Saturday, February 05, 2011

Of Course We Did, and So Did Everyone Else

The Arkansas Times asks if the state squandered it's share of the "federal stimulus money". Of course we did. Everyone did. That's what people do with "free" money from others. They don't spend it as wisely as they would their own. Even if they wanted to, they would not spend it as efficiently as the market because none of us are as smart as all of us. When government puts it's thumb on the scales, it leads to a misallocation of resources.

Their complaint was that the money was used for new road construction rather than maintenance of existing infrastructure and mass transit. I am with them on the first point. Our Highway Commission system is horribly flawed, is holding Arkansas back, and ought to be scrapped. One thing it does wrong is set up a situation where each commissioner wants his or her pet projects to go through before their term expires. That leads to a situation that favors new construction over much needed maintenance. They system promotes building new roads when we can't even take care of all of the ones we have now.

On the second point I find myself relieved to be back in disagreement with the extreme leftists over at the Arktimes. The government seems determined to subsidize mass transit at the expense of people owning their own vehicles. Why not let the market determine the mix of mass transit vs. private conveyance? I see a tendency to want to herd people into cities at the expense of rural areas, and herd people into mass transit where they are completely dependent on others for mobility rather than free to travel as they please.

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