The Locker Room

Another good Reason piece on federal bailouts

Posted by John Hood at 10:23 AM

In the same issue of Privatization Watch I mentioned earlier, longtime JLF pals Sam Staley and Adrian Moore have a piece that is well worth your attention. It questions the economic value of the infrastructure component of the federal “stimulus” bill (a component that was a relatively small part of the bill to start with). As is often the case, Keynesians and other leftists like to deal in broad categories and aggregates rather than in specifics. Obviously, some infrastructure projects are valuable, in that they alleviate bottlenecks or create new opportunities for investment or entrepreneuership. But other projects do little but waste dollars that could have been more-productively employed elsewhere.

Focusing tax dollars on high-value infrastructure investment means accepting reality as it is, rather than dreaming up enviro-wacko flights of fancy. For example, they write:

The highway and road system must meet the needs of a globally competitive, dynamic, services-based economy. Today approximately 80 percent of all goods, by value, are shipped by truck in this country. Only 15 percent of travel on our nation’s roads is traditional commuting, and 97 percent of our total travel is by automobile. Americans don’t just get up and go to work. We combine and “chain” our trips to include errands, non-office business, personal appointments, and to meet friends for coffee or happy hour. Our demand for flexible and adaptable models of transportation, primarily the car, has skyrocketed, placing unprecedented demands on the transportation system. At the same time our investment in the network has languished. Travel demand on our roads has outstripped additions to capacity by 3-to-1 over the last three decades.

Remember, by the way, that transportation is primarily a private industry, not a government monopoly, when all its components are properly accounted for. For more details on North Carolina‘s transportation needs, click here and here.

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