Bridge Collapse Falsely Blamed on Low Taxes by Europeans

A Dutch friend of a CEI staffer passed on the fact that some Dutch and German newspapers today are filled with hateful comments online about yesterday’s bridge collapse in Minneapolis. “I just checked two Dutch news papers and people can leave comments… and it sickened me at times. People are so uninformed or simple minded that they leave comments like ‘that happens if you don’t pay tax'” and “‘You spent all that money on the war but not your own people.'”

The irony is that Minnesota, in which the bridge collapse occurred, has some of the highest state and local taxes in the country.

There isn’t much correlation between bridge and road quality and levels of state taxation. South Carolina has much lower taxes than New York State, and its roads and bridges are in a much better state of repair. Roads in much of New York State are full of cracks, while South Carolina roads tend to be smooth and even-surfaced.

Part of the reason for bad infrastructure is that the word “investment” is now used by big-spending government officials to describe all manner of government programs, rather than true investments like roads and bridges.

It is now a common political ploy to refer to increases in government medical and education spending as “investments” even though increased K-12 educational spending has virtually no effect on, and no correlation with, student learning (there is a strong correlation, in contrast, between a state’s proximity to the Canadian border and how well its students perform in math), and increased medical spending just improves the financial situation of the beneficiaries of the spending, and has virtually no effect on life expectancy. (New York State spends twice as much on health care, per capita, as California, without providing better health care, much less increased life spans).

By falsely referring to the welfare state as an “investment,” advocates of big government have made it easier to divert to welfare and social services government funds that should have been invested in roads and bridges instead.

The result is that transportation has been on a steady downward spiral as part of state budgets, while state health-care spending has exploded, and teacher pay is at an all-time high in inflation-adjusted terms. (Average teacher pay in my county is over $70,000 in base pay for a 10-month school year).