Contrary to Obama, Governments Don’t Build Roads and Bridges

When President Obama said “You didn’t build that,” millions of Americans objected. But since there are fewer business owners than those who work for a business owner, the President most likely scored some points with the electorate. Everything he says is calculated to appeal to his base.

Conservatives didn’t help when they conceded to the lie that governments build roads and bridges. There aren’t any government road and bridge building companies. Roads and bridges are built by private companies that must hire engineers, electricians, heavy equipment operators, concrete and stone specialists, welders, and a whole host of other occupations.

Roads and bridges get built because government has the power and authority to take property through the constitutional provision of “eminent domain.” The most common uses of property taken by eminent domain are for public utilities, highways, and railroads, land that ordinarily would not be given up for sale.

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution reads in part —

No person . . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The mandated “just compensation” demonstrates that like everything the government does, it doesn’t have until it first takes. In order to get the land to build a road, the government must go to a land owner, a person who purchased or inherited the land. The money that’s paid for the “taking” is paid for with money that was first taken from the citizens.

The government doesn’t have any money, but it can confiscate it at will at any percentage determined by a group of elected representatives. Any private group of citizens could do as well if they had the power to force people to sell their land.

Government can do this because the Constitution gives it the power to apply eminent domain. There is no benevolence in the State’s action. The action of eminent domain is forced compliance.

The government doesn’t have any road or bridge building companies, so it must go to the private sector and contract with business owners to build roads, bridges, waterways, dams, and railroads that are needed for commerce to thrive.

Without the private sector, our nation’s infrastructure would not exist.

That’s why we can say to President Obama and any president, “You didn’t build that . . . We did.”