Infrastructure Pork versus Infrastructure Investment: In Washington, There is No Difference

The labor theory of value still survives — at least in politics. Both Democrats and Republicans still believe that “government must create jobs,” and if you can reward your green constituencies and gain some political clout in the process, that is simply gravy.

There has been no discussion of the opportunity the economic crisis provides to rethink infrastructure — to bring an element of market discipline into the political jungle. Instead, we get the creation of a still larger pork-barrel bureaucracy designed to build more bridges to nowhere, more fragmented slivers of roads and railroads built where they will offend no one — such as the Central Valley of California. Even “public-private” partnerships would be more creative.

When individuals and firms go bankrupt, they sell assets, they don’t ploy more money into things they’ve failed to manage well. That is not how government works.

The Greens talk of “sustainable” development. Well, consider the last two stimuli — whatever was achieved was certainly “not” sustainable. Only market-driven investments can create wealth. Government can only redistribute wealth. Whatever one’s views on the ethics of that course, it is foolish to think that moving chairs around the table politically creates new wealth. Do even the Greens want more wind power and ethanol boondoggles?

Yet, one can imagine many in business taking this bait and supporting a “jobs bill” — which would also have the enthusiastic support of unions. That is a political bridge to nowhere.

Republicans have yet to articulate a Liberate to Stimulate pro-growth agenda — one based on moving the regulatory rocks, not building special-interest bridges over them.

Washington — don’t you love it?!