Construction of the current infrastructure was subsidized by the federal government, including the interstate highway system, locks, dams, bridges and water and sewage systems; however, the cost of maintenance and repair has increasingly fallen on the states and local authorities as the federal contribution has decreased over time.
President Obama wants to invest $50 billion to upgrade the infrastructure; however, he is also promising to cut the federal budget and to "live within our means." Senators Kerry, Hutchison and Warner recently proposed to invest $10 billion in an "infrastructure bank" that would encourage private investment in large building projects that will generate a return, such as toll bridges and tunnels.
These funds would be better used as a nest egg for an All-American Fund to encourage the private investment by millions of workers and small-business owners into public systems that provide a benefit for everyone instead of Wall Street bankers.
To avoid waste and corruption, the All-American Fund should establish a "national clearinghouse and database of infrastructure-related design and construction issues," and funding should be limited to projects that are comprehensively planned and are based on fixed price contracts.
Ensure the Future
The quality of life offered by the United States, and its infrastructure, has become a model for the rest of the world; however, it is both naive and arrogant for Americans to expect other people to risk their hard-earned money to pay for its maintenance.
It is time for the United States to do what it does best: come up with a better way to ensure the future of its children. An All-American Retirement System will do that, and it will help the U.S. to regain the respect and admiration of the world.
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