On Sunday, “60 Minutes” ran this piece about how America’s infrastructure is falling apart, and no one in Congress (or the White House) has the political will to do something about it. The problem is that fixing all the bridges that are on the verge of falling, all the roads that need repair, and the railroad tracks and shipping ports that need to be upgraded — they all cost money, and the Federal Highway Fund is virtually gone.
The answer, which business and labor leaders agree on, is to raise the gas tax, which hasn’t changed in over 20 years — making the people and companies that wear out the infrastructure pay for its repair and upkeep — but you can’t put “raise” and “tax” in the same sentence around a politician without them breaking out in hives. If there were any true visionaries in Washington (I’ll pause while you laugh yourself silly), this wouldn’t be hard, because it’s a bipartisan issue that’s easy to frame for the public. The bottom line is that unless we want disasters to occur soon, we have to launch preventative action now. And there’s a positive byproduct of taking such action — it will create tens of thousands of jobs.
Sure, it would mean a decade of driving around orange cones, but I’d rather have that than have to avoid a section of major roadway because it fell down. Considering how reliant our entire economy is on our infrastructure (not just for moving people to work, but also for moving all the goods by truck, rail, and ship), this seems to be a no-brainer.
Unfortunately, so is Congress.