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Obama Transportation Secretary: Democracy is good and everything, but China’s authoritarian system is more effective when it comes to building infrastructure

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By Doug Powers  •  July 7, 2012 12:39 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

“Sure, there are the forced abortions, labor camps and an abysmal human rights record, but damn they really can lay down the rail!”

From The Cable:

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.”

I don’t know what he’s whining about. When it comes to getting the “infrastructure” projects he and the administration have been after, Ray LaHood’s hands have never appeared to be tied.

At that point, though, LaHood’s slight walk-back began. When somebody on the left has pipe dreams of a country where only three people have unchecked authoritarian control, on occasion his or her internal monologue will interrupt with a question that stops them in their tracks: “What if those three people are Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint?”:

LaHood said that despite this, democracy is still preferable. “We have the best system of government anywhere on the planet. It is the best. Because the people have their say,” he said.

A couple of closing points. First, LaHood assumes too much when it comes to the integrity and quality of China’s rail system. Secondly, if he wants to know part of the reason some projects are being held up, he should walk down the street and have a chat with the people who run the slew of regulatory agencies in this country — many of which are expanding with this administration’s blessing.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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