Friday, July 06, 2012

The Price of Progress

Obama’s transportation secretary hails Chinese infrastructure:

Echoing the laments of pundits like Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood argued Saturday that China outpaces the United States in building major transportation infrastructure like high-speed rail because of its authoritarian system and because the Chinese don't have the Republican Party holding up progress.

"The Chinese are more successful [in building infrastructure] because in their country, only three people make the decision. In our country, 3,000 people do, 3 million," LaHood said in a short interview with The Cable on the sidelines of the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival on June 30. "In a country where only three people make the decision, they can decide where to put their rail line, get the money, and do it. We don't do it that way in America."

As Ed Morrissey notes at Hot Air, it’s bad enough to hear this sort of authoritarian envy from the likes of Friedman. It’s much more disturbing to have a cabinet member in the current administration openly expressing such views, even if LaHood did follow it up by saying that he still prefers democracy. Gee, that’s reassuring, isn’t it?

I suppose it’s too much to ask folks like Friedman and LaHood to stop and think about the costs that come with the type of authoritarian “progress” that's taken place in China before they open their yaps to sing its praises.