This one really should be a no-brainer
Herald Staff Writer
American conservatives traditionally spend a great deal of energy in hand-wringing over how much government, at all levels, spends. To the extent they are sincere about this, the concern is warranted. Red ink on the whole is a bad thing, whether in the public or the private sector.
But there are times when going into debt is warranted. When the borrowed money has strong potential to return greater dividends, “debt” has another name: “leverage.”
The lever, a prehistoric tool, endures tens of thousands of years after its discovery because it works. It multiplies effort manyfold to produce results. In the case at hand, the result is the nation’s infrastructure and the lever is some $2 trillion in taxpayer money.
The price tag on the president’s plan is jaw-dropping on its face but a little perspective is in order. The United States is a massive country, spanning a continent with additional footholds in the Caribbean and Pacific. Tying it all together is a complex network of highways, bridges, canals, railroads, ports and airports which form the block of an engine driving a $30 trillion economy.
And it’s aging and falling apart. Bridges falling into rivers made national news. Right in our own back yard, a bridge collapsed in a storm in 2019 and is still not fixed. Three political entities are pointing at each other as the responsible party because none really has the resources to handle the project.
The root cause is a near 50-year ascendancy of the “taxation is theft,” “government is the problem” mentality which short-sightedly stripped government of all levels of the means to care for this massive and complex engine. As a result, the American Society of Civil Engineers forecasted in 2017 that by 2025, the U.S. would shed $3.9 trillion in gross domestic product and 2.5 million jobs due to its crappy infrastructure. The choice seems rather clear: Invest $2 trillion now or throw nearly $4 trillion down a bottomless pothole. Note that this prediction, by the way, is without the groin shot the economy took from the pandemic.
Few things the government does have the predictable, tangible return on the investment that infrastructure projects have. Solid infrastructure makes solid commerce and building it creates thousands of jobs in the short term. Why is anyone, of any political persuasion, fighting this?