Strange Days? A National Review Columnist Salutes My Infrastructure Investment Piece

These are strange days.  Back in February 2011, David Levinson and I wrote a good policy paper for the Brookings Institution. We argue that that revenue from the gasoline tax should be directed to financing the repair of existing transport infrastructure and that a Transport Infrastructure bank should be created.   For a copy of our report, click  here.

Here is some praise for our study from the National Review’s Reihan Salam.

If my views on “good government spending” interest you, then you will certainly be interested in my thoughts on the dude who has fathered 150 children.

Author: Matthew E. Kahn

Professor of Economics at UCLA.

3 thoughts on “Strange Days? A National Review Columnist Salutes My Infrastructure Investment Piece”

  1. It’s not terribly strange. Your co-author explicitly describes himself as “mostly (small ‘l’) libertarian,” I’ve discussed and praised *Climatopolis* in the past, I was an undergraduate student of Edward Glaeser, with whom I believe you’ve collaborated in the past. I actually find it strange that you find it strange that I’d write favorably on your proposal, as I have often made reference to the importance of prudent, well-targeted, cost-effective infrastructure spending, as have many other libertarians and conservatives.

  2. The infrastructure investment bank isn’t exactly a brand-new conservative idea; the Democratic financier Felix Rohatyn was pushing it in 2008, though Matthew’s paper doesn’t mention him. But not to grumble. This is exactly the type of Pareto-efficient idea that would receive bipartisan support if the US political system hadn’t been broken by conservatives.

    To annoy American readers further, a website on the Spanish high-speed rail network. Spain invests so heavily in new high-speed lines because the legacy network is (a) very poor (b) at non-standard gauge, so they can’t run AVE trains over it as the French do with TGVs on their far superior old network. The site has photos or videos of four lines under construction: Barcelona- French border(E), Valladolid – Bilbao – French border (W), Seville-Granada, and a stretch in Galicia that won’t link up to the rest until 2015. (Regionalist politics beating out rational optimisation, which suggests building out from the existing network.)

    It’s not clear how much these projects will be slowed down by austerity cuts in public spending, but I strongly doubt whether anything started will be cancelled. A half-built rail tunnel or road bridge has zero value outside the scenario of its completion, and the NPV of finishing goes up with every euro you spend.

  3. The only strange thing is that a self-respecting intellectual like Reihan Salam chooses to publish in the National Review. It’s kind of like reading Jane Austen in the pages of Hustler. Yes, Jane Austen is concerned with gender and so is Hustler. But otherwise . . .

    Otherwise, there is nothing strange or unusual about Reihan Salam being reasonable–or even insightful.

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