Let’s stop acting like a Third World country

We’re the Americans!  We’re the people who once did things nobody else could do.  We built the tallest buildings, the biggest dams, the spaceships that sent people to the moon.  We created mass prosperity on a scale the world had never seen before.  We took as our national motto the slogan of the Seabees (Navy Construction Battalions) during World War Two – “The difficult we do immediately, the impossible takes a little longer.”

Minneapolis bridge collapse (2007)

Now we act as if we are some Third World country waiting to be bailed out by the International Monetary Fund.  Our roads and bridges, dams and levees, water and sewer systems are all wearing out and we have no plans to replace them.  Some cities are turning out the street lights, some countries are digging up paved roads, some school boards say they can’t keep schools open the full year.  Our new national mottoes are – Nobody could be expected… and Nobody could have predicted…

Our present situation is that we as a nation have an enormous backlog of work that needs to be done.  We have nearly 15 million unemployed who need work.  And interest rates are at their lowest level in a generation, giving a once-in-a=generation opportunity to finance the work.

So I applaud President Obama’s announcement of his plan to rebuild the nation’s transportation infrastructure.  It is a good first step.  The next steps would be to rebuild the nation’s communications, energy, water and sewer infrastructure.

Click on America Goes Dark for an eloquent and justified rant by economist Paul Krugman.

Click on Obama’s Labor Day Remarks in Milwaukee for President Obama’s announcement of his infrastructure plan.

Click on White House fact sheet for the details of President Obama’s plan.

Click on New Republican Highway Bill Nixes National Infrastructure Bank for a report on Republican opposition to infrastructure spending.  [7/12/11]

Unemployment is worse than at this stage in any recession since World War Two.

Loss of jobs in construction was greater than in any other sector of the economy.  No, not everybody who is qualified to build houses is qualified to work on roads or airports, but an increase in jobs in any part of the economy helps generate employment through the whole economy.

Interest rates on government bonds are even lower than on corporate bonds.

Click on A bank run in reverse for Fred Clark’s explanation of why this is a good time to finance infrastructure improvements.

Click on Water for Fred Clark’s report on the need to maintain and repair the nation’s aging water systems.

Click on Sewers and storm drains for Fred Clark’s report on the need to maintain and repair the nation’s aging sewerage systems.

Click on Offshore wind farms for Fred Clark’s argument for investment in wind energy.

Click on The grid for Fred Clark’s report on the need to upgrade the nation’s aging and obsolete electrical distribution system.  I’m sure there also is a need to upgrade the telephone system, and the natural gas distribution system.  Regulated utilities have much the same funding problems as governments.

Click on Bridges for Fred Clark’s report on the need to repair and maintain the nation’s crumbling bridges.

Failing to repair and maintain is a form of deficit spending.  The failure means increasing the ultimate cost and passing it on to people in the future to pay.

This broadcast by Rachel Maddow late in 2008 is unfortunately still relevant today.

[Afterthought 9/12/10]  President Obama’s $50 billion infrastructure proposal amounts to less than 1/3 of 1 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product – hardly of New Deal proportions!

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