Our shitty priorities

September 2, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More

Here’s the problem, as described by Kevin Drum at Mother Jones:

Our trains, even in the busy Northeast corridor, are second rate, our airports are embarrassments, our dams are leaking, and our bridges are crumbling. Taken as a whole, the average age of our public capital stock has risen from 16 to 23 years over the past four decades, “suggesting great underinvestment in public infrastructure,” Mike Mandel says.

The American Society of Civil Engineers agrees about the terrible condition of the American infrastructure. In their most recent report card, they gave our solid waste facilities a C+, our bridges a C, our rail a C-, our energy infrastructure a D+, our dams and schools a D, and our roads, levees, and inland waterways a D-. Nothing got an A or a B. All of this is common knowledge.

Instead needlessly destroying people and property in the Middle East for the past decade, we could have been addressing America’s decrepit infrastructure by investing in America. We would have been simultaneously creating high-skill long-lasting jobs. We failed to do what we needed to do because our priorities and our political system are insane and self-destructive.

We had the money to get the job done, but we blew it, as described by Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post:

When [George W. Bush] was campaigning for the White House in 2000, the government was anticipating a projected surplus of roughly $6 trillion over the following decade. Bush said repeatedly that he thought this was too much and wanted to bring the surplus down — hence, in 2001, the first of his two big tax cuts. Bush was hewing to what had already become Republican dogma and by now has become something akin to scripture: Taxes must always be cut because government must always be starved.

The party ascribes this golden rule to Ronald Reagan — conveniently forgetting that Reagan, in his eight years as president, raised taxes 11 times. Reagan may have believed in small government, but he did believe in government itself. Today’s Republicans have perverted Reagan’s philosophy into a kind of anti-government nihilism — an irresponsible, almost childish insistence that the basic laws of arithmetic can be suspended at their will.

I’ll end with a proverb:

“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”


Category: American Culture, Orwellian

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Author Barry Lapatner warns us further about our crumbling infrastructure, especially 1,000 crumbling American Bridges. Host Dylan Ratigan comments that the actual cost of gasoline for Americans, once you build in the cost of all of the costs of obtaining it (including military costs) is $15/gallon.


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