How ‘we’ built the Golden Gate

Andrew C. McCarthy, writing about the president’s recent gaffe (“You didn’t build that…”), responding to his specific claim about how “we” built the Golden Gate Bridge:

As Welch shows, the federal government did everything it could to prevent the Golden Gate from being built. The local people and businesses wanted it; but the Defense Department did not want it built and owned the land on either side of the channel, which it refused for a long time to sell. When it finally agreed to sell, it would not sell to the developers, only to a state commission. And the feds did not participate… other than to try to derail the project. That is, federal contractor unions held up the works, trying to extort their piece of the pie. Finally, because of the market’s collapse and the Great Depression, the bond financing ran into trouble, resulting in more delay until, finally, private capital — the personal wealth of A.P. Giannini — came to the rescue. The bridge was completed $1.7 million underbudget, Welch recounts, “using non-union labor and private contractors.”

Welch ends with a fabulous point. In today’s dollars, the $35 million cost of the Golden Gate Bridge translates into $530 million. That’s “far less than one percent of Obama’s stimulus package. So,” he asks, “where the hell are our new Golden Gates? What exactly has been the return on all this added ‘investment’?”

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One Response to How ‘we’ built the Golden Gate

  1. Paul Marks says:

    The Golden Gate bridge is the most pushed “example of the success of the New Deal” – even if was such a thing there would still be the Bastiat point of the results of government action being seen but the costs (the opportunity cost – what people would have done had their own money be left to them) being “unseen”. However, this post shows that the Golden Gate bridge is NOT the uncomplicted “New Deal” success it is presented as – the truth is far more complex.

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