Monday, September 29, 2008

An Old Fix for a New Economic Problem

Anyone remember studying the CCC initiative from the Great Depression era? We could use it now. There are scores of reports pointing to aging and/or failing infrastructure within our national borders. Bridges, Dams, Levees, Runways, Railways, Highways, Parks, Resevoirs, and so on.

With unemployment numbers climbing, foreclosures rising, credit markets freezing up, you'd think it was a no-brainer. Get people back to work and get them spending again. That's what we need. Handing money to banks isn't going to fix this mess. That's not going to make any "average" American start spending again. This "bail-out" is only a partial solution (if even "any" solution).

We need a lot of improvements done and most of the generation that engineered, supported, constructed and administered those amazing things are gone or retired now. We need to re-invigorate our engineering and innovative skill base, not to mention priming the economic pump from supplier to manufacturer to logistics to finance to staffing and so on. Why not????

I can name at least ten metropolitan areas that do NOT have any viable mass transit system that works. They could benefit from being outfitted with a light rail system or something like that. Widen choke highway systems. Replace failing bridges. Add tunnels where bridges are becoming a choke point. DO SOMETHING! Quit the political fingerpointing and backroom dealing crap. Stop screwing the working folks and maybe find a way to put them to work fixing problems that THEY can benefit from.

The saddest part of this? NONE of this is new. Nothing. It's all been done before. Yet nobody seems to be suggesting this in the press. Fix the banks. That's their only concern. I often feel like I'm screaming in a vacuum about this, but I know I'm not alone. Thomas Friedman wrote a great piece on this in the NYT last Friday. I left off power grids and a few things he thought of, but I would also add in a nationwide interconnected piping system for water allocation. Why not? When one place is flooded for weeks on end, yet another is suffering drought, just pump the water around to even things out. It is POSSIBLE. In fact, based on our existing oil conduit system - it's already being done. Talk about things we COULD do, holy cow. The sky is the limit. Imagination and innovation used to be American qualities. Let's get them back!
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