Comment 31040

By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted May 13, 2009 at 15:25:20

Ryan >> I support public spending on public goods - particularly on those public goods, like national defence, public education, health care, and efficient transit, that produce positive network externalities and which benefit everyone,

According to the BEA (, U.S. government spending on health and education has been growing faster than the overall economy for decades...

1960-69...4.42% of GDP
1970-79...7.15% of GDP
1980-89...7.56% of GDP
1990-99...8.83% of GDP
2000-08...9.81% of GDP

However, during this time period, the overall performance of the economy has slowed dramatically. Therefore, while there may indeed be benefits from government spending, the evidence also suggests that it might be at a much lower level as a percent of the economy, than we see today.

>> The problem with sprawl is not that it is subsidized, but that it is subsidized *even though it is a net detriment to the public good*

You may be correct, but the majority of people still like the idea of living in the suburbs. Therefore, to them, sprawl is a public good. If they had to pay directly for the costs of that lifestyle, I think most would switch to a more urban way of life, even without subsidies for public transit. In my opinion, by promoting the idea that government should be making economic decisions, you are allowing subsidized sprawl to continue. If people had to pay for what they consume (exceptions for true hard luck cases), I think Hamilton would very much resemble your more "urban" vision of what this city should look like.

>> Citation definitely needed.

When you subsidize something, more people use it. Therefore, if people were forced to pay market rates for mass transit, do you think there would be as many buses on the streets?

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