by John Hawkins | February 16, 2010 1:34 pm
Seldom does this happen, but I do have to say, Bob Herbert is right about this:
These kinds of problems are not peculiar to Pennsylvania. New Orleans was lost for want of an adequate system of levees and floodwalls. Lawrence Summers, President Obama’s chief economic adviser, tells us that 75 percent of America’s public schools have structural deficiencies. The nation’s ports, inland waterways, drinking water and wastewater systems – you name it – are hurting to one degree or another.
Ignoring these problems imperils public safety, diminishes our economic competitiveness, is penny-wise and pound-foolish, and results in tremendous missed opportunities to create new jobs on a vast scale.
Competitors are leaving us behind when it comes to infrastructure investment. China is building a network of 42 high-speed rail lines, while the U.S. has yet to build its first. Other nations are well ahead of us in the deployment of broadband service and green energy technology. We spend scandalous amounts of time sitting in traffic jams or enduring the endless horrors of airline travel. Low-cost, high-speed Internet access is a science-fiction fantasy in many parts of the United States.
What’s wrong with us?
Here’s what’s wrong with us: infrastructure isn’t a sexy political issue. If you get an earmark to rebuild the Robert Byrd overpass, you can brag about that when you run for office. But, if you just get money to repair the infrastructure, nobody is impressed because they think you should be doing that anyway — and they’re right.
Every state should have enough money set aside to fix their infrastructure. Why don’t they all do that? Because it’s one of the easiest places to cut out of the budget. You may be able to go decades without repairing a bridge, or pipes, or dams and chances are everything will be fine.
It’s like deciding to save money by not paying for an oil change. You may be able to get by with it for a long time without paying a price. Of course, there’s also a chance you’ll wait too long and it’ll cost you the engine.
As a conservative, I consider the government to be a necessary evil because we do need them to do things like this. They should be making sure the infrastructure in the country doesn’t fall apart and it shouldn’t take a bridge collapsing to get them to do something.
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