Sunday, February 23, 2014

Infrastructure Spending No Silver Bullet

To the many who see government spending on infrastructure as a silver bullet for the economy and as a job creator I would like to raise a word of caution, It may be time for a "truth off'. More "bridges to nowhere" and wasted spending exist then the taxpayer could ever imagine. Often this spending falls short of creating real wealth for our country. In my book Advancing Time, I talk about a bridge that was recently replaced in Fort Wayne, Indiana that even the city's leading newspaper said we did not need. The newspaper had gone on to state the bridge did not "need" to be replaced, but only needed minor repairs. Here is a paragraph from the book:
Another pork-barrel project that drains federal coffers? 
If we think local media is helping guide government to do the right thing, we should be troubled. In the city where I live a recent Sunday newspaper editorial commented about the cost of a bridge project, that will be covered by an earmark from Senator Even Bayh. The article states "Does the four million dollars represent yet another pork-barrel project that drains federal coffers? Most likely. But once the money is designated, it would be foolish to give it back."

Bottom line, nothing has changed over the last several years that indicates the media, government, or planners have become better and far more responsible in how infrastructure money is spent. More telling is a look at the bridge recently completed. In the end, the bridge final cost was closer to ten million dollars, and it now sports the name "The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge". After the bridge was structurally complete the plans called for the builder to come back and top it off with a million dollar plus metal structure that gloriously lights up at night. This was all too present a show of changing colors at night making it a landmark with "wow" affect.

This bridge now has a new role, to act as a gateway into downtown. A huge ugly sign over the bridge,  large monuments on each side of the approaching end, plus large plaques along the spacious sidewalks are few of its features. The so far unmentioned and most wasteful use of taxpayer money would be the benches that line both sides of the bridge, why do you need twelve foot wide sidewalks sporting benches on a bridge? I estimate that considering the expensive real estate they sit on these benches came at a finished cost of  one hundred thousand dollars each to the taxpayer.

If you think this kind of mindless infrastructure spending will help America, it might be because the media, many politicians, and the businesses that benefit from it are constantly telling you of its virtues. A "Truth Off" would show that infrastructure is not even close to being a silver bullet, and America is not an uncompetitive third world country. Sure this kind of spending creates jobs, but at a horrible cost that must be paid at a future date or eventually bankrupt the country. The grandiose planners and politicians love free money, unfortunately, there is no such thing. And truth be told, the jobs created are often short lived. This is not a fix for the structural and employment problems plaguing America.

Footnote; this goes hand in hand with another article that focuses on ways the government has grown and worked its way into every facet of our daily lives. The link is below,

1 comment:

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