Friday, August 31, 2012

Who Built That

Photo: Christian Science Monitor.

It annoys me to no end when “conservatives” take Barack Obama (or Elizabeth Warren) out of context. When the President said “you didn’t build that,” he was clearly, if clumsily, talking about infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.). Indeed, most business owners didn’t directly finance the baseline infrastructure that services their businesses.

It annoys me just as much when “liberals” fail to recognize such remarks as the claptrap and political flimflam that they are. While even ardent libertarians acknowledge that government can and perhaps should have an important role in developing and coordinating infrastructure projects, the fact is that very little of our tax revenues go toward public infrastructure.

Federal spending for FY 2012.

Even when stretching the imagination, no more than three to six percent of the federal budget was allocated to infrastructure in FY 2012. The numbers are a little more favorable when we combine state and federal spending, but infrastructure still accounts for only a small sliver of the pie. Most of the pie goes to welfare and “defense.”

When the people complain about taxes, they aren’t talking about infrastructure … and when the President talks about raising them, neither is he.