An Investment in the Future
It is said that Eisenhower brought home the Autobahn; that he foresaw the need for airports. Let us say that President Eisenhower, seeing these needs for infrastructure, brought America into the 20th Century, and say, “Thanks, Ike.” Through the years, the interstate gave everyone access to work, to recreation, to their Doctor, to the shopping mall, … ; Today, for these same reasons and more, every household should have good access to the internet, and, have a few other good things.
Before Eisenhower, President Roosevelt’s New Deal and its kin employed the unemployed of the Great Depression to build a lot of infrastructure, much of which is still in use today, nearly one-hundred years later. New Deal infrastructure included: safe clean water supplies, electricity, telephones, roads which need work done by experts by Road Marking Removal Hitchin, schools, libraries, universities, parks, hydroelectric and irrigation dams, … . All of these things improved our quality of life. Imagine the 20th Century without them. Imagine today without them. Imagine life without recreation, recreation without those hiking trails. Our National Parks without conservation. Quality of life is important. Infrastructure improves our quality of life.
Imagine life without clean safe drinking water in our homes, our schools; without working sewers, electricity, postal service, and telephones. Unfortunately, for some of us, that is all too easy. Bringing these systems up to snuff would be a really good place for President Biden to start. These are some of the things that need to be done in order catch up, to maintain the status quo. In the 20th we needed interstates and airports, waste water treatment, water treatment, …. These are still much a part of the way forward in this, the early 21st Century. Of late, and for some time now, nothing much has been done about most of these things. There are many roads and bridges that need to be repaired or replaced, water lines that need to be replaced, …, upgrades to water and sewage treatment plants that need be made. Better that these repairs and upgrades be done simultaneously. The other needed improvements to housing such as roofing, HVAC and other remodeling projects will need the best local contractors to be hired. In order to complete your own project, we recommend to look at this site and check their coverage zones.
As surely as interstate highways and airports led us forward in the mid-twentieth, research and development, education, communication, healthcare, … will take us forward in the 21st Century and beyond. In order to just stay even, we need to always be looking as far ahead as we can.
That was then along with some of the catching up needed. Now, President Biden needs to look to our infrastructural needs to bring us into the 21st and beyond. Beyond those roads and runways of the 1950s, what is all else is to be included in this we call infrastructure? What are some of the infrastructural needs of today? Equally important, what will be those of tomorrow?
Climate Change is the greatest, the most immediate threat, facing all humans today. If we do not arrest the progression of global warming, we will not be advancing. Instead, our species will be fighting to survive. If we are to thrive, to even survive, as a nation, as a species, we must deal with Climate Change. Ergo, infrastructure must address the consequences of climate change. We will need to avoid making costly mistakes such as building on what are to become flood plains; we will need to relocate away from these areas. We will need new ways of storing drinking water, of treating drinking water, of treating sewage. We need to think anew our means for energy distribution.
We must get off fossil fuels. What will energy distribution look like in a non-fossil fuel world? What forms of energy will we be distributing? We need to rapidly develop alternative sources of energy, better ways to store energy. From the private automobile, to airlines, to mass transportation, to freight; we should be looking at new means of of powering transportation systems.
Evergreen Lines’ newly freed Ever Given is 1300 ft long and carries 10,000 40ft, or 20,000 20ft, containers (the equivalent of 10,000 fully loaded 18 wheeler big rigs). At sea, her 80,000 HP diesel engine moves her along at almost 23 knot/hr. That’s one hell of a lot of CO2 being emitted per hour. So is that being emitted by the 10,000 big rigs that brought and will take away all those containers. At what point did the chasing of cheap labor go too far? Do we really need to haul stuff half-way around the world? Why not build consumer goods closer to the point of consumption? Why aren’t we all a bit more self sufficient?
To the extent we do continue shipping huge quantities of goods and materials across countries, around the world, we will need new types of non-greenhouse gas emitting drive power for this transport. If we are to continue air travel at current and projected volumes, aircraft will need a different means of propulsion. This means that R&D itself should be much a part of our infrastructure going forward. While significant progress is being made in replacing CO2 emitting internal combustion engines in automobiles, more needs to be done more quickly. Again, more R&D. The task at hand is much bigger, more important, than the Manhattan Project.
The COVID-19 pandemic has but accelerated an already rapid pace of change. Amazon has grown faster; retail has changed faster. Schools will never be the same. Healthcare will never be the same. Airline travel will never be the same. Commuting to work will never be the same. Commercial real estate will never be the same. Mass transit will never again be as before. Global trade will never be the same. Und so weiter. What changes to infrastructure will be needed due all these changes?
Mark Benioff, Salesforce, founder, CEO, says that his company manufactures software (Go ahead, take the minute). He’s right of course. Software doesn’t need an interstate carrier, an airliner, a container ship. Software manufacture requires trained and educated people to write it; needs a world wide web to distribute it, and trained and educated persons to employ it. Benioff says that because of the pandemic, all 70,000 of Salesforce’s US employees are working from home. Infrastructure for tomorrow needs include an adequate internet, education, education, and training. While we focus on Research and Development. Going forward, it is R&D that will lead the way, R&D will that provide solutions. In order to effectively address the here and now, the future, of infrastructural needs, we as a nation, the world, must invest in — Research and Development.
Eisenhower also was part of the Army’s transcontinental motor convoys.
Yes, Eisenhower reflects a time when some Republicans cared about something other than stuffing their owners pockets with cash and fear mongering. It’s worth remembering though that Eisenhower approved the effort to overthrow a Democratically elected government in Iran that’s one of the reasons there’s now a theocratic regime in power in Tehran.
My grandfather “dug ditches and filled them back up” for the WPA during the depression. That was constructing the sewer system in the town where my parents lived when they were first married.
Well into the 80’s we went to the fair exhibition buildings at the LA county fair, build courtesy of the WPA, and my childhood made several trips to the San Diego Zoo, also largely built by the WPA.
The interstate highway system was to promote commerce, they said, but millions of us made the trips back home and blessed Ike for them. When I was a child you could tell by the road feel when you hit the interstate vs Route 66.
All of those investments in infrastructure paid dividends for decades, in more ways than were originally imagined tangible and intangible. It is well past time that we remembered that.
If all we are going to do is repair bridges and repave interstates, I don’t see the point. It will happen eventually anyway, and the administration would end up spending a couple years searching for “shovel-ready” projects like the last couple times we rang this bell.
Thankfully it sounds like there is more to it, but if they’re going to play around looking for Republican votes, we probably end up with 700b in road repairs looking for projects again.
Ken, you have adequately expressed the enormity of the infrastructure needs of the country and the vision of future demands and changes we must face. Sadly, with all of our riches and intellectual capabilities, we have no governing structure that is even close to being able to address these needs.
There is no incentive for Congress to solve problems. The only incentive is for one party to make problems worse for the other party to gain political advantage & power. Our governing structure is not even capable of understanding the collective wisdom of a face mask during a worldwide pandemic and has shown itself willing to sacrifice the lives of hundreds of thousands of fellow Americans and deny voting rights to millions in an effort to gain that political power and advantage.
Our ability to govern in accordance with the wishes of the vast majority of our citizens (guns, voting, climate, healthcare, civil rights, infrastructure, etc) is stymied by an intricate web of entangled rules crafted and evolved over decades to address various dubious and nefarious politically-based situations and considerations.
The latest example of continuing to tighten the knot of absurdity in political decision making is the discussion of the filibuster and intimations by the Joes (Biden & Manchin) that they both may support a “talking filibuster” of ambiguous value. Meanwhile Senator Schumer is digging deep into the tangled web and has uncovered an little-known, alternative strand of madness where if we can convince the Senate Parliamentarian (who’s that?) to rethink rule interpretations we may be able to use the already befuddled “reconciliation” process to further the convoluted process of making political decisions that are already supported by majorities of the general public. Who knew the future of our democracy could rest in the hands of one, non-elected, Congressional staffer serving at the pleasure of the party in power? (I know it’s only an “advisory” decision.) We are pursuing these bizarre alternatives because the Senate is hamstrung by an antiquated rule that is being manipulated and abused solely to obstruct thoughtful decision making.
As we contemplate our plight in addressing the extraordinary issues confronting our country and the world it is exceedingly frustrating to realize that many of our problems with governing and making sound, rational, fact-based political decisions lies within a nine (9) word sentence in our Constitution — Article I, Section 5, Clause 2. “Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings.”
We can only assume that the Founders thought the Members of the House and Senate would be capable of dealing with this seemingly routine administrative task. However, they have proven over and over again that they are incapable of developing consistent, uniformly applied rules for the good of the public or the country — only for the good of the party and to further political power and control. And, when a party is in power, if an existing rule gets in the way, it is simply amended or ignored for the day. Then “revenge” party politics take place with the next change of political power — and on and on it goes.
If we expect our democracy and country to survive, we simply cannot continue to govern and address major issues with these ever-changing, politically developed rules of proceeding. While other solutions may be possible, I have suggested as a starting point an independent, National Commission On Congressional Rules, whose purpose shall be to review, revise, amend and establish baseline rules of proceedings for the U.S. House and Senate [https://tinyurl.com/5f8kh3s8].
Be bold Joe, be very bold.
Biden introduces his infrastructure plan, calling it ‘a once-in-a-generation investment in America.’
As bad as we need an infrastructure bill, and have for at least a decade, it will not happen. With widespread public support, President Biden has proposed what seems to be a reasonable, yet game-changing, infrastructure plan and a way to pay for it.
87 percent support repairing roads and bridges — including 84 percent of Republicans.
85 percent support repairing drinking water systems — including 80 percent of Republicans.
79 percent support improving broadband in rural communities — including 72 percent of Republicans.
68 percent support building and promoting pollution-free public transit — including a 49 percent plurality of Republicans.
72 percent support modernizing the electrical grid with clean energy infrastructure — including 56 percent of Republicans.
68 percent support cleaning up abandoned gas wells and mines — including 56 percent of Republicans.
71 percent support weatherizing homes and buildings for better energy efficiency — including 59 percent of Republicans.
77 percent support modernizing schools and early learning centers — including 67 percent of Republicans.
Out of the gate, Republicans say it’s too expensive and a trojan horse for tax increases and climate change. Progressive Democrats say it’s too little, too late and way short of funding.
It doesn’t matter what the public wants (remember gun control), it’s just party over country. Infrastructure DOA. Government continues without the ability to make rational decisions.
Biden’s infrastructure plan calls for tax increases, and that’s a good thing
But, “Oh, Noes!” cry the Republicans.
“It will take eight years to build the infrastructure, and then FIFTEEN years to pay back the DEBT!”
You see, us capitalists know you can’t borrow money to build something that takes less time to build than it does to pay for borrowing the money.
And, Of Course how long that infrastruture benefits us has nothing to do with the equation.
It’s like the debt run up by the Continental Congress, or World War 2. What benefit is that to us today?
Definitely a crushing burden on our children.
Here’s the problem with that. Ike had just fought a huge war, at the end of which it looked like the Soviet Union (never mind the “commie” angle) was jockeying for power in the middle east. Engineering a “revolution” to prevent that was no doubt a wrong. Losing control of mideast oil might have been seen as a bigger wrong if we now had to contend with an agressive superpower who had control of it.
I’m all for morality, and not a big fan of empire, but sometimes you…or at least someone…have to think about these things.
Don’t wanna sound like a neocon…they overplay the issue and do more and worse bad things than they need to… but in a world where conflict is inevitable (their bad guys are as bad as our bad guys) winning the “great game” is probably better than losing it.
there isn’t much hope of getting anything done as long as there are people who begin with the proposition that the other side (the Framers?)is an intricate web of entangled rules crafted and evolved over decades to address various dubious and nefarious politically-based situations and considerations.”
you might find it instructive to consider what would happen if there were no rules to protect minorities from majorities.
i suspect the problem is not so much with our (fore-)fathers as with ourselves: we have elected some pretty bad people… which can and will happen under any system of rules if we let it happen.
“These investments in America are true supply-side measures — increasing the productivity of the economy, even increasing returns to private-sector investments…”
brilliant. I hope it catches on.
NY Times – Paul Krugman – April 1