Archive for February, 2011

(Photo of me riding the Shinkansen {bullet train} in Japan)

I had previously posted this rant to Facebook and Twitter.  I also sent it to my state representatives and to U.S. representatives in Congress.  Enjoy.

To the Honorable [fill in with respective representative];

I am a registered NPA voter in Florida, and am a practicing Civil Engineer (FL License No. 69825). I would like to briefly state my support of the high speed rail initiative, and the boost to our Florida economy from its design and construction. I hope that enough support can be centralized to make high speed rail, commuter rail and other mass transit initiatives a reality in Florida.

Below is an excerpt from a Facebook post I made and sent out via Twitter, as well. Social media is fast becoming a primary mode of communication for many. It is lengthy and snarky in nature, as it is a passionate rant. But it embodies my support of mass transit initiatives, particularly high speed rail, in Florida, as well as along the East Coast of the United States (for the sake of our broader regional economy).

Re: In response to those opposed to said high speed rail. Copied from a comment I recently made. My longest Facebook post. Ever.


Here’s some input from a Civil Engineer. Most of the Tampa Bay area highways operate at a Level of Service = D, E and F, meaning they are near, at or over the design capacity. Many of these highways no longer have right-of-way to play with, so that means that no more lanes can be added. The time to build infrastructure is when you don’t need it yet, because when you need it, it is already too late. What will happen when you can’t build more roads? I guess they’ll have to exercise eminent domain and buy your property.

I believe in a small government. One of the things that this utopian small government should provide is an efficient, safe transportation system. That is, unless you want all roads to be tolled. For the love of Bob, do you know how much Federal money that Florida receives to keep the highway system running? Have you noticed all the recent road improvements? That is Federal spending. Know what? That’s kept many people employed for a couple years. Know what else? That highspeed rail would have kept many employed for several years. How many years do people stay at the same job? What, several years? Yeah, I think that would have been just fine.

I’m not just talking about construction workers. You would have had architects, engineers, accountants, restauranteurs, etc. bouyed up by this highspeed rail project. I know folks that were part of the project and were going to be part of future phases. My company was hoping to get a slice of the pie, as well. We’ll just move on, but I use this as an example for the temporary employment argument – what the krikey do you think construction projects are??? They’re temporary by nature. You build it and go to the next project. Highspeed rail just happens to be a very large project that would have generated revenue for many local workers. Know what’s sad? Florida lacks the expertise to build and operate our own high speed rail from scratch. USA number one? Pathetic.

We’ve lagged enough. It’s time to lead the world again, unless we’re okay being relegated to Old World status. I’m sure the Fat Cats don’t mind.

One more thing. There is something called the Transportatin Trust Fund.  Know what? It usually has a surplus. Know what else? Florida has been raiding it to pay for the budget shortfalls. I’m going to repeat what it’s called again, the T R A N S P O R T A T I O N TRUST FUND. Planes, trains and automobiles. Not government pensions, healthcare, parks, welfare, whatever. As I see it, those things that were receiving funding from the transportation trust fund should be looked at first to see what needs cut from the budget. If the Trust wasn’t raided, well, maybe that surplus could have paid for the balance of funds that was needed for high speed rail.

As for operating costs, the roads that you drive on do not generate revenue – there’s no “breakeven” scenario. Why think of rail differently? You pay a road “toll” at the pump. You could easily add another “toll” at the pump for rail, as an impact fee. Well, really, you would just have to subsidize roads less, so we feel the real cost of highway maintenance. Anyone know about PPPs (Public Private Partnerships)? I hear Vietnam does quite a few of these. Seems to be mutually beneficial. The US does these, as well. But I guess not Florida when it comes to new, innovative and exciting projects. I think it would have been another draw for tourists (one of our biggest revenue generators). What, the first high speed rail in the US?? Gorgeous beaches?? Pack your bags for vacation! On a side note, we actually semi-planned a trip in Japan around their high speed rail line. Yeah, I think the same would be applicable in Florida. Who wants to drive from Orlando to Tampa to Miami? Awful. Who wants to wait around airport terminals for 2 hours for 1 hour flights to these same cities? I think we can do better with high speed rail for these intermediate length trips. It’s what it’s designed for! Trips that are too long for cars, and too short for planes.

Hopefully commuter rail isn’t dead. We can make it work here with remote parking garages connected to rail stations. That is both a different issue and a similar animal. You need to tie in commuter and high speed rail to make your intermodal transportation system work best.

Or you know what, maybe we should all just start walking everywhere.  That would help take care of the obesity problem.

End of Janosik rant.

Personal disclosure: I am registered “No Party Affiliation”. I’ve voted D, R, I, NPA and G in the past, and would vote L if they would get their act together. I want what is best for Florida, and for our nation. If you can provide a spreadsheet that shows me how high speed rail would be detrimental to Florida’s economy, please send it to me.  But please provide all assumptions.

(Public Domain Photo by:

In response to all the varied discussions regarding income inequality:

This is the actual U.S. pre-tax income distribution for individuals (not families or households – there’s a huge difference) taken from the U.S. Census Bureau. I plotted the chart on a logarithmic scale to better show the attenuated distribution characteristics (typically descreasing number of individual earners as income increases). The dashed line represents a best fit curve for the data, which would reflect a smooth logarithmic distribution of income per population in a perfect world (you wouldn’t want 1 CEO for every receptionist – we wouldn’t be able to afford anything – and why be a CEO if you only earn as much as a receptionist).

Strictly mathematically speaking, if your income is below the yellow dashed line, then you should be earning more to maintain a smooth distribution. Above the yellow dashed line, and you should be earning less to make the distribution curve smooth. The data show some skew at and over the $100k range. The high percentage of no income earners is misleading, since it includes anyone over age 15. I couldn’t find the raw data from the Census Bureau for those age 18 and over.

Again, this is pre-tax income. A progressive tax policy could consider targeting tax rates to provide a smoother distribution curve. This is only one slice of data. Take it for what it’s worth. In my opinion, it shows a fairly good distribution, with only slight skew at the upper range. It’s also unfortunate that the Census didn’t provide a better breakdown above $250k. I’d like to see that data to incorporate into my Excel tables.

The lower chart is normalized to better compare the highest incomes with the lowest.  This better shows where the income skew is.  Really not so bad, in my opinion.  Now, what we actually value as a society (translated as what we award the greatest income) is certainly skewed.  This is the major issue, not the actual income distribution.

I am Janosik.

Hear my thoughts.

(after I finish making the layout a little better)

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