A Political Blog Shows Us That They Don’t Understand Government

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If I asked someone to tell me they don’t understand the NEVI program without saying they don’t understand the NEVI program, this post at National Review Online would be a very good answer. Entitled “How Long Does It Take the Federal Government to Build One Electric-Vehicle Charger?”, the piece entertains the blog’s audience with a tale that seems to prove that the Biden Administration is too stupid to build stuff fast.

But, to believe this, you’d have to not only not understand how government works, but also not understand the NEVI program (the part of the Infrastructure Law that pays for the EV charging stations), and you’d have to not understand the construction industry.

Let’s start with government. The government itself almost never builds anything. There are exceptions, but in nearly all cases, governments at all levels hire contractors to build things. So, it’s not like Biden was given a simple job to do and is too busy attending drag shows in a bunker under a pizza place to get around to it. It simply doesn’t work that way.

But, the NEVI program is even more complicated. Instead of having the federal government hire contractors, the funds are going to state governments for them to hire contractors. This added a lot of time to the overall process, but leaves state departments of transportation to bid the jobs out.

If conservative state governments were massively more competent than the Biden Administration, then they should have it done by now, right? The fact is, planning EV charging requirements, locations, and all of the other details is a time consuming process, no matter how with it a state is. Some states are faster than others, but nobody has gotten that far in the process yet.

Once a state gets sites selected, chooses the bidders, and disburses the funds, there’s still a lot of work to do. The contractor needs to order the chargers and other supplies, prepare the site, install the equipment, get it inspected multiple times, get the power company to install the transformer and meter, and then do some more testing to make sure it’s all good to go. Things can and do go wrong at every step, but even if all goes perfect, this is often a year-long process.

Between all of this, it should be no surprise that things are taking so long. After all, blue and red states alike were given Dieselgate money half a decade ago, and there are still stations under construction from that. If that program took years, why would this one be any different? Hell, even Trump’s border wall, a program by and for Republicans, couldn’t get done before Biden got into office.

For people who love to tell us about the Roman Empire and the supposed causes for its demise, they should be familiar with the phrase “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Nothing worth doing can happen quickly, no matter how competent and with it a federal or state government and its contractors are.

Featured image by Jennifer Sensiba.


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