Airbase to Housing Transition

A blog about business and economics.
Aug. 13 2012 9:55 AM

From Airbase to Housing in Brunswick, Maine

Brunswick Naval Air Station in 2009

Courtesy Wikimedia commons.

I'm on vacation this week, but I can't resist bringing a little local Maine color into the Moneybox world. So I was interested in this piece out of Brunswick where land that was formerly used for Brunswick Naval Air Station is now a bonanza of affordable housing for seniors and young families in the area.

This is a reminder that excessive attention to accounting often leads to a misleading view of the "costs" of this or that undertaking. The budgetary cost of running an airbase is only the beginning of a conversation. The real cost is the real resources involved. Land and supporting infrastructure that could provide local housing is used for an airbase instead. The cost of a white elephant construction project isn't that money is spent, it's that the people and machines involved in building it could have built something else. That's why even though getting public works done on an accelerated scale during a recession is hard, it can be very valuable. When demand for building residential and commercial structures plummets, the real-world cost of spending money to employ workers in public infrastructure projects is very low. Conversely, the standard pro-cyclical spending cycle of state governments where they bump up infrastructure spending at the peak of a boom is exceptionally wasteful because it crowds out private sector work at precisely the time the private sector wants workers.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.