A lesson from Europe for rail advocates in Pinellas

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Picking up on the ongoing debate about whether to build light rail in Pinellas, I ask advocates of such a program if building infrastructure is the key to economic development, why doesn’t that work in Europe?

Some of the most troubled economies in Europe are chok full of rail and infrastructure designed by the government to foster economic development yet:

“If building great roads and trains were the route to lasting prosperity, Greece and Spain would be booming. The past 30 years have seen a huge splurge in infrastructure spending, often funded by the EU. The Athens metro is excellent. The AVE fast-trains in Spain are a marvel. But this kind of spending has done very little to change the fundamental problems that now plague both Greece and Spain – in particular, youth unemployment. Worse, in some ways, EU funding for infrastructure has created problems. In Greece, milking the EU for subsidies became an industry in itself: and political connections were a surer route to wealth than entrepreneurial flair.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.