Some Things Only Government Can Do

Too bad paying for them is such a problem.

As basic as it gets.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

These are dark days for those of us who believe that public goods such as infrastructure and scientific research are essential functions of government. Decades of attacks by libertarians, not all of them well-informed, have made conservatives and much of the public skeptical toward the provision of public goods. Increased spending on transfer payments -- health care in particular -- has squeezed government finances, leaving less room for public goods. And the perpetual partisan brinksmanship that has turned the U.S. political process into a series of dramatic standoffs and last-minute deals has made long-term infrastructure and research spending much more difficult. 

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