From my favorite political writer, Kevin Williamson, at National Review, Biden’s Infrastructure Scam:
The subsidies for rural broadband and the subsidies for expensive blue-state governance are two sides of the same coin: Both represent the efforts of Americans to push off the real cost of their lifestyle choices onto other people. Frédéric Bastiat understood this way back in the 19th century, when he wrote: “Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.” One of the things we are going to have to get our heads around in our shared life — a fact that we have to reestablish and re-learn to appreciate — is that Americans are genuinely diverse and have radically different ideas about what constitutes the good life. What works in Brewster County, Texas, does not necessarily work in Travis County, Texas, much less in Brooklyn. Any model of politics that attempts to impose an economically or culturally homogeneous regime on the glorious American mess is going to provoke bitter resistance and incite new culture-war confrontations. Federalism and localism aren’t aesthetic preferences or ideological leanings that come out of nowhere — they are peace-keeping mechanisms necessary to the stable functioning of a diverse society.
The problem is not federal infrastructure spending per se: The problem is “infrastructure” bills that are in fact political slush-funds. We go about infrastructure in a way that is precisely backward: Instead of figuring out, one project at a time, what needs doing and how to prioritize those demands — repaving this section of interstate highway, replacing that bridge — and then seeing what that all adds up to and making informed decisions about timing and tradeoffs, we come up with some silly round number — say, $2,000,000,000,000.00 — and then see if we can find a politically attractive way to shovel all that cash out the door. That is how you end up spending a lot of money on infrastructure without actually getting much infrastructure. It’s the national version of the paradox in which the roads of so many American cities are always being repaired but are never repaired.
Any dummy can spend $2 trillion: Put the cash on the table, and somebody is going to figure out a way to pick it up. Some of those people will be government contractors, some of them will be farmers who are keen on a subsidy, some of them will be rich guys in the Hamptons who don’t want to be on the hook for the entire sum of their local taxes, and so on — there’s no shortage of constituencies eager for federal largesse. But we should not kid ourselves that moving money from one pocket to the other makes the nation as a whole wealthier. At some point, all of us — rural and urban, employer and employee, buyer and seller — will have to pay our own way.