Subtitle: What’s a couple of TRILLION dollars among friends; if the National Government is the answer, it must be a really stupid question, Part 12!
Last Wednesday afternoon, March 31, 2021, President Obiden was in Pittsburg to premiere an outline for a major new “infrastructure initiative” to fix America’s crumbling roads, bridges and airports. After hearing his presentation, and then reading a couple of outlines of this “infrastructure” plan, I just have to wonder if Mr. Obiden even understands what “infrastructure” is? On the other hand, I just have to question the basic premise whether the National Government should be the designer and overseer of what those in the meeting announced will be a $2+ TRILLION program.
Then I was watching one of the Saturday morning business shows three days later and they were discussing a report that “more than 55,000 bridges across the US are structurally deficient”. The discussion immediately went to the idea of the “infrastructure plan” that was discussed on Wednesday. One of the panelist made the statement “Everyone knows that infrastructure is a direct responsibility of the National Government” like it was a matter of fact. Is it? I would contend that the reason why we’re in the condition of disrepair we are today is BECAUSE of the involvement of the National Government in infrastructure.
Like most things related to government, particularly the National Government, being vague about the subject is just the beginning of the ruse. Let’s look at the definition from Merriam-Webster of “infrastructure”-
1: the underlying foundation or basic framework (as of a system or organization)
2: the permanent installations required for military purposes
3: the system of public works of a country, state, or region; also: the resources (as personnel, buildings, or equipment) required for an activity
Now, I’ll ask, “What parts of ‘infrastructure’ are National Government’s responsibilities?” I would say definition #2 above is definitely a Federal responsibility. But where do you draw the lines of responsibility for definitions 1 & 3? Does anybody think that having the National Government involved improves the value, quality or efficiency of “infrastructure”? Does anybody think having the National Government involved improves the value, quality or efficiency of anything? The answer to both questions has proven to be NO. I don’t disagree that there MAY be a need for the National Government to establish some minimum standards for some infrastructure components. But the idea that the National Government needs to be actively involved in all stages of infrastructure from pre-planning to completion is just foolish. And it’s also very expensive.
Let’s examine just one piece of National Government “infrastructure management”. The US Department of Transportation came in to existence on April 1, 1967(Note: yes that is April Fools Day). In just over 50 years it has gone from not being, to now being a massive bureaucracy with almost 60,000 employees. With a 2021 requested budget well in excess of $100 billion. And the actual infusion from this new “infrastructure” plan will add billions to that number. What has happened to US infrastructure as this behemoth bureaucracy has expanded? It has consistently been disintegrating. We shouldn’t be at all surprised as this is the typical “return on investment” when the National Government gets involved. The National Government just operates at a net loss. But hey, it’s just free National tax money anyway.
There must be some benefits from the National Government being involved in “infrastructure” design and construction? You know there must be? But as I look at anything the National Government takes the lead on, it is always overly confusing or just outright dysfunctional, late and over budget. Why would it be expected that something as complex to start with as “infrastructure” can be any different? How could you question that using a formula crafted by the thousands of bureaucrats in Washington, DC, would not be the absolute best plan for every State, county and township across the Country? Well, because history is the greatest teacher. And history has proven that if the National Government, at least in its current modern form, is going to drive the bus, we need to be ready for a big bus wreck.
So, what would a good “infrastructure package” look like? The first component is that the money will be “block granted” to the States, based on population, population density and land area. With NO directive strings attached, and independent of whom the Senators or Congressmen are from any State. Next, The Davis-Bacon “Prevailing Wage” Act should be either suspended or repealed immediately to allow the project contractors to operate without dealing with a US Department of Labor anal exam. Next would be to require “fast-tracking” of Environmental Impact Studies that are related to infrastructure projects. And last, but certainly not least, end any federal planning rules and/or regulations. Then we might actually build some necessary roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
God Bless America! And America, Please Bless God Again!