A Model For Public Works, But A Bad One

The Highway Act of 1956 that resulted in the construction of America's Interstate Highway system has gathered a lot of praise recently as a model economy-boosting public works project. But based on the problems it's caused, that praise should stop.
March 5, 2009, 10am PST | Nate Berg
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"Mr Obama's praise for the Highway Act is disturbing. In arguments over his stimulus package and his preliminary budget released on Thursday, Republicans have made the lazy assumption that government intervention in the economy can never succeed. Mr Obama shows signs of the opposite error – believing it can never fail."

"The Highway Act probably has more defenders than detractors. But Mr Obama should be among the latter. The act, which budgeted $25bn in federal money to build 41,000 miles of motorway, exacerbated the very problems Mr Obama has been most eager to solve – spoliation of the environment, dependence on foreign oil, overburdening of state and local budgets, abandonment of the inner-city poor and reckless speculation in real-estate development, to name a few."

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Published on Wednesday, March 4, 2009 in Financial Times
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