06 July 2010

Infra

Coyote Blog | Warren Meyer | Infrastructure? Did We Say Infrastructure? We Meant “Government Employee Pay Maintenance”

Remember when the stimulus bill was all about “infrastructure” and “green energy?” Way back in January of 2009 (sorry I am in I-told-you-so mode) I observed how less than 6% of the first two years spending appeared to be related to infrastructure. It turns out that this is exactly how it played out
According to Recovery.gov, the government has now paid out $415 billion of the stimulus funds. Tax rebates account for $163 billion. Of the $252 of direct spending, the Department of Transportation has paid out $14 billion. That’s 5.5%.
What kills me is that this was not just cranky libertarians like Coyote and myself (and many others, of course) predicting that very little of the money would go to the stated goal of infrastructure based on our political ideologies. It wasn't even us predicting this based on what we've observed in the past when it comes to government spending and what we know about public choice theory. It wasn't even us predicting this based on well documents facts about the federal procurement process and civil engineering. This wasn't a prediction at all.

It was right there in the legislation for everyone to see, plain as day. This isn't a plan going awry, or unintended consequences, or the result of after-the-fact meddling by "special interests." This was the plan all along. Lots of money to make sure state spending ratchets up and never down, a big chunk for tax rebates, a large pile for miscellaneous bureaucrat salaries, and a little sliver for infrastructure.  There is no way anyone can be surprised by this unless they thought politicians sound bites would better reflect reality than would the actual legislation those politicians were passing.

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