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Whitman in The Conversation: Preserve, don’t cut public goods to make America great

April 20, 2017

Marina v. N. Whitman advocates for the Trump administration to invest in public goods in her April 18 article for The Conversation: “‘Public Goods’ made America great and can do so again.”

Public goods include a nation's existing natural resources, such as forests, prairies, mountains, and lakes, which often need government protection and preservation. Other goods are directly provided by the government itself: for example, water treatment systems, local roads and interstate highways, public schools, and investments in research and development.

Historically, public goods have earned bipartisan support, says Whitman, a moderate Republican. That’s because public goods have positive economic impacts for the U.S. “In fact,” Whitman adds, “I would argue that public goods are what have made America great.”

Whitman lists a few examples of past major undertakings and the economic benefits they spurred, including transcontinental railroads, the National Park Service, and President Eisenhower’s interstate highway system.

Internationally-shared public goods are important, too, she argues. “Perhaps the most critical global public good is peace,” and international institutions like the United Nations help to preserve it, she adds.

Whitman worries that the Trump administration will not only significantly cut spending on U.S. public goods, but will also cut support for global institutions as well. Given the benefits public goods provide, from local parks to global trade institutions, Whitman argues the Trump administration should take the opposite approach.

“Put simply, investing in public goods has served America well through the years. It would be a huge mistake to turn our backs on it.”