Stimulating infrastructure

A NYT column by Robert H. Frank makes a very coherent and logical argument for an additional stimulus to build and repair our crumbling infrastructure.  He says:

“… Now, those stimulus payouts are waning, and are being offset by spending cuts by state and local governments. As a result, a fragile economic recovery is faltering.

Many policy economists from both major political parties agree that additional stimulus would help put the recovery back on track. But many analysts say that growing fears about budget deficits make that step politically unthinkable.

All the while, however, we’re facing vivid examples of failing infrastructure across the country. Clearly, the maintenance and rebuilding of bridges, roads, water systems and the like can’t be postponed forever. And the work will never be cheaper to accomplish than right now, when high unemployment and excess capacity have put the opportunity cost of the necessary labor and equipment near zero. …”


…Deferring maintenance does nothing to alleviate our national indebtedness; in fact, it makes the problem far worse. According to the Nevada Department of Transportation, for instance, rehabilitation of a 10-mile section of I-80 that would cost $6 million this year would cost $30 million in two years, after the road deteriorated further….”

Borrowing to build and repair infrastructure is like taking out a mortgage to build a house — you might leave the mortgage to future generations, but you also leave the house — a break-even at worst.  But read the full article.

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