Failing infrastructure cannot support a thriving economy.
This is one of those fundamental things that Americans don't like to acknowledge. Everyone is wondering why the economy is having such a hard time turning around; then they're wondering why air travel is such a hassle, rail travel doesn't work, gasoline prices change and keep investors skittish, and the streets we drive are cratered with potholes. At the same time our economy bleeds money to traffic, and icy weather shuts down Southern economies unprepared to deal with snow. And that's before we start talking energy grids, levees, and the way we fund all of these projects.
Why is it so difficult to make the connections between the sluggish economy and the state of disrepair? Without working roads, you can't move your goods to market, and people can't get to the market to buy your goods. This should be a simple concept to grasp. But politics and ideologies have taken center stage, ahead of national, regional and local needs. You know all the talk of leaving debt to our children and grandchildren? We ain't leaving them a whole lot of usable stuff, either.
Now, there are a lot of folks out there who think we can grow our way into prosperity, and think spending money on infrastructure is solely the realm of pork-barrell politics. But without the infrastructure to support "growth," we'll never get out of the trough we're in (and have been in for more than a decade). Investments must be made, and we can't let those who equate the idea of sustainable development with Marxism dominate the investment options we have to examine.
Yes, too many past infrastructure projects have been politicized as pork, and used to trade political favors. That needs to stop. Lest we forget, this country has spend billions on "infrastructure" in the past decades, even as everything has fallen apart. Maybe it is time to think about the National Infrastructure Bank, because what we've currently got isn't working.