Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “roads”

Please, Stop Whining About Spending! – Tom Rossi

The words “tax” and “spend” get thrown around a lot by our beloved politicians – especially by the Republicans. The simpletonistic, cave-man assumption we are all to follow along with is: “Taxes bad, spending bad. Ugh! Atouk zugzug Lana!”

The idea actually is pretty simple – government spending necessitates taxes, and the more taxes, the less money in your pocket. Fair enough, but also myopic.

Everyone, except a handful of fringe lunatics, agrees that some spending is necessary. In general, Democrats believe we have to spend money on some kinds of public health programs and things like that, while Republicans always seem to think we need a more military might.

Right there, something should become obvious – not all spending is created equal. What surprises me is that the anti-spending crowd is opposed to moderate spending now, that would prevent mega-spending becoming necessary later. Now we’re talking about my favorite word: infrastructure.

America’s infrastructure is in a sorry state. That isn’t some nutty, liberal viewpoint, it’s the opinion of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Here’s the report card they gave the U.S. in 2009:

2009 Grades

Aviation D

Bridges C

Dams D

Drinking Water D-

Energy D+

Hazardous Waste D

Inland Waterways D-

Levees D-

Public Parks and Recreation C-

Rail C-

Roads D-

Schools D

Solid Waste C+

Transit D

Wastewater D-

America’s Infrastructure GPA: D
Estimated 5 Year Investment Need: $2.2 Trillion

Why do I always harp about this? Because these elements are the life’s blood of America. The individual pieces of our infrastructure are aging and deteriorating, and it will eventually cost us… big.

Even the most hardcore of bottom-liners have to see that our economy will utterly fail if our water, transportation, flood control, energy, waste, and educational systems and facilities start to falter with increased frequency. And, at this point, we’re not even talking about preventative maintenance. We’re trying to keep up with massive failures.

How do you treat your own home, and your own car? Car owners know that skipping their oil changes at “Jiffy Lube” to save $35 will most likely lead to a ruined engine, at a cost just slightly higher than $35.

Homeowners know that “saving” the expense of fixing a little leak in the roof that appears one day will certainly mean a nightmare, where the entire roof will have to be replaced and the house will probably suffer water damage.

Fixing water pipes or levees before they burst, fixing bridges before they fall into the river, and repairing roads before they completely shut down transportation can save ten times what these repair jobs cost.

And the dollar-cost isn’t anywhere near the whole story. Any of these infrastructure failures causes huge logistical catastrophes, as well. Imagine what it would be like if the bridge or the freeway you take to work was out of commission for 6 months, or if you had to go without running water for as long.

floodCapture

Another big reason to start investing more in our infrastructure is that it would create many, many jobs. We could put Americans to work physically fixing America. Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it? And it wouldn’t be giving away money for the sake of it, it would be directly improving our country in so many ways.

I’m tired of all the anti-spending ranting. We need more spending, not less. We just need to focus our spending on constructive activities.

-Tom Rossi

___________________________________________________________________________

Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

___________________________________________________________________________

America – Spaced Out? – Tom Rossi

One of the things Mitt Romney and Republicans like to whine about, lately, concerning President Obama is the end of the space shuttle program. They claim that it’s just another example of how Obama just doesn’t care about the glory of America.

It’s interesting, because the Republicans, at the same time, seem to think that every “unnecessary” cent of government spending should be cut. The shuttle program has cost the United States taxpayers over $200 billion. And while this figure is dwarfed by our war habit, which costs somewhere between $1 billion and $2.7 billion per day and has gone on for years.

Nonetheless, $200 billion is a nothing to sneeze at – especially for a program that has little benefit for the typical, middle-class family.

Well, maybe. Just what could $200 billion get that might be better for the average person than a whole lotta’ “gee whiz” value? Republicans are always making noise about abortion, but don’t want to do anything but ban it. They don’t want to address the causes and the reasons that women have abortions at all – for one, the economic catastrophe that raising a small child can be for a family (or especially single mom) with limited income.

Child day-care costs around $250 per week, give or take $150 or so. $200 billion would pay for 800 million weeks of day care, at that rate, or about 35 weeks for every single child aged 0 to 5 years that currently lives in the United States. 

Want something more… concrete? As it stands, the U.S. annual highway repair bill is just over $70 billion per year. That falls way short of the $186 billion that would actually improve our highways to the point where we weren’t playing catch-up with aging and deterioration. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimate our infrastructure backlog (roads, water pipes, electrical systems, bridges, etc.) at $2.2 trillion.

Fixing these problems would mean jobs. I’m one who is fascinated by the space program, but I’d trade it right in for reliable systems on which American lives and livelihoods depend. This is one decision on which I agree with President Obama. $200 billion is too steep a price for gee-whiz value and some trickle-down technological advances that make things like a faster iPhone possible. As I always say, we need to prioritize.

-Tom Rossi

___________________________________________________________________________

Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

___________________________________________________________________________

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: