To progressively grow as an economy, a country cannot run without adequate and superior infrastructure. America’s infrastructure though, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2017 Infrastructure Card, was rated a D+ with various categories ranging from a B score in rail, to a D- in transit. This infrastructure, mostly built in throughout the 20th century, has failed to keep up with the nation’s economic needs. Whether you believe in a free market system or a complete democratic socialist system, failure to maintain infrastructure will hold us back in the future.
In 1935, the Works Progress Administration (WPA), founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, employed millions of people to massively build up the infrastructure across the nation that is still in use today. Implemented during the Great Depression, the WPA helped alleviate the problems of many, but most importantly, it gave people hope. The program typically helped pay for wages while the private sector would pick up the rest of the tab. It had its flaws, such as not employing many women or African-Americans.
The nation’s current infrastructure is deteriorating and even in the state of Mississippi, countless bridges have been closed, as NBC News cited earlier this year. Implementing a new version of the WPA would put millions to work and further reduce the unemployment rates by offering living wage jobs rather than the massive increase of low wage jobs in recent years.
The infrastructure report card asks for over 2 trillion dollars over the next 10 years, and while the White House has previously talked about such issues in the budget, the program needs to speed up with a massive program, rather than spreading out projects over multiple decades. If the federal government can afford multibillion-dollar jets or government subsidies on farm food, then it can afford to fix infrastructure that is a detriment to the entire nation’s economy.
Our airports are a laughing stock to the world, like LaGuardia airport in New York City where then Vice President Joe Biden said that it seemed like living in a “third world country.” He went on to say, “Why did we lead the world economically for so long? We had the most modern infrastructure in the world,” according to Biden’s interview with NY Daily News in 2014.
These fixes and investments won’t be cheap, of course, with Business Insider stating that almost $4.5 trillion in repairs would have to be completed by 2025 to fix the country’s infrastructure.
Bipartisanship in this effort would be most beneficial given that three quarters of Americans would support an increase in taxes, as long as it would be for infrastructure projects only. Given politics’ focus of being involved primarily in foreign affairs, this would allow a moment of redemption among the general populace in terms of crossing the aisle for a chance of compromise on the domestic side.
This is not asking for “more government” but more accountability from our politicians, an actual vision that the silent majority can get behind, and for some, it’s about the glory of it all, rather than just the honorable mention in global political talk. Our infrastructure is a dire disaster and given that there are Americans still unemployed or underemployed here in Mississippi and across the nation, without a doubt it would be ideal to implement a practical and efficient plan in the near decade rather than a century.
Jonathan Lovelady is a senior sociology and geology major from Los Angeles.