Back in the day, when you thought of the United States, you thought of big infrastructure projects. The Transcontinental Railroad. The Panama Canal. The Golden Gate Bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge. The Tennessee Valley Authority. The Hoover Dam. The New York Subway System. Railroads. Airports. The Interstates brought to you by Eisenhower. The nation of Japan and the whole of Western Europe.
Thinking back reminds us that we used to rebuild continents and defeated enemy nations because it was economically, socially and politically decided to do so, but at the same time our greatest 'nation building' projects could be found here at home. (DADVocate reminds us of this.)
So is it that they don't build 'em like they used to, or are we just not keeping them up like we used to? And when was it decided that we were going to stop paying attention? Because this affects us all. Drifting throught he Grift even has a map to share. But don't stop there, because this ain't just about bridges.
Levees fail and inundate an American city, steam pipes start exploding in New York City and a bridge falls in Minnesota. Think even further back: the Boston Big Dig started falling apart the week it opened, the entire North Eastern power grid shut off one day and California still can't get their water and energy issues straight. You think these things aren't related? You think somewhere along the lines, negligence to upkeep infrastructure isn't going to jump up and bite you in the ass? And don't try pointing a finger, because this problem is obviously bigger than one man or agency. It has turned from a red tape issue to a cultural one. Forget gay marriage and stem cells, forget which nation we will invade next (Iran or Pakistan?), we need to come down the hierarchy of needs pyramid a few dozen steps, Bubba, because we've got bigger fish to fry than advance culture war red herrings or projecting power abroad.
Vigilance and taxes are the price of freedom. They are also the price we pay to be the most connected nation in the world. One of the reasons this nation is a great nation is because sometime long ago we decided that we were going to work on big projects together in the public interest, and we set our minds to it and went out and did it. The solutions are not difficult to find, it is just making sure the solutions are being implemented - that's the catch.
We'd better start partying like its 1899 and get on this business before we actually end up being transported back to the 19th Century against our will. Riding the Mississippi River ferry was a novel experience last night, it does not need to become a necessity.