Friday, June 21, 2013

Government and infrastructure

People often say that we need the government to do things that the people can't do for themselves, such as infrastructure. That concept goes back to the days when kings owned everything and peasants were essentially squatters who paid the king tribute to stay on the land, build a home, and do a little farming. Why do we persist in that government-dependent thinking? Where is that concept written in the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence -- the documents that define the proper roles of government in a free land?

Actually, it is private companies -- not government -- that build the roads and bridges -- with money the government borrows from those who buy government bonds. One almost never sees government employees and government equipment out building roads. (Government employees and government equipment are sometimes used for road maintenance, but almost never for construction or reconstruction.)

Our nation's infrastructure (roads and bridges mentioned above, phone and cable lines, cell-phone systems, power lines, rail lines, water and sewer lines, etc) are almost entirely built by private companies -- not government. Much of that infrastructure is even owned, operated, and maintained by private companies -- not government!

In a typical new housing development, the developer lays out a plan for streets and lots. He/she, at his/her own expense, puts in the infrastructure (streets and utilities), then sells the lots (or lots with homes on them). Part of the completed infrastructure (streets, water, and sewer lines) is donated to the city or county. The remaining infrastructure (phone, cable, and power lines) remain the property of the utility company that installed them. No government entity does anything to finance or build any of that infrastructure other than to approve the subdivision plan, easements, and rights of way.
To the House of Representatives of the United States (March 3, 1817):
Having considered the bill this day presented to me entitled 'An act to set apart and pledge certain funds for internal improvements,' and which sets apart and pledges funds 'for constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of water courses, in order to facilitate, promote, and give security to internal commerce among the several States, and to render more easy and less expensive the means and provisions for the common defense,' I am constrained by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling the bill with the Constitution of the United States to return it with that objection to the House of Representatives, in which it originated. -- James Madison, US President and "Father" of the Constitution
Other than allowing government to grab power over the People, there is no excuse for government to build or own infrastructure. The only proper role for government in infrastructure is to establish easements and rights-of-way so that private enterprise can do what private enterprise does best: Provide the infrastructure needed in an efficient manner and in a way that protects the rights of the People.

Yes, it can be done. To say that it can't be done is an insult to the private companies and their employees who are actually are doing it! The only difference would be that private enterprise borrows the money for construction -- not government. You'd see the same construction equipment and workers as now.

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