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Private cash for urban infrastructure

The New York Times (1/6, Uchitelle) reported New Haven, Conn., home of Yale University, as a vivid example of an urban problem nationwide -- the contrast between growing private construction spending, "supported handsomely by a growing number of very wealthy families," and declined government outlays on public infrastructure investment.

While some may be glad that private cash supplements public needs for urban renovation, the reach of philanthropic spending is limited. Most of private donation goes to endowments and foundations, which, when translates into development, adds to the nation’s stock of hospitals, libraries, museums, parks, university buildings, theaters and concert halls. Public infrastructure — highways, bridges, rail systems, water works, public schools, port facilities, sewers, airports, energy grids, tunnels, dams and levees — depends mostly on tax dollars, which has shrunk nationwide as a share of the national economy.


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