Good analysis from the Noahpinion blog on America’s persistent problems delivering quality public infrastructure. From roads to schools to health to communications and beyond, the world’s richest and most powerful nation looks pretty rickety to those who have spent time in Europe or East Asia. Why?:
At least since the 1970s, the Republican party has successfully raised opposition to government spending among large numbers of white people, especially in the South and in rural areas, by convincing them that government spending is mostly racial redistribution from whites to blacks. Talk to a Republican voter about government spending, and this idea will come out pretty quickly. If you don’t believe me, just do a Google search for “racial redistribution”.
It’s not really true, of course; white people receive about the same number of dollars in benefits that they pay in taxes. But the meme persists, and it looks uncomfortably like the kind of thing that Easterly and Alesina document. Interestingly, many Republicans also seem to think that government shifts money from whites to Hispanics, when actually the reverse is probably true. The negative attitude that America’s right-wing minority has toward blacks has partially spilled over into their attitude toward Hispanics. That’s bad news.
How much this effect contributes to problems delivering infrastructure is debatable, but for those old enough to remember public pools being filled with dirt to defeat desegregation it certainly rings true. Try to build a commuter rail line in a Southern city and listen carefully to the objections being raised.
This is why we can’t have nice things.