In the LA Times today, Jonah Goldberg defends conservatives against those who blame them for holding up infrastructure improvements.
Goldberg says we just don’t build things the way we used to for a number of reasons — among them, low tolerance for deaths on the job and environmental regulations.
Much of the liberal intelligentsia is awash with nostalgia for the days when government got big things done. Economist Paul Krugman, who subscribes to the Keynesian fantasy that spending just a bit more money than is ever fiscally or politically possible is the answer to all of our woes, is beside himself that Christie won’t pay whatever it costs to make Krugman’s commute easier.
Failure to indulge these building sprees is routinely blamed on the right’s anti-government ideological dogmatism. The irony is that there’s not that much ideological opposition to worthwhile public works projects. There’s some, but most objections are much more consistent with the old-fashioned country-club-style fiscal conservatism everyone claims to miss. The white elephants are just too expensive to build, and they often seem to be aimed at disguising wealth distribution, either to favored unions or to favored donors.
Do you agree with Goldberg here?
I suppose even worthwhile public-works projects are like anything else — wrapped in special interests, taxpayers’ money, and agendas. There’s also an element of drama to the white elephants he refers to: Rebuilding the World Trade Center captures the public’s imagination; fixing ugly bridges and tunnels does not.