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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Clamor for more taxes and spending

Reading Eagle editorial repreats many of the Wrong Lessons of the Minnesota bridge collapse - namely that the problem is a lack of funding and taxes for transportation.

Contrast that with Peter Samuels observations: the reason that the Minnesota bridge collapsed is because the Minnesota Department of Transportation failed to do its job. Yet the solution proposed by far too many is to give them more money.

But giving the same mismanaged and failing bureaucracies more money won't solve the problem in tranportation infrastructure - in fact, the perverse incentives of rewarding failure will only exacerbate them.

Nor is it a problem of states "not being willing to raise taxes," as the Eagle (quoting a Penn State professor) claims. Minnesota recently raised taxes on Minneapolis-St. Paul residents. Of course, it wasn't to repair the bridge in the middle of the city, but to give $300 million to the Minnesota Twins to build a new stadium. Hence the problem isn't too little spending, but wasteful spending.

Both Samuels and Edmonds suggest that a toll bridge, run by a private manager, would be better ensure safety and quality. Why? A failure of this magnitude would surely bankrupt and ruin a private company - hence they would do everything to prevent it. Meanwhile, the state of Minnesota - for their incompetence - will be getting an extra $250 million.

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