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The problem with a shovel-ready infrastructure plan

04/05/2017

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President Trump and the Democrats may reach agreement on one initiative soon: Spending a trillion bucks on infrastructure.Since it will be a bipartisan deal, let’s be fair: The Democrats’ fixation on an infrastructure splurge is just as mistaken.So, what’s wrong with a big effort to repair our visibly tired roads, bridges, airports, to install world-class IT services, and to provide jobs and economic stimulus?First, don’t re-make here in the U.S. the mistakes made in Japan, China, and parts of Europe and the developing world. For the sake of economic stimulus (and sometimes simple pride) the most common infrastructure error has been to built without investment return.“Looks great” is not an investment return. Nor is “new.” All infrastructure investment should survive this test: In what tangible and measurable ways will a new project improve commerce, and for how long, and better than cheaper alternatives?Without investment return, we’ll get the same …

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