There is much talk of a second economic “stimulus” bill that would send tens of billions of added federal tax dollars to state governments for infrastructure. Senator Obama recently promised “to put two million more Americans to work, rebuilding our crumbling roads and schools and bridges.”
Is America’s infrastructure really crumbling? Many highways are congested, but at least on the East Coast where I travel, states seem to be continually adding capacity. With schools, the pattern I see is governments building large new structures and knocking down buildings that were built only a few decades ago. When I was a kid I lived for a while in England and went to a school that was about 100 years old, which I thought was kinda cool.
Anyway, if more infrastructure than usual really is crumbling, then governments are doing something wrong because the chart shows that total state and local capital investment is actually up in recent years.
How much spending on items such as highways and airports is the correct amount? I don’t know, and neither do politicians in Washington. The way to find out is to privatize as much infrastructure as we can and let entrepreneurs raise the financing and develop the innovative solutions that they are so good at.