Posts tagged ‘Traffic’

Monday Morning

I drove my son to the airport at o’dark thirty this morning. It is about a 65 mile drive each way and we left my place at 4:20 am for a 6:30 flight to San Diego. Nothing is ever simple. It turns out that they are doing major work on the bridge that crosses the Sacramento River so we were warned of massive traffic backups. So we were seeing how close you can get to our normal turnoff (I-5) before you get caught in traffic and running alternate routes through our heads. It actually wasn’t that bad and we were able to stay the normal route with little delay, sort of. Then about 2 miles from the Airport, stop and go traffic on a real straight stretch of I-5 and sure enough some kind of spin out and major crash. All I could think of is how do they do it? It is straight, there are no on or off ramps, and they run into each other. Made it to the airport on time so no problem there, but on the return trip I noticed that we got through the construction just in time as there were major backups. Do we drive anywhere anymore that does not have some kind of delay/construction?

Okay on to news of the day. All the talk is about sanctions on North Korea that were worked out in a conference in the Philippines with all the South East Asia nations and us of course. I hope it works because the alternative is very frightening. It really is the only way to go at this time, but I have little optimism. The big assumption here is that North Korea wants more than anything else to stay in power and they will see that to do this they will be willing to give up their nuke program. The thinking is that China wants to maintain North Korea as a southern buffer to USA aligned South Korea, and China has no interest in seeing North Korea fail because there would be a massive refugee problem as North Koreans have a chance to flee their living hell.

I don’t think this logic holds because North Korea is first and foremost an abomination as a country. There is no way for the North Koreans to continue to hold power without the extreme dictatorship and threat from the wicked United States. The assumption that this mentality is rational, I believe, is flawed. Or maybe it is rational. The only way they can stay in power is to hold on to their nukes and continue to stoke the fears of invasion. If things got materially better there, would not the improved economic situation drive change that would be antithetical to the North Koreans holding power? The calculation has to be what can prevent a war until the North Korean regime collapses under its own weight hoping they don’t decide to take Southeast Asia with them. Then there is the dubious calculation that we will empower this brutal dictatorship to remain as long as there is no nuclear threat. I think North Korea sees through this one.

Paul Krugman has an interesting discussion about where Democrats should go on healthcare and I think he is dead on. If you followed my discussions before, to reduce the cost of healthcare for all of us, we have to share the costs with the widest possible pool (universal coverage) and ensure that the plans we have cover most of our needs (regulated market). Now how you get there is the issue (and not counter to what Republicans are pushing which is “choice and deregulated markets” which the CBO scores again and again as a failure). So is single payer the answer? The answer is maybe, but he points out that other countries get there by everything from Obamacare expanded to Government healthcare:

Look at the latest report by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund, comparing health care performance among advanced nations. America is at the bottom; the top three performers are Britain, Australia, and the Netherlands. And the thing is, these three leaders have very different systems.

 

Britain has true socialized medicine: The government provides health care directly through the National Health Service. Australia has a single-payer system, basically Medicare for All — it’s even called Medicare. But the Dutch have what we might call Obamacare done right: individuals are required to buy coverage from regulated private insurers, with subsidies to help them afford the premiums.

 

And the Dutch system works, which suggests that a lot could be accomplished via incremental improvements in the A.C.A., rather than radical change. Further evidence for this view is how relatively well Obamacare, imperfect as it is, already works in states that try to make it work — did you know that only 5.4 percent of New Yorkers are now uninsured?

So he then argues that give the systems in place, instead of focusing on single payer, we improve Obamacare with maybe a single payer option as politically and functionally the best way forward. I have to agree. I have argued for single payer forever, but I am not ideologically wedded to it and neither are most Democrats although that is how they are painted. What we want is universal coverage and the best way forward to do that. That is the real debate and I think Krugman nailed it.

Finally, I think what is worth noting this morning is how the Trump administration is trying to open up public lands in the West to coal mining. Now aside from the argument that coal used in anything destroys the planet with its CO2 emissions and the damage done to the environment itself in the mining, the question has to be, who wants the coal when there are cheaper cleaner fuels? Also one might ask, what jobs when coal mining in general is going to more and more mechanization. But the real point here is that there is not a shortage of coal based up demand and so this is an attempt to say, if we supply it they will buy it. I think we have already seen this fail over and over again. There has to be pentup demand. So this, besides destroying the environment and contributing to the overheating of the planet will be another experiment like Kansas (tax cuts will pay for themselves) where we will see the failure of Republican ideas. As Thomas Wolfe famously wrote, You Can’t Go Home Again. Time to move on.

Why Would You Live in LA

Well, here is a blog written by someone who has never lived there and in the last 20 years has only seen LA from the edge of the freeway going through it, so judge accordingly.  I made my yearly trip down to San Diego to visit my son so I get my yearly taste of LA traffic and I-5 ignoramuses.  I wrote about the drive last year (Going Crazy Driving I-5) and my fantasy for a roof mounted rocket launcher on my car.  This year two things struck me as representative of where we have arrived at.

The first is that while the speed limit on I-5 is 70 mph, that would be in the slow lane.  But from time to time you either have a truck passing a truck or some ignoramus actually only driving 70 mph (or slower) in the fast lane, which slows everything down.  But generally everyone will que up in the left lane waiting for a their turn to finally clear the offending motorist and resume warp factor 5.  But there are always those who refuse the que, and come zipping up on the right and then try to cut back into the que when they get near the front.  I like to think of them as Republicans.  The rules only apply to others.

The other striking revelation is LA freeways.  What a mess.  The trip through LA on a Saturday morning added an additional 1.5 hours of travel time to the normal trip duration if you could have maintain even close to the speed limit.  There were a couple of times as we were creeping along that I was thankful for the creeping as the freeway looked like a giant pothole.  And of course there is construction everywhere.  You know those shows in LA like NCIS Los Angeles or Scorpion when they jump in their cars to get to some crime scene?  Right, not happening in a 1-hour time slot.

But how did we let our freeways get in such a state that a horse and buggy would be quicker?  I am sure like the residents of San Francisco, the residence of LA know their short cuts on city streets that keep them out of the log jams on the freeways, but again, how did we get here?  Why did we let things get so bad before we take action?  That seems to be the question of our times.  We can see this stuff coming and yet until we are sitting in a traffic jam we can’t seem to force ourselves to plan ahead.  Again I harken back to Republicans who think these things will be taken care of by the private sector, when government planning and investment are necessary.

The only flaw in that logic is that as soon as you enter Orange County (Republican stronghold) the freeways widen, Disneyland is coming up, and the carpool lane is actually two lanes. You ever seen a two lane carpool (HOV) set aside? I guess that says something about an affluent tax base and power to influence where transportation funds are spend.  Too bad LA county could not get in on that.  Of course then there is the problem of how you rebuild and expand a freeway system that you can’t get to because of the traffic jam that is parked over it.

So I will be looking for a longer route to San Diego which bypasses LA.  As you get older it is really important you keep moving so the next rest stop is not hours away.  Going home we will do it in the middle of the night. I wonder if the cat will forgive me for being gone.  The dog went to dog Disneyland so at least she will be okay with us being gone. Maybe irked that we came home.  You just can’t win.