Opportunity Cost

From New York City Councilman James Genarro's web site:

Gennaro has received numerous accolades for his work as Chairman of the Council's Committee on Environmental Protection, and has authored many of the Council's most progressive environmental bills. Gennaro has spearheaded efforts to cut the city's global warming pollution emissions,... put more "clean air" vehicles on city streets, ...make the city's electricity more reliable, clean, and affordable,... and promote "green buildings".

Thinking about the public and private resources invested in these efforts, I wonder how many snow plows they would have paid for.


  1. caseyboy:

    They wouldn't have bought snowplows anyway. Don't you know its getting warmer and they won't need snowplows.

  2. Mesa Econoguy:

    Having snowplows is fine, as long as you have bloated overpaid union labor to staff them.

  3. Bob Smith:

    What's an extra $100k/bus for CNG (vs diesel) when it's not your own money you're spending?

  4. perlhaqr:

    Bob: Is that the difference in purchase price for the alternate plumbing? The fuel cost over the lifetime of the vehicle?

    Do they even have busses in NYC? I thought that's what the subway was for.

  5. Bob Smith:

    No, that's just the cost of buying the vehicle. Fuel and maintenance is extra (diesels last longer than CNG engines). CNG buses need super-high pressure fuel systems, a big and heavy tank on top, and new engines. Don't forget the cost of fueling stations for the new buses too. The new design, plus the fact that only government buys them, is responsible for the extra cost. I was mostly responding to the idiocy of "clean air vehicles", as if that were cost free, and more to the point, as if you could measure the trivial difference in air quality in a city of 10 million people. It's like the catalytic converters motorcycles have to have now. If every motorcycle in the US disappeared you couldn't measure it with current technology, so why bother?

    I'm also at a loss as to how "green" is going to make electricity more reliable or affordable. Just look at what's happening in Scotland, their fancy new wind turbines are freezing up just when electricity demand is spiking for the winter. They've been forced by buy electricity from France's nuclear grid.

  6. ZH:

    I am probably one of the few, if not the only regular reader of this blog who actually lives in Genarro's district and while I do not care for all environmentally friendly bus stuff, it now appears that much, if not most of the issues with snow removal in NYC were actually due union leaders angry over recent firings and freezes on raises asking the workers to deliberately slow snow removal both to put pressure on the city to remove budget cuts and to milk the city for extra overtime pay. I know more than one person who actually saw trucks raise their plows while going over certain streets, and another person I know works across the street from a sanitation department depot and saw trucks pull in at 4 PM and then saw the workers hanging around for 2-3 hours before another shift finally got in the trucks and took them out. The city had more than enough trucks to handle similar amounts of snow in recent years, and the budget cuts did not hit the number of trucks, and there were more than enough workers left to handle the trucks. This was either unpreparedness on the part of the city of sabotage on the part of the union, but it was not directly affected by the city's buying of environmentally friendly buses. Indirectly maybe, since if the city did not waste money on green buses and buildings, there might not have been such severe sanitation department cuts, but the sanitation department has been overstaffed and overpaid for a long time now. From what I have heard from people (including a cousin who works on the management end of the sanitation department) it is not uncommon for sanitation workers in NYC to work only the mornings doing garbage pickup, earning over $60k not including overtime or snow removal pay after only five years and then take on a second job in the afternoon.

  7. MJ:

    Indirectly maybe, since if the city did not waste money on green buses and buildings, there might not have been such severe sanitation department cuts...

    That is the point about opportunity cost.

  8. ZH:

    Yes this is an opportunity cost. But the argument the blog post was discussing is the opportunity cost relative to the money being spent on snowplows. My point is that the issue in this particular case was not the number of snowplows but rather the union implementing a work slowdown and that even though the money could have been used to prevent the budget cuts that precipitated the slowdown, NYC should have made these cuts long ago since the sanitation department had long been overpaid, overstaffed and underworked.