TRIP Boosts Their Lies 109% to Get Your Vote
The proponents of Proposal 1 never envisaged the losing position they now occupy two weeks before the vote, so their media shills have resurrected the titillating lies projections of a road builders’ organization called TRIP to bolster their case. Here are the most visceral quotes from Michigan’s two largest newspapers, demonstrating their well-honed propaganda skills:
“Michigan’s poor roads threaten to derail its economic recovery, according to a new report by a national transportation research group.”
“The report says that 38% of Michigan roads are now in poor condition, up from 23% in 2006. It also found that 45% were listed in fair condition and 17% were listed as good.”
“The report estimates that Michigan motorists pay an average of $686 in increased operating costs, including vehicle repairs, because of the state’s poor roads.”
“By 2025, the share of major roads in poor condition is projected to increase to 53 percent,” TRIP said in its report. “Keeping roads in good condition by performing minor maintenance is far more cost-effective than waiting until roads are in fair or poor condition when it becomes far more costly to make needed repairs.”
“According to TRIP, driving on rough roads costs Michigan motorists a total of $4.8 billion each year in the form of extra vehicle operating costs, representing an average cost of $686 annually per motorist.”
”That’s the conclusion of a report released Monday by TRIP, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that researches, evaluates and distributes information on surface transportation issues.
The Detroit Free Press only identified TRIP as “a national nonprofit transportation research group” in this pivotal story. They were a little more candid in a previous story, so they can’t claim not to know what TRIP is. The Detroit News identification of TRIP was every bit as dishonest. Only our ‘newer’ media is more truthful, if still not entirely accurate:
“The annual TRIP study, conducted by a national research group funded by transportation industry interests, pegs the yearly cost at $686 per Michigan motorist.”
“TRIP findings have long been cited by road funding advocates, including Gov. Rick Snyder.”
TRIP obligingly released a raft of new lies in a series of press releases on Michigan roads at the Detroit Regional Chamber (a kindred IRS 501(c)(6) organization, more on this below the fold) on Monday. These stories are an update to TRIP’s January 2014 lies which we covered in January. The comparable examples of TRIP’s 2014 lies (since removed from the web) are:
- An inadequate transportation system costs Michigan residents a total of $7.7 billion every year
- Driving on rough roads costs Michigan motorists a total of $2.3 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs
- Driving on rough roads costs the average Detroit urban area motorist $536 annually in extra vehicle operating costs
- Driving on rough roads costs the average Michigan motorist $357 annually in extra vehicle operating costs
TRIP’s 2015 report on Michigan annual excessive vehicle costs is a $ 2.5 billion (or $ 329 per motorist) increase above their 2014 lies projections. A 109% increase above their 2014 lies. Far beyond any assessment of the 2014 to 2015 deterioration of road & bridge conditions in Michigan – even the totally bogus PASER ratings. Since the $ 2.3 billion (or $ 357 per motorist) 2014 TRIP number didn’t move you to vote for Proposal 1, the new and improved $ 4.8 billion (or $ 686 per motorist) lie is expected to change your mind on Proposal 1. They think you are that dumb.
So is TRIP a “nonprofit transportation research organization”? Sounds like an independent, credible source – right? Do the adjectives ‘nonprofit’ and ‘research’ give you a high level of confidence in their pronouncements? Does ‘organization’ or ‘group’ give you the impression that hundreds of researchers are assessing road conditions across the country? Perhaps you should dig a little deeper than our lazy, lying media scribes.
Who is TRIP?
TRIP is an empty front for a five person IRS 501(c)(6) category business organization in Washington, DC more properly known as Road Information Program, Incorporated. The IRS category is important in this case because legitimate nonprofit public research organizations register under IRS chapter 501(c)(3). IRS chapter 501(c)(6) is reserved for ‘business leagues’, such as chambers of commerce or realtor associations: “Encouragement of the use of goods and services of an entire industry” in the IRS lingo on page 50 of IRS Publication 557.
All nonprofits are required to file an IRS Form 990 annually, describing their finances and major backers. The TRIP 2013 IRS Form 990 (latest available) was actually filed under the Road Information Program, Inc. name and makes for some interesting reading. RIP had a budget just under $ 1 million in 2013, of which they spent just $ 267,667 on their ‘researchers’ wages. Not much money to accurately assess road conditions across the entire USA. TRIP would set a new standard for efficiency in Washington, DC were it actually researching road conditions in every American state for that modest expenditure.
RIP has 115 voting members in its ‘governing body’, about a hundred of whom are listed on two pages at the end of their Form 990 filing, between pages 33 and 34. Four insurers and one business communications company, but the rest are road construction contractors, contractor associations, paving equipment manufacturers & rental firms, pavement material suppliers, and civil engineering firms. You get the picture, we’re not talking public interest here.
Those TRIP Vehicle Operating Cost Factoids
TRIP has generated cookie cutter reports for each of the 50 States with the very same metrics. They are using a computer program called HDM-4 which is being circulated around the globe by the World Bank. It is a very useful pavement management system program coauthored by Dr. Christopher Bennett in New Zealand [www.lpcb.org – strange mixed business/personal website, but the best collection of HDM-4 information – including an actual download mirror for the HDM-4 software package].
When it comes to the vehicle operating costs section of the HDM-4 program, Dr. Bennett is adamant that the accuracy of its results are entirely dependent upon calibration. Small changes in calibration coefficients can result in four fold errors in the program’s vehicle maintenance calculations. A Bennett HDM-4 Calibration Presentation reviews a Canadian HDM-4 vehicle operating cost example showing just that. Data mean little in a scientific computer algorithm, calibration coefficients dominate the outcome. Much the same type of coefficient gaming is done in the computer models which are used to demonstrate ‘global warming’. So it really wasn’t much of a challenge for TRIP to dial up a 109% increase when it was needed politically.
Here we have old school propagandists at Michigan’s two largest newspapers palming off a self-serving contractor’s organization as a “nonprofit, transportation research organization”. Back in the 1980’s, when I worked in the USSR, the Russian public believed the only truth printed in their newspapers was that day’s date. Perhaps Michigan readers should hold our two Detroit papers in equal contempt. When it is serious, they will lie.
- “When It Becomes Serious, You Have To Lie” is the most famous quotation from Jean-Claude Juncker, the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg. A consummate Eurocrat, he let slip the creed of bureaucrats around the world as Europe’s financial system cratered in 2011.