Private Opulence, Public Poverty

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    ( – promoted by lowkell)

    A little item in THE WEEK magazine (11/15/13):

    Public investment is at its lowest level since World War II, dropping to just 3.6 percent of U.S. output, compared to the postwar average of 5 percent. The decrease is largely thanks to ‘Republican success in stymieing President Barack Obama’s push for more spending on infrastructure, science, and education.’

    What a shame. And what a shame the Obamacare launch has gone so badly, as it provides ammunition for those who work to sell the public the idea that the government is never the solution but always the problem.

    Not only is there a problem with the “keep your government hands off my Medicare kinds of ignorance,” but most Americans don’t know how important a role has been played, in the development of American affluence, by “public investment”– including the canals and bridges that the Federalists and Whigs sought in the early 19th century, and the railroads in which government played an important role, as well as things like the interstate highway system and the Internet (in which actually Al Gore did play a constructive role).

    The whole challenge is to find the right mix between the public and the private in our economy, not to idolize the one and demonize the other.

    • DJRippert

      “Government spending at the start of the 20th century was less than 7 percent of GDP. It vaulted to almost 30 percent of GDP by the end of World War I, and then settled down to 10 percent of GDP in the 1920s. In the 1930s spending doubled to 20 percent of GDP. Defense spending in World War II drove overall government spending over 50 percent of GDP before declining to 22 percent of GDP in the late 1940s. The 1950s began a steady spending increase to about 36 percent of GDP by 1982. In the 1990s and 2000s government spending stayed about constant at 33-35 percent of GDP, but in the aftermath of the Crash of 2008 spending has jogged up to 40 percent of GDP.”.

      http://www.usgovernmentspendin

      What percentage of GDP do you believe government spending should be?  Isn’t government spending high enough to cover infrastructure?  Is the question a lack of funds or a mis-allocation of adequate funds?

      As a side note, I tried to chase the link you provided to The Week magazine but didn’t find any articles on infrastructure spending.  Was the quote in some other article?