Loopy is as loopy does

I found this on a website: “Typically, December yields a budget surplus because most corporations make quarterly income tax payments and withholding for individuals is relatively high because of year-end bonuses and seasonal employment.”

Well, typically we miss a very important part of the human interest story in this dry recitation of taxes. The relevant section(s) are these: “every December … (the) quarterly … withholding for individuals” is paid to the federal government. And why is this important? Here’s why: Most workers nowadays get paid every two weeks. Every two weeks your employer deducts some amount for taxes, social security, FICA and whatever else they squeeze out of you in your jurisdiction. In New York City there’s a city income tax too. In some states there’s no income tax, like Nevada. Every one of the cities, counties and states compiles a different set – but the federales are there all the time. So, still, some amount is deducted. It runs from a low of about $100 – or $50 every week – for your portion of social security and FICA, and taxes. That’s not a lot. For some it is in the $300 range every two weeks. I don’t know, maybe higher even. But what happens to that money? Where does it go? Does it take a vacation, too? It sure does.

Believe it or not the answer is right there in the clipped passage – every quarter the money withheld is sent to the Federal government. And where is it during the quarter? Well, in the bank account of the business which is forced to do the withholding. In effect the company is gaining interest on the money while they are waiting to pay it quarterly. Let’s say they take $100 for the first week. It gains 1% interest per week. That’s a dollar a week. 12 weeks later that’s $12. Who can better use the $12 interest – you the tax payer or they the company? Now, the second period’s $100 only pays $11 for the 12 weeks, because it wasn’t withheld the first week. But still – when you are done with it – it’s a $100 or so that is earned by the company – you gave it an interest free loan, which they put in the bank, and earned interest on. Ain’t that nice? That’s the tax code, coming to a health care facility near you any day now – that’s what you have to wrap your mind around.

Meanwhile, there’s a story on the front page of the local section of today’s Advocate. “Traffic Loop gets support.” Well, yes, always good that a project some 20 years in development finally gets some support. Not enough yet, but they’re gettign somewhere I suppose. The options presented in the southeast quadrant of the loop concept is the most important issue – because that’s where a bridge is either needed or already exists. That’s where they stick Mississippi is icking things up – it’s a big river after all. Oddly, all the plans call for a new bridge, at a cool billion bucks – in environmentally sensitive areas, in undeveloped areas, where there is little to no infrastructure, none of which have gained support except from the people selling the land to the bridge builders.

And what of the bridge that already exists? Oh, my, that’s a few miles away, outside of the politician’s view of where the bridge should go. There’s a perfectly good bridge, built to handle interstate traffic already there, underutilized, but still, very real. Meanwhile, there’s also the right of way that runs down Highway One – As wide as any interstate – right to this existing bridge. This highway is virtually unused once it leaves the tiny city of Plaquemines. Further, this Hwy 1 keeps going down to deep bayou – who cares how far? – it’s all the way, really, until there’s no more land at all. It’s just as well to put the new interstate type loopy thingy into the, well, loop that’s already there. The bigger the network the bigger the benefit to business, real estate development, environmental protection, lower budget impact, quicker implementation, and hurricane evacuation. Highway One hooks up nicely with Highway 98 which is being developed into interstate standards in bits and pieces from Morgan City back up to New Orleans – hence, part of the big loop. And some 4 digit highways for which reason I don’t know are already built up – but disconnected. But bits and pieces are there. And they all hook up with what is being built as Interstate 49 from Lafayette down to Morgan City. Oh my, look at the loopiness – all using existing parts and rights of way.

But NOOooooooo, instead they argue incessantly about what brand new far more expensive parts can be built that will ultimately be not enough anyway and still don’t public support. Keep trying guys – but avoid doing the same, rational, economical, farseeing thing. That would be silly.

Even stranger, in our times of evironmental consciousness, they want to plow highways into untrammeled areas, but not use the existing corridors that so much has been invested in already. It’s like the new guys are saying “ha, we don’t like what the old guys did – – we can’t get out name on it!” Piffle of course. Meanwhile, the chance to leave parts of nature still not trammeled pure and simple, is being thrown away in the “we did a big project” mentality of politicians.

Instead of connecting them – oh, no, let’s go ahead and build completely new highways. Incredibly, I heard about this fabled loop some 20 years ago. And still they argue where it should go. Still they have luke warm support. Still they push the tired ideas, and accept not one reasonable proposal to build on what already exists. They do have some piddling $4,000,000,000 allocated — “that’s what it’ll cost” is proferred with a straight face. Not a person on earth believes that any project comes in on time and at budget. It’s an absurd notion.

But let me tell you about a miracle of such underbudget, before time projects: The Williamsburg Bridge. When in doubt, there’s always a New York bridge that can be brought into the story. The Williamsburg is one of those unknown bridges. It spans the East River, to um, the neighborhood called Williamsburg, having left Delancy Street. Disclosure: I was born at the Brooklyn side of the bridge. Now, everyone knows the Brooklyn. That’s the one that’s for sale all the time. That’s the one every camera zooms up on the way to Hollywood’s New York. By default of location a few hundred yards upstream is the Manhattan. Not nearly as well known, it’s in most pictures of the Brooklyn. It’s too close to avoid. I won’t go into all the other bridges, of which there are a lot. But I will bring up the next bridge up the East River from the Battery. That’s the Williamsburg.

The crooks who built that were given a bonus if they beat time and budget. So they did. By not completing the bridge and not getting the best materials. The thing that saved them perhaps the most is that instead of Galvanzied wire, which would not pit, rust, and decay under the weather they bought regular wire and coated it with linseed oil. Oh, who even knows what Linseed oil is anymore. It was a lubricant and a preservative. Of what plant it comes from I do not know. I never heard of the “Lin” plant, from which to get seed. I guess I could look it up; alas I’m too lazy.

Still, since the bridge’s building they’ve had to replace all the cables and wires, and most of the rivets, and steel. In fact, what you see and drive over is not really the bridge that was built at all. The bridge has simply been replaced while it was in place and being used. Which is a miracle of free market engineering.

Still, the loop proposals that ignore the existing brigde in our time of limited resources is dumb. That which ignores the fact that the big donut in the middle can be left natural and rural is stupid. And that which avoids the roads connecting to the bridge are already there are not to swift. Still, the cost will therefore probably be far less than $4,000,000,000 – especially if $1,000,000,000 is for land acquisition. But hey, there’s politics and new highways, and signs with names on them, and brothers-in-law and contributors that can use a few contracts. And besides, it means that nothing will get done, and so the consultants can continue to consult at a rather steep rate. And lobbyists need to ply legislators with gifts and favors.

Me, I’ll work for nothing. So listen to me dummies – use the bridge you got, and the right-of-ways you got, and the roadbeds you got – and pretty soon you can have a loop around Baton Rouge to avoid all that blinding traffic. Blinding with rage. And while I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express in New Orleans, I did stay at a friends house and that’s sufficient experience and wisdom to have a cogent thought on 20 years of political piffle that hasn’t resolved the most simplest problem presented – where to put a bridge and a highway? Why, right were the highway and the bridge already ar! Quelle Simple – French for How Simple. I do not know the French for “And presto – Loop!”

Meanwhile, they could do something stupid like simply asking 18 wheelers to take a 2 hour break from 4 to 6 PM, or even 7 PM, so that the rush hour traffic can squeeze through the sausage casing a little easier, and the truks wouldn’t loose any time, since they sit in the traffic for three hours anyway. But no, Lord Forbid if the Department of Transportation would talk to the Truckers organization and see if something reasonable might be worked out. Then the whole idea of the loop might get a little boost by all the people stuck in traffic among the giant trucks, while giant truck drivers spew pollution because no one asked them to take a break. Nah, reasonableness is too, well, reasonable. Let’s have a committee meeting!

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1 Comment

  1. I liked reading this. I will post this on digg. I am sure you will get some thumbs up 🙂

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