On Tuesday Reason's Bob Poole appeared on "Lou Dobbs Tonight" to discuss tollroad privatization. Being the self-styled champion of pitchfork-populism that he is, Lou doesn't much care for things that might benefit corporate fat cats or--for the love of apple pie--foreigners. So it's no surprise that he misrepresented Bob's comments and mangled the whole issue.
- DOBBS: Coming up next, critically important parts of our national infrastructure are being sold.
SAMUEL COMMENT: Wrong. Sold means legal title is being transferred in perpetuity. Turned over unconditionally. Under the toll concessions legal title is being retained by the states. Private investors are being selected in return for concession fees to get longterm concessions to run the tollroads at their risk under the detailed terms of control of a concession contract. Those contracts give the state a continuing say in many aspects of how the road is operated and they usually contain caps on toll rates.
- DOBBS: And incredibly, [privatization is] being done with the federal government's encouragement. The Bush administration likes this idea.
SAMUEL COMMENT: For a good reason. Tax funds are limited and totally insufficient to fund the construction needed to avert growing congestion on the roads. Hence it would be irresponsible for the federal government NOT to favor tapping private investment funds.
DOBBS: Some of the leading bidders: Foreign investors.
SAMUEL COMMENT: Of course, because the international groups have experience operating tollroads, whereas the US has not until now been hospitable to private investment in tollroads. The location of shareholders is irrelevant. Their conduct of the roads will be governed by US written contracts and US law. If they mess up the roads revert to the states. The investors can't roll up the roads and take them to Madrid or Sydney.
Then again, Samuel would say that. He is, after all, (DUM, DUM, DUM) a foreigner!
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