America’s Crumbling Infrastructure

Yet again we are reminded that the United States has not invested enough in maintaining and expanding the national infrastructure since the New Deal/Postwar Era. As a result, bridges collapse, sewage systems overflow, and parks go to seed, among other things. This opinion piece from the New York Times from fall 2012, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, makes the case in strong terms.  There have been several waves of investment in new infrastructure in American history, each one helping to leverage a period of expansion and prosperity: the Canal Era, the Railroad booms (2 or 3, in fact), the Progressive era in the cities, and the New Deal/Postwar era. Our current political class have forgotten how vital such national investment is, and it is part of the purpose of the Living New Deal to remind them by showcasing the brilliant legacy of New Deal public works, both functional and, in many cases, beautiful.

Richard A Walker is the director of the Living New Deal.

One comment on “America’s Crumbling Infrastructure

  1. Andrew Laverdiere

    Dear Professor. While I am certain that we agree with the urgent need of our political leaders *cough* to address the pathetic state of our nations infrastructure, I could easily point to the equally pathetic state of economic academia by which our political leaders get their knowledge of how to write legislation. In the rarefied air of Evans Hall for instance, where are the professors discussing the finer points of the lost art of capital budgeting? I dare you to name me one professor who has challenged the monetarist orthodoxy of lifeboat economics, scarce resources, Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, man-as-an-animal, and the tradition bequeathed to us by an ancient system of Imperialism, slavery, and usury. Where is the American System of Alexander Hamilton and Henry Carey by which all periods of real development that you mentioned have occurred, especially John Quincy Adams, Lincoln, FDR and Kennedy taught? We live in a state that is the most heavily developed in terms of the water infrastructure that transformed mostly barren wasteland into the most productive agricultural and industrial producer in the country; by “big government” no less, yet, worship of the financial system, gambling, and the environment remain obstacles to building anything of lasting importance as demonstrated by the unending sabotage lawsuits that prevent anything from being done, combined with the usurious rates of “investment” that the modern robber barons in lower Manhattan sell their paper.

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