The first favor: read the editorial and its subject matter, thoughtfully mull it over, then pass it along for others to also consider. Before you send it on down the line, however ponder the fact that the War in Iraq, with its price tag nearing or surpassing $2 trillion is so sapping the common weal that the Dodd-Hagel scheme may be naught but a pipedream, and our inability to actually do what we must do to retain competitiveness in the global economy could very well send our sons and daughters and grandkids down the economic drainpipe.
The next favor: Google-search “Three Gorge Dam.” Or, if you’re too busy or lazy: (http://www.discoveryangtze.com/Yangtzediscovery/three_gorges_dam.htm) The dam backing up China’s Yangtze River will be the world’s largest dam, and its greatest hydroelectric power plant, replacing something like 140 coal-powered electric generating facilities or scores of nuclear plants, all of which rely on such a surfeit of water that 26 are currently in jeopardy of being shut down in our draught-plagued Southeast. I’m not getting into an argument over the ecological and cultural nuances. But it’s an indication of what China is doing to swell its economic future, as contrasted with what’s going on here. Another example is the Millau Viaduct, a new super bridge that spans the valley of the River Tarn in France. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millau_Viaduct)
The preceding examples are miracles of engineering, and testaments to how the rest of the world is taking the future seriously, while we struggle to parse a definition of “victory” that those of us who derive macho vicariously might be able to live with.
Anyway, I was thinking of all of this as I listened last evening to President Bush palaver over the miraculous progress we’re making in Iraq, and recalling how presidential aspirants Mitt Romney and Senator John McCain have pontificated endlessly how they would keep us there, “to avoid the losses we’re going to suffer, should we leave.”
I was also waxing sad, how it is that so many in this country can be so utterly blind to anything that doesn’t feed their need for machismo that, out of gross ignorance, they’ll toss their kids’ futures off the damn or the bridge.
January 29, 2008Op-Ed Columnist Investing in America By BOB HERBERT
On a quiet Wednesday morning last August, Senators Chris Dodd and Chuck Hagel held a news conference in Washington to discuss what they felt was a critical issue: the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure.
The press was not impressed. Only a handful of reporters showed up to listen to their contention that a real crisis was at hand. That evening, during rush hour, the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed, plunging vehicles 60 feet into the river and killing 13 people.
There is usually not much about infrastructure stories to turn readers or viewers on. But the catastrophe in New Orleans and the bridge collapse in Minneapolis are tragic evidence of the peril that goes hand in hand with neglect of the nation’s roads, bridges, levees, transit systems, water treatment facilities and so on.
Just two weeks before the Minneapolis bridge collapse, an underground steam pipe in Midtown Manhattan exploded, sending a geyser of filth and asbestos-laden debris into the air. A woman fleeing the scene died of a heart attack, and the area suffered millions of dollars in economic damage.
In South Carolina, where candidates of both parties competed in recent presidential primaries, there is a long stretch of grievously neglected rural schools that has been dubbed “the corridor of shame.” Some of the schools are more than a century old. Among the many problems are ancient plumbing, inadequate heating and sewage that backs up into classrooms, bringing in vermin and terrible odors.
The country could do itself a favor by paying more attention to the efforts of Senator Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat who is chairman of the Banking Committee, and Senator Hagel, a Nebraska Republican. They have co-sponsored legislation that would create a national infrastructure bank to promote and help finance large-scale projects across the nation.
Part of their mission is to generate a sense of urgency. In an interview yesterday, Senator Dodd told me: “At a time when we’re worried about rising unemployment rates and declining confidence in this country, infrastructure projects have the dual effect of putting people to work — and usually at pretty good salaries and wages — while also creating a sense of optimism, of investing in the future.”
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