Tilting at Windmills

November/December 2011 Hidden capital

By Charles Peters

There is a problem with government accounting that drives me around the bend, but that I rarely see noted elsewhere. When corporations build a factory, it is considered a positive, the creation of a capital asset. But when government builds a road or a school, it’s an expense. It’s simply spending money, treated the same as the most frivolous waste. Why can’t we have a system of accounting that gives government credit for the creation of genuine assets like bridges and schools?

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly and the author of a new book on Lyndon B. Johnson published by Times Books.


  • jhm on November 07, 2011 9:06 AM:

    Not to push you over the edge, but just think of the amount of public support, in special tax deals, external costs, bonding et cetera, which oftentimes goes into the corporation's factory building decision.