INFRASTRUCTURE: the foundational components of a system

Infrastructure is a word that refers to the basic design components which are composed in a system, whether it be an organization or a transportation system.  As used most recently, it has come to mean the roads, bridges, sewer systems, water systems, and other components which support our country.   The prefix infra is a French term, generally known to mean “beneath” or “below.” It is not difficult to comprehend its use in this case.

The reason that the word infrastructure has been so commonly employed over the past few years is partially political, partially economic, and partially pragmatic.

  • The legislation required to repair, restore, or build the infrastructure of this nation has been (too often) tied to gaining projects for one’s legislative district, thus bringing in federal or state money to areas which are struggling economically.
  • The freeing up of money for infrastructure repair or construction has been (too often) tied to ideological positions legislators take on spending and one’s perspective on how spending or cutting of spending affects the national economic picture.
  • It doesn’t take an engineer to look around and see that many of our bridges, roads and other elements of the infrastructure are crumbling.

While other nations in the global economy have embraced massive projects which have enhanced their personal, business, and employment situations, the United States has quibbled about ideological matters that delay or deny the need to move forward.  I have been particularly impressed with the spot ads on MSNBC hosted by Rachel Maddow which point out that this has not always been the case for our country.  The construction of the Hoover Dam, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Interstate Highway System are dramatic examples of government-formulated projects which were future-thinking and have proven to be increasingly-significant additions to our nation.    They also provided much-needed employment at a time of depression and economic crisis.

Our nation’s hesitancy to create such projects NOW is unconscionable.

  • the need for employment of massive numbers of people could not be more obvious
  • the danger of crumbling infrastructure systems is expensive and will only continue to be increasingly-expensive
  • the United States has the capability of funding such a progressive agenda

So what is keeping us from moving forward on a federal infrastructure project?

  • small-mindedness
  • political maneuvering to affect the 2012 elections
  • fear and cowardice

It would not only be appropriate, but it is urgent, that the President and Congress embrace a massive, expensive and forward-thinking program to repair and replace the all-too-visible elements of a crumbling infrastructure. The employment of millions of Americans in the project would be uplifting and could restore the psychic energy of a depressed and discouraged nation.

Granted, such a progressive move might well be dangerous politically.   Spending has been characterized as evil and foolish by a segment of the population and they could reject such a program when they step into the voting booth.  But that is not a reason NOT to do it.   The costs of such a program would be underwritten, to some extent, by the income taxes which would re-generate; the income related to purchasing of material for the projects; and the increased manufacturing and secondary industries required to sustain such a program.

It is a win/win situation.

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