: The U.S. is a ‘build-nothing’ country, says economist, earning agreement from Elon Musk

by | Feb 28, 2023 | Stock Market

The U.S. can’t build the things it needs to flourish in the 21st century, and permitting rules and not-in-my-backyard resistance is to blame, a high-profile economist writes. Noah Smith, who has a popular Twitter account and runs the Noahpinion blog, writes that the U.S. is a “build-nothing country,” with trouble building housing, transit and semiconductors.

Smith said the latest absurdity was a plan to build student housing in Berkeley being blocked by a court, which said the university had to study whether students themselves were an environmental hazard. Housing starts still have not recovered to pre-2008 levels and have recently started to deteriorate in the face of surging mortgage rates. But the problem, Smith says, is not just limited to housing. New York’s Second Avenue subway line has become the world’s most expensive subway line, and that overuse of consultants, overly large train stations and poor coordination are driving up transit costs. Green energy projects, despite ample federal funding, have run into difficulty, which Smith blames on the difficulty in getting parts and materials from China as well as not-in-my-backyard opposition. No green projects have been built after the Inflation Reduction Act allocated $400 billion, a recent Wall Street Journal report found. NIMBY-ism as it’s called is making it difficult for new transmission lines …

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