The Failure of Public Works and Public Funding
State projects are funded by your money, either through taxation or by inflation, most times both. Money is either taken directly from you or you lose purchasing power. The result is the same, as you will lose the ability to buy or produce as much as you wanted because of these projects. However, this is the alleged cost of living in a “civilized society.” Without these projects, we would be driving on dirt roads, living in shacks, and working for pennies a day.
However, these projects usually make the country poorer. Henry Hazlitt, in Economics in One Lesson, noted the unseen aspect of public works, such as a bridge project, writing:
If the bridge costs $1,000,000 the taxpayers will lose $1,000,000. They will have that much taken away from them which they would otherwise have spent on the things they needed most.
Therefore for every public job created by the bridge project a private job has been destroyed somewhere else. . . . They are the jobs destroyed by the $1,000,000 taken from the taxpayers. . . . More bridge builders; fewer automobile workers, radio technicians, clothing workers, farmers.
The book also mentions how these projects many times don’t even need to be done; a bridge does not always have to be built. However, in the name of employment and elections, politicians will pour taxpayer money into worthless projects. There have been numerous failed projects undertaken by local, state, and federal governments, but three come to mind.
Connecticut’s Dunkin’ Donuts Park
The city of Hartford, Connecticut, looked in 2014 to build a stadium for their baseball team, the Yard Goats, set to be completed by April 2016 for $47 million. The city contracted Centerplan to build the park, but issues started very soon. As seen in the timeline of the park’s debacle, the budget increased to $56 million by the summer of 2015. By January 2016, the city and contractors had a falling out, with the contractors saying that the city demanded structural and design changes that weren’t possible with the given budget.
The project missed its deadline and was $10 million over the budget. Centerplan was replaced by Whiting-Turner, and the park finally opened on April 11, 2017, with a cost of $72 million. This was $72 million less in the hands of Connecticut taxpayers. Connecticut already has some of the highest income tax rates in the country, ranging from 3.00 percent to 6.99 percent. This project cost not only Hartford, but Connecticut as a whole.
New York City Subways
Article from Mises Wire