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The History International channel had an interesting documentary last night. The show was about our crumbling infrastructure. Noting the ages of many bridges, roads, and other areas of our transportation system, the narrators compared our situation with the crumbling ruins of previous empires.
While China and India are spending nearly 10% of their budgets on infrastructure, the United States is generally spending around 2%, according to the documentary. The great Obama “stimulus” which we were told was a “must have” evidently spent about 9% on infrastructure. The rest was spent on a collection of OBVIOUSLY more “important” things like signs which were little more than taxpayer funded Democrat political ads, turtle crossings in Florida, etc. Even the turtles couldn’t be bothered using these crossings, preferring to cross the road and frequently get killed as usual.
I’m confused here. See, when Obama flew all over the country, polluting the environment with carbon that causes global warming/global climate change/global cooling/too much snow/too little snow/just enough snow/shrinking polar icecaps/problems for polar bears/rising oceans/lowering oceans/evaporating oceans/freezing oceans/lectures from Al Gore/inconvenient movies/climate change conferences attended by elites with private jets/liberal term du jour so Obama could read speeches from his trusty teleprompter, he frequently spoke about “shovel ready projects.” He even read lines about fixing roads and bridges. I guess people assumed this was going to be a major portion of the “stimulus,” not just 9%. On the other hand, I suppose as long as they spent one tenth of one percent of the so-called “stimulus” on infrastructure, how could anyone help it if Obama’s teleprompter speeches happened to just concentrate on that?
But now I’m further confused. So little is spent on infrastructure. But yet whenever anyone even brings up the idea of reducing the size of government, the kneejerk reaction from the big government fans usually revolves around dire predictions about roads no longer being taken care of and such. Seriously, in Michigan they’re letting some streets revert back to dirt roads. Very little is being spent on infrastructure as it is. Can’t we just cut elements of the average 98% that is being spent on other things, like Obama’s travel budget, the bail out budget, the Congressional “fact finding missions” to various vacation spots (like Pelosi’s photo op with the Pope and visit to art museums in Rome), the endless “stimulus” plans, etc.?
Aw heck. Let’s forget about the government doing things it is supposed to do such as maintaining infrastructure. Instead, let’s just spread government out into things it’s not meant to do such as getting involved in the details of individual decisions about health care, bailing out failed businesses, supporting rich union fatcats, worrying about baseball, building turtle crossings while our bridges for humans crumble, and doing other “important” things like that. What? Not enough money for all these things? Tax the rich! What? The rich have run out of money paying for government extravagances? Well, the middle class are then “the rich” and they should be made to pay. Meanwhile, the infrastructure continues to crumble because politicians and bureaucrats don’t see it as a priority.
Government is very necessary. But it is necessary to do specific things. Boring as they may be, these basics are necessary and need the attention of the bureaucrats. It seems as though well paid government bureaucrats are pushing these things aside (as we can see in the budgets) so they can concentrate on the more “interesting” areas like taking greater control over our lives.
So right now, bureaucrats are letting infrastructure take a back seat to getting government tentacles into new areas. Assume for a moment that lack of attention to infrastructure will NOT bring about disaster. Let’s think about the fleeting attention of bureaucrats. Right now, they’ve got health care. Once this gets all built up with even greater government control over health care, what happens when bureaucrats get bored of that? Once the those who say we have a right to a (mediocre) government provided house and (mediocre) government provided food win out, what happens to health care when the challenge to totally dominate it is over? Will it crumble like our infrastructure? Well, big government does not have the best track record.
It’s kind of like auto insurance. You get better rates when you’re new to a particular provider. When your policy is up for renewal, they don’t usually go out of their way to give you a better deal. The government already had the boring infrastructure to deal with. Who needs to give that any kind of attention? No, just recently they had to sell us on ObamaCare. Now that that has been sold, we’re starting to see all the problems associated with it. Well, as soon-to-be EX Speaker Pelosi said, we had to pass the bill to find out what was in it. But, we’re stuck with it now….and we will be for quite a long time.
Ultimately, we’re going to have to invest in infrastructure. Budgets are going to need to be reoriented to put a great deal more into these areas. We can only “tax the rich” — and eventually everyone else — for so many big government boondoggles. Infrastructure, as a basic and necessary function of government, is going to have to take priority over all the other ideas to grow the reach of government.