Friday, February 29, 2008

America's Collapsing Infrastructure

This is something that disturbs me to no end. From Foreign Affairs:

The United States' aging infrastructure compounds the risk of
destruction and disruption. One of the rationales for building the interstate
highway system was to support the evacuation of major cities if the Cold War
turned hot; in 2006, the year the system turned 50, Americans spent a total of
3.5 billion hours stuck in traffic. Public works departments construct
"temporary" patches for dams, leaving Americans who live downstream one major
storm away from having water pouring into their living rooms. Bridges are
outfitted with the civil engineering equivalent of diapers. Like the occupants
of a grand old mansion who elect not to do any upkeep, Americans have been
neglecting the infrastructure that supports a modern society.

Early this week, I spent about 3hrs on I-95 from SC into North Carolina, and was astonished at the poor condition of this extremely vital East Coast Hwy, running from North to South. It must bring great wealth to the towns and cities on its long spiraling route, yet most of the rural roads I drive on a regular basis are far better maintained than this.The Interstate was bedeviled with pot holes and quick patches. Thinking the going might be easier as I crossed the border of our richer northern neighbor, I was astonished to discover it was far worse! At one point, I was forced to travel in the fast lane for several miles in order to avoid damage to my tires.

Many people fault the high cost of Defense Spending for this tragic neglect of our bridges and highways. Those this may be true in part, the real culprit is so much of our vast wealth is siphoned into social spending like Medicare (33% of the budget) and Social Security (21% of budget), which eats up over half of federal spending, not to mention the vasts sums spent by the individual states. America is the world's most caring when it comes to the poor and needy, but pretty soon, there may not be much of a country left for our citizens to enjoy the blessings of liberty.