Wednesday, March 13, 2013

On the road again

I've been tearing up the Oklahoma interstates and toll ways the past several days. In one business-week's time, last Friday through Thursday tomorrow, I will have traveled over 1,000 for work. All of it driving having taken me southwest, north, northeast and finally southeast.

Besides the $.55 per mile reimbursement, the windshield time has enabled me to catch up with many of my podcast backlog. Especially helpful is Downcast's feature allowing 1.5x playback speed.

Two of the podcasts I listened to over this stretch along (Robert Pool on How to Build Infrastructure During an Age of Sequester from ReasonTV and Freakonomics Radio on The Downside of More Miles Per Gallon) with catching up with the latest installment of Chunka Mui's analysis and prognostications about Google's driverless car led me to do some predicting of my own.

In 30 years we will want to privatize and it will seem as obvious to privatize the roads as we want today to privatize and it seems obvious to privatize the US Postal Service. This applies to all roads from interstate highways to major metro arteries to lesser used neighborhood and rural roads. The impetus and obviousness of privatization as the natural solution decreases as we go down that list. Yet I predict that will indeed be the majority opinion held by those who seriously and objectively consider the situation. There will be strong doubters. It will probably prove to be a politically incorrect position. There will be entrenched special interests.

That is all to say that in 30 years we will be about 5-10 years away from road privatization -yes, that is indeed a prediction about the USPS today as well.

I have 80% confidence in all these predictions. I give a 75% probability that in 10 years the USPS will be gone or very largely gone as we know it today. I'll give the same probability about public roads (funding, maintenance, ownership, etc.) for the year 2053. Check back then . . .