We hear the word infrastructure all the time. Hardly a political speech takes place without mentioning the word at least once or twice. Infrastructure is an umbrella word that covers such things as roads, bridges, electrical power systems, sewage systems, water systems, schools, libraries, public buildings, airports and rail systems.
There is no question in anyone’s mind, whether they be a Republican or a Democrat, that our infrastructure system in the United States is deplorable. Every day I travel on streets and roads that are rapidly destroying my car. I cross bridges that are rusted and whose cement substructures are crumbling. I pass electric poles that have been in place for decades and which need replacement. The rail system in my city is adequate but sorely in need of upgrading. There are dozens of schools in this community and those surrounding that need tearing down and replacing. It isn’t a political issue to identify the failures of the infrastructure of this nation.
The political issue is on the other end of the spectrum. How do we go about repairing and replacing the infrastructure failures in America?
- Republicans seem to believe that it is an issue that the private sector can solve.
- Democrats believe that it will take massive programs of the public sector to solve it.
The logical answer is that it is a combination of public and private initiative that will bring about the needed renovation of the infrastructure of this nation. But from my perspective it will only begin when the public sector (the government) makes the first bold move and kicks off a huge, major infrastructure construction program such as the ones which have characterized the Roosevelt and Eisenhower administrations. There is no question that the money was there in the private sector. It took the government action to bring it to bear on the process. But in the meantime massive construction projects took place .
Critics of public funding for infrastructure projects remind us that we are in a tough financial moment in this country where there isn’t discretionary money available for such projects. I would remind them that the Boulder Dam, eventually known as the Hoover Dam, was constructed during the Great Depression when the country’s economic situation was even more bleak. It was partly because of the infrastructure program that Roosevelt’s administration initiated that we worked our way out of the Great Depression. The Second World War played a huge part in it, to be perfectly honest, however. But the fact remains that thousands upon thousands of unemployed men and women found employment through the initiative, and the products of that initiative continue to be monuments to the forward thinking of a President and his administration.
There are thousands of us at this moment in our nation’s history who believe that it is time for another such initiative. The infrastructure needs are great. The unemployment issue is great. The possibilities for success are great. The only thing holding us back is the will and the bravery to take the first step to institute such an initiative. It is politically unpopular with a closed-minded segment of this electorate who would create a cat fight over such an initiative.
Shame on them.
Photo Credit: Jim Twamley