Politicians Love Building New Sh*t, They Hate Maintaining the Old Stuff

Quote of the day from Randal O'Toole on the closure of the entire Washington Metro yesterday for emergency safety inspections

The Washington Post’s architecture critic claims that the shutdown happened because “we decided to let our cities decay.” In fact, it’s because politicians decided that spending money on new construction projects, such as the Silverand Purple lines, would benefit their political careers more than spending it maintaining the existing system.

Before that, it’s because politicians decided to saddle Washington with an expensive, obsolete technology that the region can’t afford to maintain. Metro needs to spend $1.1 billion a year on maintenance to keep the system from deteriorating; it spent about a third of that in 2014, so it’s getting worse every year.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    "In fact, it’s because politicians decided that spending money on new construction projects, such as the Silverand Purple lines, would benefit their political careers more than spending it maintaining the existing system."

    And they are right too. Given the chance, voters will vote for the guy who promises new stuff over the guy who promises to maintain the existing stuff.

  • bigmaq1980

    They actively defer maintenance to use that money somewhere else - not even on new sh*t (though that explains some of the cases), but often for various "social programs" (i.e. directly consumed - usually by well connected groups - ever wonder how community activists get funded?), or other "giveaways" to buy votes.

  • Sam P

    The Metro Board of Directors is using this "opportunity" to request a dedicated funding source (a regional tax). The implication doesn't hold up for me. Somehow making an annual budget request to Washington DC and several Virginia and Maryland counties is "pass the hat all the time".

  • LoneSnark

    Well, it is all very much worse than that. For the money they spend, they could easily do both. But, government operates on behalf of its government employees, and those employees like getting over-paid to do less than they reasonably could.

  • STW

    If we could just name the repairs after politicians. The Senator Jack S. Phogbound Memorial Lock Washer or The Senator Batson D. Belfry Asphalt Patch have a nice ring to them.

  • John O.

    President Obama Memorial Golf Ball Washer and Dryer, I'm pretty sure the NPS owns a golf course somewhere in DC they put a nice big bronze plaque in front of.

  • markm

    I'd gladly pay taxes for The Hillary Clinton Memorial Toilet Brush.