Yesterday the BBC wrote about the “Swiss Gotthard rail tunnel – an engineering triumph“, the world’s longest and deepest rail tunnel — part of a massive project to build world-class rail network for Switzerland. It included a typical graphic for these kind of articles. Note what major nation does not appear on the list, and seldom appears on these lists.
There have been many such articles lately, as nations upgrade their infrastructure for success in the 21st century. They build tunnels, fiber optic networks, high speed trains (fast, reducing pollution), etc. America appears in few of these stories.
News about America’s infrastructure has a different tone. “Why the U.S. Has Fallen Behind in Internet Speed and Affordability“. CNN reports that damaged pipelines are a ‘ticking time bomb’, “the busiest rails shut down by failing power cables”, and “Bridges supported by crumbling 90-year-old beams.” You can use this interactive tool to see the Sorry State of America’s Bridges. US Airports are Awful; Here’s the problem.
And so forth, and each year brings forth new stories about the results of our underinvestment in critical public infrastructure. Visitors to America often remark about our decrepit third-world-like infrastructure for transportation and communication, while Americans exult over our shiny new weapons.
The Report Card on America’s infrastructure
By the American Society of Civil Engineers
A portrait of a nation in decline
Gross Federal, State, and Local investments as a percent of GDP
During the tough times of the 1970s we slashed fixed investments in America. Reagan took them down again. The recession provided an opportunity to fix that, borrowing at low rates to inexpensively rebuild infrastructure using unemployed workers. Instead Obama has reduced them yet again, investing instead in war (e.g., the F-13, conflicts in Afghanistan and a dozen other places). A nation investing less than 3% of GDP on fixed investments cannot remain great. It’s living on the work of past generations.
We are having an election. Journalists and our political elites prefer that we discuss trivia and exchange insults. Instead let’s ask the candidates hard questions about our actual problems — and demand action.
The political machinery bequeathed to us by the Founders lies idle, but remains powerful should we wish to use it. Let’s give our children an America better than the one we inherited, as our fore-bearers did for us.
For More Information
- A look at the future (it’s already here, but it’s not in the USA).
- Why America’s growth is slowing, and a solution.
- A parable of America today – subways here and around the world.
- Portraits of a nation in decline. An unnecessary and easily fixed decline.
- The evolution of the Republican Party has shaped America during the past fifty years — Origin of the “starve the beast” policy to weaken America.