California, the new rules will only increase the cost of living.

    The good news for this guy is that as taxes go up, jobs leave the state, and the number of people will start to dwindle. As that happens, less people will have to die on the interchanges that need help.

    California really needs to dissolve its government and start from scratch.

  6. “With an organization that will ignore even basic facts like water running downhill…”

    That kind of sums up everything about CA’s direction, doesn’t it?

  7. “[…] and using “clean air” vehicles that do not have an adequate fueling infrastructure, are unreliable and very expensive (maintenance must be done in Texas). […]”

    Can you say, “Face palm?” I knew you could.

    My guess, from reading this amazingly clear-eyed overview, is that if California got rid of all their ‘green’ mandates they’d be twice as ‘green’ at 1/3 the cost.

  8. The author reminds us of a very serious problem which is bound to get worse: The unchecked proliferation of overly-strict, complicated and very costly rules and regulations brought in by ever-growing and increasingly avaricious bureacracies. Regulations are imposed with relative ease and on the flimsiest of rationales, and even when they prove to be useless or harmful, inertia and vested interests protect them from proper review, alteration or cancellation. Historically, societies which have burdened themselves in this way tend to suffer, to eventually collapse economically and socially and eventually undergo violent overthrows with the promise and hope of a new start, a “clean slate.” I’m not aware of any successful cases where rational and responsible administrations successfully managed to review, change or cancel damaging regulatory and legal burdens in a pragmatic, orderly or peaceful manner. Good luck, California; don’t feel alone in your decline; we’re all boldly heading in the same direction anyway.

  9. Wow, just wow. Let me be the first to say “It’s worse than we thought;” that is, the political leadership in California. To the author of this post, an engineer, stand firm and hang in there…engineering is a tough gig (I know, I’ve been at it since 1980).

  10. Anthony:
    [snip – noted and fixed thanks]

    Nice to see an inside view. I am dismayed, not surprised, to read that California ships “clean air” vehicles to Texas for maintenance. True eco-blinders driven fanaticism at work…

  11. As a company California would have been a nice corporate scandal. It is a shame. People
    who have opinion and power do think they can do everything. If water continues to flow downhill they may pass a law prohibiting exactly that.

    Good night, CA. If there is someone out there seeking an explanation why the US is where it is – just consider that this is one small piece of info only that leaked.

    That Environmental Councils are responsable for deaths is definitively worse than we thought.

  12. To repeat a very important quote from the last “Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup”

    “Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous…. With such persons, gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason and the mind becomes a wreck.” –Thomas Jefferson

    Our society appears to no longer be raising people who can think with their brains rather than their hearts.

  13. In the electric utility industry, environmental laws are the NIMBY’s primary weapon. Whine about how a transmission line will impact your view and people will ignore you. Claim that the line will disturb wildlife and you’ll have a dozen enviro groups supporting you.

    I’d be willing to bet the Butte enviro’s who most strongly opposed the street widening were primarily people who thought that their property value would be decreased by the project.

  14. “it jives with …”

    That’s the wrong word. You mean “jibe”

    Definition of JIBE
    intransitive verb
    : to be in accord : agree

    The word “jive” has a completely different, arguably opposing meaning. As in “I don’t believe any of that Hockey Team jive”.

    REPLY: Correct you are, thanks, fixed. -Anthony

  15. I live in northern Japan, Tohoku. Right now we have a couple of substantive issues to deal with. My reading of the situation is the nation is united and effort is focussed on solving the problems and moving forward. I’m glad I made the move from the west, and I’m anticipating watching most of the industrialised nations disappearing in the rear view mirror. There’s no appetite for self inflicted impoverishment here. And our rivers are clean and jumping with fish.

  16. John Marshall says:
    April 14, 2011 at 6:32 am

    “In the UK now we, the taxpayers, pay government employees a bonus for doing their jobs! The mind boggles.”

    Yes indeed, even the Met Office, and we all know how ‘well’ they did at their job.

    “The Government-owned body also came under fire during the volcanic ash cloud “crisis” for its role in the closure of British airspace, which caused travel misery for millions in what has since been seen as largely a waste of time.”
    “Matthew Sinclair, research director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “With many of their seasonal forecasts proving spectacularly wrong and ordinary taxpayers struggling following the recession, it is shocking that the Met Office thinks big bonuses for its staff are appropriate.”
    “Taxpayers will be outraged to see that their money is being spent like this, while they are facing higher taxes and services are under pressure. This shows that the Government needs to do more to restrain remuneration at unaccountable quangos.””

    And as usual the vast bulk of the bonuses go to the people at the top. I suspect the bonuses are more for pushing the propaganda rather than any accuracy at forecasting!

    Read more: http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/189142/Met-Office-duffers-get-1-4m-bonus-Met-Office-duffers-get-1-4m-bonus-Met-Office-duffers-get-1-4m-bonus-Met-Office-duffers-get-1-4m-bonus-Met-Office-duffers-get-1-4m-bonus-Met-Office-duffers-get-1-4m-bonus-Met-Office-duffers-get-1-4m-bonus-Met-Office-duffers-get-1-4m-bonus-Met-Office-duffers-get-1-4m-bonus-Met-Office-duffers-get-1-4m-bonus-Met-Office-duffers-get-1-4m-bonus-Met-Office-duffers-get-1-4m-bonus-Met-Office-duffers-get-1-4m-bonus-Met-Office-duffers-get-1-4m-bonus-Met-Office-duffers-get-1-4m-bonus-Met-Office-duffers-get-1-4m-bonus-#ixzz1JVi0B1q6

  17. “draconian water board rules that make no sense and are very costly (like apply erosion control in the middle of the summer), paying off resource agencies for taking the habitat of microscopic organisms that live in cow pastures on other people’s land, and using “clean air” vehicles that do not have an adequate fueling infrastructure, are unreliable and very expensive (maintenance must be done in Texas). These overreaching requirements delay project development and make the projects much more expensive. I sometimes refer to our department as an environmental department that builds roads on the side”.

    It’s the same in Europe.
    Lunatic demands for service vehicles to enter cities or vehicle requirements for companies who make an offer to public projects.
    Endless procedures and law suits and when a project finally gets the go ahead the find of a single toad (protected species) is sufficient to halt the entire project.
    That’s why more and more private construction companies go to China where they can build without restrictions and leave the public projects in Europe to the Chinese.

    It’s time to set fire to the house of the green sustainable madness and burn the red tape for good.

  18. For California, the necessary process is: crash -> reboot. Well intentioned efforts to fix the problems only serve to delay the inevitable. The problem is the people are fooled into believing those in charge know what they are doing, and are working in the best interests of the people. They want us to believe there are greedy forces from which we need protection. It’s more like a mob protection racket. The greedy and power-mad are in Sacramento.

    It is important for California to utterly fail – to save the nation. The same dangerous ‘progressive’ policies bringing ruin to the state have infected Congress. Waxman-Markey (cap-and-trade swindle) being just one example.

    If California goes down hard and fast, we have a chance to recover quickly with vigorous new leadership in a new direction, backed by popular demands. With a slow devolution, we will grow accustomed to increasingly third-world conditions. People who have a chance to flee the sinking ship will do so, and the exodus will be more complete the longer this process takes. If those we need for the rebound are gone, we’ll be stuck in the mud for a long time.

    Therefore, you Republicans in Sacramento, don’t try to save us. Make clear how the Democrat policies will destroy the state, and plan the recovery. Let the socialists have whatever they want, and it will be clear whose policies are wrecking the state. Communicate how those policies are the problem and what needs to change.

    It’s like letting my kids have all the chocolate they want and more. After binging for a day, they don’t want any for a long time. Natural consequences are the best teachers. We have a chance to save the nation if a few socialist states go down. Otherwise, the whole country could fail, and we know we are closer to that point now than we have ever been before.

  19. Ah, it all makes sense now.

    Los Angeles has bad traffic. Granted any one spot in LA is probably not as bad as some very famous junctions or bridges back east. However, taken as a whole, I would easily wager it is harder to get anywhere meaningful in Los Angeles during rush hour than any other city on earth. This is a combination of size (LA is *very* spread out) and not enough road. When I moved here in 1984 rush hour was simply heavier traffic with backups only when there were accidents. Now if you leave LAX anytime between 3:30pm and 5pm on a weekday, you wont make it to Orange County until an hour later regardless of which route you take (it should only take 25 minutes). In that span of time Los Angeles has only gained 1 freeway, the 105, which runs between the 605 and the 405 and is among the shortest freeways LA has.

    I know a lot of this had to do with our now re-elected Governor Moonbeam. California knew it was facing a population crunch back in the 80s, and Gerrymandering Brown and his party at the time decided the way to prevent people from coming to California was to stop building. Their philosophy was truly, “Don’t build it and they wont come.” It was a wholly luddite approach that meant if they stopped expanding the freeway system, the environment would improve for everyone.

    Twenty seven years later the air is cleaner, but you don’t live in a house. Instead the average person I know splits their time between car and apartment.

    I can’t speak for Northern CA but here in Southern California, where daily commerce wholly depends on freeway use, the economic impact of that decision is probably incalculable. The hilarious thing is, CARB is still trying to make it harder for you to use your car. They penalize companies for how many employees don’t use public transportation in a city where the bus system is a joke (you’re better off riding a bicycle in most cases), and light-rail simply doesn’t cover enough area to be useful.

    This is government at it’s worst, not listening to the peoples needs, dictating action based on a pseudo-moral choice, and demonizing industry.

  20. In my county [south of San Francisco], we have a mini-me version of Caltrans called the Valley Transit Authority [VTA].

    The VTA always used private contractors to run the bus system. These contractors had always bid competitively for the contracts, thus keeping the cost to taxpayers down. They also paid property taxes on their buses, equipment, terminals, etc.

    Then 2 years ago the VTA management decided it could run the system better than the private sector, so it took over the bus system, thus losing all the county’s tax income in the process. The bus drivers promptly became public employee union members parasites on the public, with increased pay and benefits, and the VTA’s top management gave themselves raises for their ‘increased responsibility.’

    You can probably guess the rest of the story: costs to the taxpaying public promptly doubled, and are still rising, while service has gotten spotty and less reliable, and bus routes have been cut. But government bureaucrats run the system now, and that’s all that seems to matter.

  21. My thanks to the Caltrans employee who wrote this. Know that you are not alone – there are many other rational professionals working for government agencies in northern California. We will not go quietly into the night, and we will fight the lunacy as best we can.

  22. The following comments are my own opinion:

    I find in my dealing with regulatory agencies and and their agents that the best and brightest minds work in the industry. I routinely come across people working for companies that once worked for various government agencies. When I bring up various regulations that don’t make any sense they shake their heads and say something to the effect that this is why they don’t work for the gov’t anymore.

    We must all keep in mind that many state agencies don’t pay well, actually have very limited budgets, and often have low requirements for employment (especially when “equal employment opportunity” is taken into consideration – see http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/wew/articles/11/DiversityPerversity & http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/wew/articles/11/DepartmentOfInjustice ). A further example is how ideological many government agencies have become, see EPA, DOI, California, etc.

    When idiocy is combined with ideological goals you get what is exemplified in this article, and on a grander scheme the entire UN-IPCC agenda driven corruption.

  23. Jeremy,

    At least the drivers in SoCal know the rules of the road, and they’re pretty polite considering the congestion. They use their turn signals when changing lanes, and move into a slower lane when approached from behind by a faster car.

    “Slower traffic keep right” is the law, but it doesn’t seem to apply in N. California, at least not in the S.F. Bay Area. People [greens, I’m sure] routinely drive at or below the speed limit in the fast lane. They refuse to move over even when you flash your headlights. Letters to the editor commonly refer to these scofflaws as “road boulders.”

    It is not uncommon to see a long line of cars behind a road boulder that is deliberately keeping pace next to another slow-moving car in the next lane, with a 3/4 mile open stretch in front of them. This forces drivers to move over two or more lanes to the right in order to get around the slowpoke; not a safe situation. Apparently they are self-designated activists determined to make sure that everyone conserves gasoline. And the CHP does nothing about it.

  24. Apparently they are self-designated activists determined to make sure everyone conserves gasoline. And the CHP does nothing about it.

    Actually the result is the opposite. What ends up happening when the cars bunch up behind them is that it begins to “accordion”. People coming upon the congestion apply their brakes. This causes the driver behind to apply their brakes and so on. But they tend to over brake a little bit and then must speed up a little. Then they begin this pattern of speeding up and slowing down that causes the line of cars, if viewed from above, to expand and contract like an accordion or bellows or a line of newbie troops just learning to march.

    Those “road boulders” are actually responsible for the wasting of a lot of fuel and cause accidents.

  25. @Smokey says: April 14, 2011 at 9:22 am

    That’s generally the rule in So.Cal too. However, I would agree that one of the side-benefits to increasing traffic congestion is that people generally become more polite on the freeways. It’s actually a mild form of fatalism I would say. Most people I know who brave the freeways on a regular basis laugh quite loudly at those who try to cut people off and advance in heavy traffic in Los Angeles. It’s hilarious to watch, I’ll get on the 405 at 4pm on Friday, and someone behaving aggressively will switch lanes often, causing more slowdown. Inevitably when I get off the freeway 20 miles later, that person is still visible to me, only having advanced 10-15 car lengths for all that absurd effort. Most of the time the people doing this have out-of-state plates.

  26. Several years ago, there was an AP article about a conference concerning insurance industry regulation that was held by a cooperative association of state attorney generals.

    As part of their state’s approach to regulating the various insurance companies that did business in their states, many of these attorney generals decided that climate change was primarily responsible for their state’s increasing losses to hurricanes, tornadoes, storms, floods, and wildfires.

    By blaming global warming for these events, these state regulators get the spotlight off of both themselves and the insurance companies they regulate for explaining increasing costs for insurance premiums in states subject to adverse weather events, or events such as wildfires which are a normal part of the ecosystems where they occur.

    Moreover, by blaming global warming, these state regulators avoid the messy business of brokering an honest dialogue among the public, the insurance industry, and other government officials as to who is ultimately responsible for bearing the costs of any individual’s decision to own a home or a business in a location which is highly subject to weather-related or ecosystem-related insurance losses.

  27. Another great first-hand account of how efficient government is at doing something! And we want it running health care, too??

    Eventually our system will be run completely by NGOs and gov’t, and it will collapse of its own weight. I thought it would happen long before now, but it looks like you’re getting VERY close down there in CA!

  28. About ten years ago a professor of civil engineering at Trinity University in San Antonio (TX) published his study of road construction costs and the time it took. He concluded that road building was so inefficient that it could be accomplished in half the cost in one quarter the time if some basic management principles were followed. (Pardon if I mis-remembered the percentages.) And this was in Texas where the absurd CalTran environmental rules are no barrier.

    Best I can tell, nothing ever came of the study. On the other hand, the professor may have lost his job, for all I know.

  29. Smokey says: April 14, 2011 at 9:22 am

    “Slower traffic keep right” is the law, but it doesn’t seem to apply in N. California, at least not in the S.F. Bay Area. People [greens, I’m sure] routinely drive at or below the speed limit in the fast lane.”

    Smokey, as far as I can tell, Drive Right, Pass Left is NOT the law in CA. It’s certainly not in the driver’s handbook used to study for the DMV driving test (at least not the ones I’ve studied). I learned to drive in Pennsylvania where DRPL is the law and it’s enforced. CA drivers that stay in the left lane drive me nuts……………………. but I do accept that when you have 6 lanes going each direction, it’s kinda hard to integrate the DRPL regimen.

    And, yes, several years ago I carpooled with a slow driver that said “I figure I’m saving gas in all those cars behind me”

  30. …people continued to crash and die at 70/149…

    This may be cynical, but, stupid never goes away. One of the profound ironies of both state and county road programs is that “safer” roads tend to insure higher energy accidents – people drive faster – and thus more fatalities. The situation may be exacerbated when one of these “safer” stretches of road transitions into a less built up road. I grew up in a foothill county and learned driving on roads that looked like patchwork quilts. At that time a huge exodus was taking place out of the valley suburbs and “outsiders” were crowding in to developments that offered very little difference in quality of life from the suburbs they moved out of. The big difference was that the commute to work now could take an hour or more and the county roads – scenic though they were – were too crooked and rough to drive fast enough to kill yourself or somebody else even in a head-on. Being from the city, these folks wanted smoother, straighter, faster roads. They particularly didn’t like neighborly folk stopping to pass the time of day “right there in the road.” They were upset when a rancher had to move a herd across the road from one pasture to another. Once Caltrans and FHWA were done with the improvments, the rancher packed up, and trucked his herd to Oregon or Idaho, and hoped the city folk would not follow.

    Caltrans and Federal Highways may imagine they make roads safer. But, ask any native from the foothill counties – or the Coast Range region – and they will tell you that fatal accidents didn’t become common until after the roads were “improved.” People ran off roads and through, occasionally the car or truck roll, but speed was necessarily low and injuries usually limited.

  31. JAE says:
    April 14, 2011 at 9:42 am

    “Eventually our system will be run completely by NGOs and gov’t, and it will collapse of its own weight. I thought it would happen long before now, but it looks like you’re getting VERY close down there in CA!”

    And in the EU, amazing how much funding these so-called NGOs get from the government – Propaganda by Proxy – the EU funds the lobbying groups that support its policies and then claim the laws brought in on the back of these policies are by ‘popular’ demand!

    “the Directorate-General for the Environment – the European Commission unit that deals with environment affairs – has handed out over €66 million in core funding to green NGOs. The IPN report focuses on the Green 10 – a coalition of NGOs that pushes environmental issues at the EU-level. All the usual suspects are here – Friends of the Earth Europe, WWF-Europe, and other more EU-focused groups like the European Environmental Bureau and Climate Action Network Europe.
    Nine out of the Green 10 receive funding from DG Environment. Eight of them depend on it for 33% or more of their funding – and five of them for more than 50%.”

    http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/environment/propaganda-by-proxy%3A-how-the-eu-funds-green-lobby-groups/

    What better way to increase its power base than to create a supposed ‘problem’ that it can only ‘protect’ the people from with greater taxation and legislation!!

    The EU Connection in Climate Research
    http://www.hoover.org/publications/policy-review/article/43291

  32. John Marshall: only some government workers are paid bonuses to do their jobs in the UK. When I was a teacher in the State system I never once saw even a sniff of a bonus and neither did any of my former colleauges. My wife teaches infants and holds a senior management position and has done so for years; she has never been paid a bonus either.

  33. Smokey, there was a video posted at failblog the other day showing what New Jersey state troopers do when someone blocks the left lane:

    (caution: language)

  34. When I first moved to California back in the 70’s, Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown was in his first stint as governor. He appointed as head of Caltrans a lady named (I believe) Adriana Gianturco. Together they implemented a plan to force people to carpool: they stopped highway improvements so ultimately population would outpace roadway expansion. They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams in getting population to outgrow the roads, but not in getting people to carpool.

    One freeway I travel to and from work has a carpool lane. For a couple years they opened that lane up for all traffic while they built some connections to a crossing freeway. All during that construction there was never a backup in that stretch of freeway. As soon as they completed the connections and re-designated the lane as a carpool lane, the congestion in the remaining 4 lanes returned. Surprise! remove 20% of the resources and reserve them for about 3% of the demand, and you get a scarcity. Just like economics.

  35. A saying I’ve heard attributed to H.L. Mencken:

    “The continent is tilted slightly east to west, and everything loose slides into California.”

  36. “Road Boulders”

    There’s any easy way of dealing with clowns like this. Lane change around so that you’re directly in front of them, by a few car lengths, then take you foot off the accelerator. Coast. As you slow down, they eventually get the idea and change lanes.

  37. Alexander K

    The trouble is that if you want to be paid a bonus the flip side is that your performance will need to be appraised. Most unions are dead against this as they will insist that all the workers in that place/sector/industry do a good job and should simply be paid more in the base salary.

    If you want a bonus then expect to be assessed and to be paid according to your genuine talents. Thats how the base salary should be set. A bonus should be paid as a result of the employee going the extra mile, and not as some right or expectation.

    If you are not prepared to be assessed according to skill and effort then either don’t expect a bonus or change jobs to one where a bonus can be paid. Also if you, or your wife, want a bonus, or the opportunity for a bonus then stir up your union so that it negotiates such a system with your employer (the State). Is that likely to happen? If the answer is no then don’t complain where I can read it.

  38. @jeremy : so true.

    After a stretch living in LA I once made a vow while stuck on a freeway, right there and then, that I would never complain about traffic ever again in my native land. The snarls can become immense, but there is nothing you can do but accept your fate. The outcome is politeness and patience for the majority, as it is evident that you can only sit there and accept the inevitable.

    It’s been my working hypothesis ever since that the worst drivers are in those places which only periodically experience heavy traffic. Those types of jams will be full of aggressive people who think they can get the whole thing moving with some jerky lange changing, fist waving and horn blowing.

    Me? I tend to surf the radio, looking for a song that will brighten my day, or maybe crack out the hands free and chat to a friend I haven’t seen in a while.

  39. I was born and raised in the UK, moved to Australia 4 years ago and am now in the process of moving to California… out of the frying pan, into the fire, out of the fire into the lava…

  40. CC3,

    Remember that single occupancy drivers of hybrids and other green vehicles now get to use the car pool lanes. Four legs good, two legs better!

  41. Somewhere inbetween, “People get the government they deserve,” and “Be careful what you ask for, you might get it,” lies the decaying corpse of the state of California.

  42. Peter Kovachev says:
    Historically, societies which have burdened themselves in this way tend to suffer, to eventually collapse economically and socially and eventually undergo violent overthrows with the promise and hope of a new start, a “clean slate.”

    Although I don’t doubt you, I would be quite interested in seeing some examples where this cause is clearly evident – can you provide any?

    Joe Crawford says:
    Our society appears to no longer be raising people who can think with their brains rather than their hearts.

    I have three school-aged children. It seems to me that independent critical thought is held in quite low regard anymore. It certainly isn’t taught.

  43. Rob R,

    I think Alexander K was rather making the point that John Marshall’s sweeping generalisation about UK public servants being paid bonuses was incorrect.

    Marshall might also like to reflect that bonuses are far more common in the private sector which, as a consumer, he pays for in higher prices. But bonuses are obscenely high in the financial sector,and we all know where the latter has dumped the rest of us over the last few years, requiring public bailouts to the tune of billions of pounds that will cost taxpayers for many years to come. This dwarfs anything happening in the public sector.

    So Marshall’s original gripe really has little basis.

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