INFRASTRUCTURE IS A BIG DEAL, AND THE USA IS IN A DEEPER HOLE THAN EVER. CAN TRUMP FILL IT?
Infrastructure needs fixing, from local towns to interstate highways!
Like the president, I have traveled the world and have noticed the sorry state of America's aging, sometimes potholed interstate highways, aged inadequate airports, ancient electrical systems, and obsolete water systems. Oxford Economics projects that world-wide spending for infrastructure will increase to $78 trillion between now and 2025. Much of that will be spent on new infrastructure by nations such as China, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Germany and Japan. The USA, just to "repair and keep up," will spend least $5 trillion. The U.S. government under President Trump thus far has been distracted by expending energy and money attacking administrative departments of government or increasing military posturing and spending. In the meantime, infrastructure has been on the back burner. Our government leadership has been slow, indeed negligent, about fulfilling campaign promises on new infrastructure.
A recent Time magazine article attempted to summarize some infrastructure needs. Reports from numerous "think tanks," both Republican- and Democrat-oriented, have brought up the urgent need for infrastructure spending. We counted over 30 recently published articles on infrastructure needs and problems in a quick review of the internet. This could be a true bi-partisan project. All sources say the needs are more widespread than current projections. Back in the "homeland" the need is driven home when places such as the small town of Las Vegas, New Mexico, run out of water only to find out that hundreds of leaks in its water system and its 70-year-old dam were making for a seasonal drought issue, a crisis. The dam that was supposed to hold water for city use was cracked and had been leaking for years, perhaps decades.
The town's water supply, highly dependent upon snowmelt in the nearby mountains and ancient water canals built over a hundred years ago, suddenly was inadequate. When snowfall is scant, water does not flow from the mountains. Thus in "dry" years the town faces water shortages. This means little water to support industry or build new homes. Car washes don't do well in towns like Las Vegas, because there is little water to spare. So a $10 million seasonal problem turned into a $110 million problem, including plans for a new reservoir, all in an effort to assure that the town would survive. Multiply this relatively small problem of old crumbling infrastructure nationally by thousands, and you see what our nation faces.
Another example is a long stretch on the interstate highway system from Indiana to New Mexico, which I recently drove. The first 400 miles is pockmarked with cracks, holes and otherwise poorly maintained highway. Hit a gaping concrete crack or hole going 70 mph, and you clearly are jolted into the reality of infrastructure needs in the USA.
Here are estimates of infrastructure needs in the USA, information sources from some of the best researchers in America:
- Electricity grid and systems...........$ 736,000,000,000 (Billion)
- Water & wastewater.......................$ 126,000,000,000 (Billion)
- Railroads........................................$ 100,000,000,000 (Billion
- Airports..........................................$ 134,000,000,000 (Billion)
- Roads and bridges.........................$ 1,723,000,000,000. (Trillion)
- Ports and shipping.........................$ 30,000,000,000 (Billion)
- Schools...........................................$ 391,000,000,000 (Billion)
- Dams..............................................$ 21,000,000,000 (Billion)
- Levees and flood control................$ 80,000,000,000 (Billion)
- Public parks and recreation...........$ 238,000,000,000 (Billion)
- Hazardous and solid waste............$ 56,000,000,000 (Billion)
This list doesn't touch on the need for fiber optic systems and wireless systems throughout the nation to keep us technologically able to process data. We would think that a nation that largely invented digital data communications and the internet would have the best, the fastest internet in the world. But as I visit other nations, I observe that our internet systems often are slower than those in Hong Kong, Mongolia, India or the UAE.
Typical of America, we invest and develop wonderful ideas and systems and then give it away to other nations who often "tweak" our technology and then compete with us in global markets, using our own inventions. But in budget discussion, we have spent much of our fortune and treasure defending or fighting for other people around the globe while our own infrastructure ages and crumbles from lack of funds to keep it up. It seems that our enemies are content to "bleed" our nation as we see rotting infrastructure at home while we fight endless wars abroad. It is strange to me to see us building new highways and schools in Iraq, while our own schools and roads are suffering from lack of funds. Just the money that 20 of our cruse missiles cost, or the expense of building one of our giant bombs, could rebuild miles and miles of interstate highways or new bridges. We are told by economists that highways, bridges, communication systems and ports actually give an annual financial return to our economy of 10-30 percent. And we are letting this infrastructure crumble.
How many bridges will collapse while we are waiting on government leaders to do their jobs, take the lead and fix this?
Now of the above list of needs, we have to point out that past administrations have already funded or reserved $2.65 trillion to pay for much of it. The Obama Administration spent billions on infrastructure projects, but much of that was stalled because of "budget disputes." Much of what he did not spend was put in reserve, but our current government is not moving forward on this. In 2017 and 2018, we have pressing project needs that will cost $3.6 trillion. Some of these things have been put off for years, but now our infrastructure needs rebuilding.
But we are short $9.85 billion give or take a billion.
In a world view, the USA has been behind other nations as our infrastructure spending has decreased while our military spending has skyrocketed. We have been spending our money on bombs and letting our nation crumble. But China, Germany, Japan, and Canada have expanded infrastructure spending enormously. They seem to have a perspective that is practical and progressive.
It is time that our president show a positive and constructive side, as he promised our nation. Build something positive...like new infrastructure, as he repeatedly promised the American people.
With the electrical grid aging, roads potholed, airports aging, ports in decline, communications systems old and obsolete (and new technology needed), schools in temporary buildings, industrial transportation by rail ancient, plus so many other pressing needs, we need action, and the nation needs it right away.
Infrastructure repairs and rebuilding can be funded with increased toll fees, gas taxes, auto purchase taxes, or simple mileage-based road use fees. But no doubt our taxes and fees will be going up on both a national and local level. With the additional spending of $50+ billion on military expenses, perhaps $20+ billion for a Wall on the Mexican border, and huge expenses for additional security, there simply is not enough money in the federal budget to pay for another trillion worth of infrastructure expenses. You can count on the states and local cities realizing that they will end up having to pay for much infrastructure, and that will mean higher local taxes, on top of the higher national taxes to come. This will lead to new budget fights. Obama spent billions on emergency new projects and wanted to spend more on infrastructure, but ran into budget obstacles and government shut downs, due to the “no” philosophy of the extreme right wing of the Republican Party. Now it is time for our nation's elected officials to act more like Americans than ideologues of either party and realize that it is easier to destroy programs and to fight wars with little nations than it is to build and repair our own nation.
IT IS EASIER TO DESTROY PROGRAMS, DEPARTMENTS AND PROJECTS, AND IT IS EASIER TO FIGHT WARS WITH LITTLE NATIONS THAN IT IS TO BUILD AND REPAIR OUR OWN NATION.
The challenge we at Boothe Global Perspectives pose is this: How about doing something positive like actually building something...like desperately needed infrastructure?! Or will the Trump promise for "$1 trillion for infrastructure" be yet another broken promise like so many politicians throw out to hopeful Americans. Anyone can tear down. President Trump, we challenge you to keep this promise.
President Trump, THIS IS FOR YOU:
"HOW ABOUT BUILDING SOMETHING POSITIVE. AMERICANS OF BOTH PARTIES WILL GET BEHIND YOU. GIVE US SOMETHING TANGIBLE AND SHOW US WHAT YOU CAN DO IN BUILDING A NEW INFRASTRUCTURE. THIS COULD BE A LASTING LEGACY FOR THE TRUMP NAME. FOCUS ON IT AND MAKE IT HAPPEN."
We do not need more wars, we have had war constantly for 25 years with no tangible impact on the cultures of the Middle East. Nor have we seen an outpouring of affection from those people we fought for. Nor do we need to show the world that our military can shoot missiles and drop bombs, the world already knows that. American blood spilled on the soil of the Middle East is blood lost, and any mother would say that the life of her sons and daughters are more important than some war in the Middle East. They have their own problems and do a good job of killing their own. We count over 600 conflicts in the world, 70 percent of them are Muslim vs Muslims and 70 percent of the people killed in all of the world's conflicts are Muslims.
American bombs and missiles dropped on the homes of people in the Middle East do not provide any good thing for Americans.
American families might say: "We need roads and bridges, airports and good communications, to get to work and do our work for this great nation of ours."