Crumbling American infrastructure is starting to pop up even in developed areas. This is not an issue of ye olde dam in a backwoods region bursting to drown five yokels. There are bridges, dams, and roads in the Acela corridor of America falling apart or standing brittle, just waiting for a test from Mother Nature. Train derailments are both killing passengers on trains and creating ecological problems due to oil spills. This has been on the public’s mind since the bridge collapse in Minnesota in 2007, and the New York Times is finally on it. In what looks to be a preview for the future of America, the cover up of our decline will come from the top-down and be a partially engaged issue.
The article starts with a human interest bit to strike you emotionally, in order to let you, the reader, know that you, too, can be a victim of this problem. The lawyer of the person, who was not harmed but still received a settlement from the government for the accident, describes how this needs to be dealt with now. The Times then hits the reader with the harsh truth:
From coast to coast, the country’s once-envied collection of bridges, dams, pipelines, sewage treatment plants and levees is crumbling. Studies have shown that a lack of investment in public infrastructure costs billions of dollars a year in lost productivity, as people sit in traffic or wait for delayed shipments.
The Times’ truth is real and a problem that will accelerate as these projects age. The great tap dance for the rest of the article is an explanation of why this was allowed to happen and why governments are unable to fund these needed investments.
It is not just roads. Old pipelines are at risk and new pipelines are not being built. Drinking water may not be potable 100% of the time. Dams and levees may break due to storms they were intending to protect against. Bridges might collapse, and in fact hundreds if not thousands of bridges need attention, repair, and possible replacement. The reason for not addressing this dire problem? States are strapped for dollars. Budgets are under pressure. Tax revenue just has not increased with the growth of America. This is the infrastructure of the seat of the empire, not some Third World nation.
Why are state revenues not enough, if this is year six of the economic recovery? If unemployment is at generational lows, why are income taxes not rising to match this job growth? Obama’s recovery is laid bare by this omission. The federal gas tax is described as not growing fast enough since Americans drive more fuel efficient cars compared to 1993. But that issue was not a problem for fifteen years, as Americans continued to drive more and more miles to make up for that efficiency (note the five-year lull in mileage during the Obama era). How could Americans be driving more fuel efficient cars if the Times is always criticizing American truck and SUV culture? The holes in the Times story are frequent and large. There is no recovery, and the states are struggling due to stalled revenues and expanded social service expenditures.
The Feds are on this, and money is being allocated. It is not enough, though, per the Times and their expert opinion. This is the same progressive Gospel that has encouraged open borders for decades, straining old infrastructure even further by adding millions of additional users to roads, bridges, and water/sewer systems. American cities faced a similar problem in the 1920s and 1930s, due to the prior immigration wave that crammed millions of immigrants into America’s eastern seaboard. There is no pause to consider the water problems that California faces that is not just due to drought, but due to environmental regulations and stuffing the state with millions of Mexicans for the Left’s gain.
The tap dancing continues. No one asks why the federal government’s Build America Bonds program was not enough to start projects. Those bonds created a federal subsidy that allowed states to borrow on taxable issues at a rate akin to their tax-free bonds. This must not have fixed the infrastructure issue. It is hard to even name one project of importance, necessity, or value built with the program. Why could states not rehabilitate and fix bridges? Why are there no specs or designs for replacement bridges, dams, and overpasses on file? It pushes a reader to wonder if those state departments and municipal divisions devoted to roads and highways are truly just paper shuffling, patronage jobs. The gigantic elephant in the room the Times dances around is the failure of the Obama stimulus.
With years to review the outcome, the Obama stimulus was a $750 billion handout to constituents with no idea on maintaining employment during the recession. Hundreds of billions went to unemployment, health care, and education. Health care and education were two of the sectors of the American economy that had grown significantly in the ’00s and weathered the recession far better than the productive sectors of the economy. Less than $100 billion was directed towards infrastructure projects. It is impossible to name a project on par with the infrastructure projects of the New Deal or Eisenhower’s transportation infrastructure overhaul of the 1950s. If there was anything of value, we would hear about it in the media weekly. The silence is damning.
This stimulus was all less than eighteen months after the media was priming the public for massive infrastructure investments after the Minnesota bridge collapse. There were billions if not trillions of dollars of infrastructure projects. This would have been an easy pitch to Americans in the spring of 2009. The money and will were there.
What was not there was the voter bloc. The construction industry devotes 60-75% of its campaign donations to the GOP, depending on election year. The Obama stimulus was comprised of handouts for the underclass and subsidies for education, health care, and alternative energy donors and voters. Solyndra was a clear case of American corruption. The firm donated to Obama’s 2008 campaign, received half a billion in federal loan guarantees, and then promptly went bankrupt in 2011. Solyndra helped with cash when Team Obama needed it. Same goes for the medical industry and the key to the Left: education. That is what matters.
This misallocation of potential spending and the making of decisions based on a voter coalition reveals the darker problem states and society faces. Federal government expenditures are at all time highs (by wide margins), yet they are not enough to fix this crumbling infrastructure crisis because the feds are pushing the money towards the Left’s needs. The states cannot pick up the tab because they, too, have social service expenditures that eat up their budgets, meaning there is little left over for broken roads.
Imperial war games and broken homes have taken priority. As the American empire finds new areas of concern, federal dollars for military industrial contractors are always found in budgets. Just this year, the Pentagon has watched as $1.5 billion in material and equipment has fallen into the hads of rebels in Yemen and Iraq. Half a billion dollars can be found to train a handful of Syrian rebels for a civil war no American wanted to enter. There is incredible value to healthy, happy families, but this was formerly handled and regulated by extended families and private institutions and clubs that enforced social norms and helped each other when difficulties arose. This broken- home-broken-world duel is a battle that the Left wins often by using guilt to appeal to sentiment and the heart over hard lessons and the mind. Society and government are oriented to coddle the underclass and protect them from the consequences of their poor decisions, while the world crumbles around us all.
Perhaps this is how the West dies. A heroin-addicted single mom gets to hug her kid who is back from a CPS division that dutifully watched her kid, but she’s sitting on free furniture in a city that lies in ruins because of blowback from foreign meddling. The media will cheerfully announce that mother and son are reunited in the human interest bloc on the nightly news right after announcing the bridge collapse on I-95 that killed thirty.