When decisions are forced into collective choice mechanisms, it is not surprising that the decisions are colored by other decisions also in process of being made there. We are, collectively, concerned about welfare, and hence we may use decisions about environmental quality to advance a particular income redistribution scheme, say, improving water quality in a stream because poor blacks use it for swimming and fishing. We are, collectively, concerned about regional economic "balance" and may use decisions about environmental quality to advance a particular region, say, tying a flood control project in with a water navigation scheme to bring "low-cost" water transport to an area previously served only by rail, air, and road.
When we mix our motives for public investment, we are often subject to the apt criticism that our instruments are inefficient for the purposes. Perhaps swimming pools and food stamps can produce equal benefits to poor blacks at less cost than improved water quality. No doubt rail rates can be forced down more cheaply than by digging what are, in effect, canals for____________________