Canada's infrastructure was once cheap and effective to build. Now, it's a titanic transfer from taxpayers to the world's biggest businesses and investors

Originally published at:


Either I have brain damage, or your posted article has weird cut and paste errors, with stuff missing or dropped in randomly. Please check the article and let me know if I need to get an MRI.

1 Like

However, a vital fact that Saxe and virtually everyone else either don’t know or won’t mention is that from 1938 to 1974 Canada and other western countries did in fact get very good infrastructure for very cheap.

Can we get a deeper explanation of what was cheap, why it was cheap, and how it was produced? The nearby link is broken.

There’s some broken html tags that are eating up major chunks of the article. I’m looking forward to reading it when it’s fixed, though.

1 Like

In the US, just look at the Army Corps of Engineers…which really is a misnomer…it should be called the Army Corps of Project Managers.

1 Like

Politicians never learn, free money ain’t free, especially from Big Biz…


Highway 407 is a notorious example:


Canada’s infrastructure was once cheap and effective to build.

Thank goodness the Canadian transcontinental railway was cheap to build, and had no financial irregularities or scandal! :wink:


Ask probing questions about this your politicians, or you may well regret not speaking up.

Wise words indeed from Mr. Doctorow!
Wise words indeed…

As someone with a socialist bent [I think that’s a fair observation], it’s kind of ironic to see Mr. Doctorow commenting on the cost side of the equation resulting “in a titanic transfer from taxpayers to the world’s biggest businesses and investors”.

Still, I’m glad he’s pressing the issue and advocating for taxpayers.

This problem is not just endemic to Canada…look stateside too.

Take a look at Illinois state government pensions. In the “Land of Lincoln” there is also “a titanic transfer from taxpayers”, but it’s to pensioners. And like Canadian taxpayers, Illinois taxpayers are being drained dry. Local governments are struggling to meet their basic obligations because of pension payments. Some people are even calling it “a generational transfer of wealth”.

In California with horrific homelessness, yet CALPERS sits on billions of dollars. Another “titanic transfer from taxpayers”.

At the Federal level, where Solyndra soaked taxpayers for $500,000,000+.

Ask probing questions about this your politicians, or you may well regret not speaking up.

Yes, exceptionally wise words! :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

@Robert_Tervin: It appears that the post is by Rosemary Frei, and Cory only wrote an intro.

1 Like

Given how this stuff normally goes, I’ll take a stab at it.
When western countries were capable of creating good infrastructure: Government needs infrastructure project done. Government pays for the work to be done by people who are working on this project.

Now: Government needs a project done. It opens a call for contractors. These contractors through a mixture of lobbying and lying about how much the project will cost convince the government to select them. The contractors may then hire subcontractors and every link in the chain adds extra cost for the ‘profit margin’ that wouldn’t exist if for-profit entities weren’t involved. Then the budget starts to overrun and the news gets around, but the sunk cost fallacy kicks in and so good money is just poured in after bad because at some point people decided that for-profit entities were more ‘efficient’. Rarely if ever are the contractors or subcontractors held responsible or made to pay for their massive overspending of the budget they were allowed, and even then they cheap out on materials and labor such that the project takes longer than it should and the quality at the end is substandard.

At least that’s how it works here in the US :grin:


Yes, lots of scandals, mainly in funny financing (some even argue that Confederation was agreed on in order to finance the railway in London) and huge giveaways of land to the CPR. But note that the major beneficiaries were private investors.

1 Like

The Ontario government is spending $26 billion to refurbish some of its nuclear facilities.

Meanwhile, it could buy cheap electricity for at least a decade from Quebec’s oversupply of hydro.
But Liberal and Conservative governments (and the NDP through hydro unions) are tied to the heavily subsidized nuclear industry.

1 Like

@orenwolf, can you get a message to the editors as it seems like formatting/contents are Borked?

Hm? Where?

Ah, that sums up this fiasco:

1 Like

Oh, I think they’re learning new ways to profit from their constituents. After all, lobbyists have probably been directed to push this as a way to double-dip. Campaign contributions influence pols to sell taxpayers on ways public/private partnerships save money. Whether the project is successful or not, there are kickbacks. When projects don’t work out (for the public), taxes go up. Sometimes, management of institutions becomes a revolving door between private and public control whenever performance doesn’t meet expectations (schools and prisons, for example). Roads, bridges, and rails are just the latest target.

I’m sure the organizations behind the borrowing (for the projects and taxpayers who can’t afford increases without a loan), private management, auditing, and the eventual lawsuits are happy to profit from this. After all, they’re running out of turnips to squeeze:

Not sure exactly, it just seemed like sections were missing up top. It made a lot more sense further down, so I don’t think it was the writing style. one commenter mentioned it seemed like a copy pasta error. Other commenters remarked on broken links but I have not tried to follow any. Hope that helps… J

Great points lasagesse!

Hi I’m not that used to using HTML so when I first submitted the article and Cory posted it some of the texts dropped out cuz I’d used ‘curly quotes’ instead of " around the HTML info to put in the hyperlinks. Also there were some other, more minor, things that needed to be fixed (I wrote the article pretty quickly). It’s all working now. There are some things I could smooth out in the article but at this stage it’s not necessary. For sure I’ll be writing more about this topic, as will/are others.