To Hell With Shovel Ready . . .

The sorry state of American infrastructure is once again our focus. This time the peg is the Oroville Dam in California. It is the U.S.’s tallest dam, and it is in trouble. An emergency spillway was damaged, causing evacuation of 188,000 Californians.

State and federal officials ignored the warnings of environmental groups who for more than a decade have been asking them to reinforce the dam’s spillway.

As regular readers know, failing infrastructure is a theme I’ve pounded on again, again and again.

How did we get to this sorry state? The short answer is partisan politics, informed by bad ideology and a focus on little more than the next election.

Does anything reflect the state of American short-termism more than the slow, inevitable decay and eventual failure of key components of our transportation, electrical, water and sanitation systems? These are the most basic services government provides. The inability to do what so many other developed nations do so much better is why I have called each of the past 10 Congresses “the worst ever.”

Both political parties are to blame — but rather than engage in the classic false equivalency debate, let’s consider how each has contributed to the current dismal state of affairs. I am not so much looking to cynically assess blame as I am to optimistically find the silver lining in this dark structural cloud.

Let’s go back a few years to 2009, when the new Barack Obama administration got Congress to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a stimulus package meant to blunt the recession touched off by the financial crisis. This $800 billion program was mostly about the very short term, and not about long-term investment.


Continues at: Failing Dam Is a Symbol of U.S. Infrastructure   




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