Thursday, August 9, 2007

No Ribbon-Cutting Ceremonies for Pothole Repair

When the bridge across the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota collapsed on August 3, killing seven and wounding a hundred others, the commentators lamented the poor state of our infrastructure and reported the need for millions and millions of dollars to be allocated for repair of crumbling infrastructure. No doubt we do have worn out infrastructure and money does need to be spent on upkeep. But, the problem may not be insufficient taxation.

Apparently we are still to the right of the apex of the Laffer curve and more taxation may actually bring in less revenue. Democrats and a lot of the public have a hard time grasping the concept that higher tax rates may actually bring in less revenue, but it has been proven true time after time. The problem with infrastructure upkeep is not a problem of lack of taxation, but of allocation. The truth is government does a poor job of managing it’s investments.

Mr. Thomas Sowell makes the simple but wise observations that, “The real problem is that the political incentives are to spend the taxpayers' money on things that will enhance politicians' chances of getting re-elected.” “There are no ribbon-cutting ceremonies when bridges are being repaired or pot-holes are being filled in. These latter activities may be more valuable than a community center or a golf course, but they are not nearly as photogenic.” In A Bridge too Far Gone, Mr. Sowell goes on to explain why private industry is better at maintenance of their investments than government.

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