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If our roads and bridges are so safe, then why are the states scrambling to see which of their bridges are dangerous? Why did they wait for a bridge to collapse before all these reports were done?

I saw an article about the road structures in Connecticutt, and how the state was ripped off and the roads poorly done. Anyone can get a contract now-a-days. All you have to do is whine to the SBA and say you can't get a contract, and they'll give you one even if you aren't qualified to do the work.

I hope wanna-be surgeons don't figure out how to get jobs based on their disability or nationality, rather than their qualifications to do the job.

What about the cheap labor? Are these people qualified to do the work? Where did they get the experience from? In all the construction zone around me, you can barely find an American doing the road work, including new construction. They just pop over our border and walla, they're qualified to construct our roads and bridges?


I agree with a lot of what Professor Becker has to say. It is not relevant to worry about where the labor is coming from. If we move to privatize some roadways, it is not our concern who does the maintaining, but our concern lies with having a passable and safe roadway.

If there is a problem, then the American legal system should be able to solve it to our satisfaction. If the road is not maintained well, drivers will avoid it, hurting the profitability of the road.


It's hard to trust or respect an economist who repeats the old canard about “X% of traffic fatalities are caused by alcohol.” What is his source?

Here is a statement from the NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis:

“There were 16,885
fatalities in 2005 –
39 percent of the
total traffic fatalities
for the year.”

--Traffic Safety Facts 2005 Data.

“A motor vehicle crash is considered to be alcohol-related if at least one driver
or nonoccupant (such as a pedestrian or pedalcyclist) involved in the crash is
determined to have had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 gram per
deciliter (g/dL) or higher. Thus, any fatality that occurs in an alcohol-related
crash is considered an alcohol-related fatality. The term “alcohol-related” does
not indicate that a crash or fatality was caused by the presence of alcohol.”

I would like to know what percent of homicides (excluding suicides) were CAUSED
by driving while impaired by alcohol, and now know not to trust Becker for a reasonable answer!


Jeff, I agree with you in part, but not about whether or not we should worry about where the labor comes from.

It's to my understanding there's a lot of engineering smarts required to construct bridges and skills are needed. If unqualified people are constructing our roads and bridges, then we should worry where the labor is coming from.

I don't want just any body filling a vacant job because the construction company needed laborers. You get what you paid for.

We have H1B visa holders filling jobs that Americans are qualified to do. Please note, I am not saying ALL visa holders are guilty of not being qualified, but in my experience, visa holders and illegal laborers are given jobs when they aren't qualified to do the job.

I think this is going to end up haunting America when all is said and done. And you can't count on our legal system to solve it to our satisfaction.

I had a judge, in a U.S. District Court, tell me it was going to get tougher on me (I'm pro se) and he said he won't allow me to clean up Robins Air Force Base. He bypassed my protective order and assisted the defendants in going after a multimillion dollar contract. He refused to allow me to submit evidence, so I cited the law to him that showed he was in error. His response? "I don't understand government contracting"

The contract was given to H1B visa holders who then had the audicity to call me up and ask for help in implimenting the plans because they didn't know how to do the work. Mind you, this is work for our Department of Defense, and a security clearance is needed to access Defense databases.

Yes, it matters where the labor is coming from. If it didn't, then lets just let everyone across our borders and give them jobs that might give them access to sensitive information, American's plans and buinesses, our roads, our bridges, our judicial system. We can kiss America goodbye..or is that the goal?

Tony Zirkle.com

Why not use certain pre-screened prisoners to assist in interstate building and highway maintenance?

Tony Zirkle

Tony Zirkle

The federal government is a gov't of limited powers. Their interstate roll for highways should be limited to interstate highways, not local infrastructure.

Tony Zirkle

michael perelman

Here is a comment that I just posted to my web site regarding your take on the infrastructure problem.


Gary Becker has a piece on the blog he shares with Richard Posner regarding infrastructure in the wake of the Minneapolis Bridge collapse.
I find it interesting the way conservative economists always find a way to make every problem call for the same solution -- markets, markets, markets. In my Confiscation of American Prosperity, I compared this attitude to the behavior of a doctor who would prescribe the same procedure for every problem, whether it would be a heart attack or broken leg.
First of all, he uses several tactics to rule out the need for more government spending. First of all, he claims that the roads and bridges are in good shape. The second tactic is far more interesting to me. Often when somebody calls for more government spending or regulation to solve a problem, conservatives claim that an unrelated program would be more cost effective.
Childhood vaccinations are a good example. For example, if somebody recommends policies, such as the regulation of tobacco, conservatives, such as John Graham, later Bush's regulatory czar, argued that allocating money for regulation rather than spending it on childhood vaccinations or some other worthy purposes is tantamount to "statistical murder" (see Graham 1995).
Graham, John D. 1995. ”Comparing Opportunities To Reduce Health Risks: Toxin Control, Medicine and Injury Prevention (Dallas: National Center For Policy Analysis). http://www.ncpa.org/studies/s192/s192.html
Of course, the people who make such an argument never actively promote the childhood vaccination. Instead, they merely insist on government inaction. In this case, Becker argues that reducing alcohol related deaths would make a greater contribution to safety, without giving any suggestion of how to achieve such a goal.
Finally, Becker makes the case that -- surprise surprise -- the best approach would be privatization, without explaining how privatization could be accomplished in a way to guarantee better maintenance of the infrastructure.


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