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The Crumbling Of America
By Ed Driscoll · August 4, 2007 12:12 PM · The Future and its Enemies

In the wake of the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Nicole Gelinas explores "Our precious infrastructure inheritance and how we’re squandering it":

If the fifties were the decade of infrastructure, the sixties were the decade of entitlements and social services—and the sixties haven’t ended. Just five years ago, a Republican Congress scrambled to add a huge new prescription-drug benefit to the 1965 Medicare program. Even when we do spend money on infrastructure, it often suffers from confusion of purpose. Congress treats federal transportation bills as opportunities for political earmarks, rather than for rational growth. And states see infrastructure projects as ways to funnel money to politically favored contractors and powerful construction unions, rather than as worthwhile undertakings to be done as efficiently and effectively as possible.

At the state level, Medicaid spending dwarfs infrastructure spending, and most governors don’t sound the alarm. One exception is California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who expressed grave concern about his own state’s levees in the months after Katrina, and who won voter approval last year to float tens of billions in bonds to fund infrastructure upgrades. But Schwarzenegger and California’s legislature don’t want to cut back on anything else to pay for that investment, preferring both bridges and butter—and that’s not sustainable for long.

As Gelinas writes, "Our future obligations continue to grow while the assets that we have—gifts from the past—deteriorate. Every year that we refuse to confront the problem, we fall farther behind."

(I-35 bridge video via Capt. Ed.)

Update: "Of Pork And Bridges".

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