With our most recent bridge collapse–at least they’re not as frequent as gun-associated mass murders–there have been renewed calls for fixing the damn bridges. While a lot of commentators have focused on a chart showing how transportation budgets, as a percentage of GDP, have dropped around forty percent over the last two years.
But what the chart doesn’t really indicate is what that means in terms of actual dollars spent: according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, that’s a ‘missing’ $67 billion every year. A billion dollars of transportation spending leads to about 17,000 jobs (though, as you might imagine, there are disagreements, with estimates ranging from 11,000 to 42,000 jobs per billion). But 17,000 seems in line with many estimates. So that missing $67 billion would yield… [Mad Biologist needs to take off our shoes to do the arithmetic] …somewhere around 1.1 million jobs.
I still can’t fathom how so many people claimed during the stimulus debate that it would be really difficult to shovel money out the door to create jobs. So what if it took a year to ramp up to full speed? It’s not as if these infrastructure problems were going away. By definition, they get worse the longer they are neglected.
And the congregation responds: This is yet another reason why we can’t have nice things.