Ryan Cooper asks a simple question without a simple answer: “Spain, a developed market democracy, gets 10 to 20 times as much infrastructure for its money as America does, and it is of much higher quality to boot. Why is this?”
The question of infrastructure spending seems particularly pertinent of late—given all the recent research showing new behaviors in transportation and the environmental threats created by climate change (which are uniquely challenging in New York City or California and everywhere else, for that matter).
Cooper mentions three possibilities—expensive labor, out-of-control private contractors, and a “crap procurement process”—as culprits for the state of infrastructure investment in the country, but also acknowledges “it would be a mistake to focus too much on particular techniques or failures. The reality is that when it comes to cost and quality, America is doing basically everything wrong.”