OUR VIEW: Get on with infrastructure work


Herald & Review editorial board

The discussion about the United States’ crumbling infrastructure has been going on for decades. We’re long past the time to get on with the work.

Can we nitpick over the amount of money committed to the infrastructure agreement? Certainly. But had we quibbled more over the trillions spent (and yet to be spent) on 20 years of military action in Afghanistan, we might be in a very different world today.

Americans have an interesting relationship with infrastructure spending. We generally agree that it needs to be done. When we see the end results of any building, we’re generally content and sometimes even impressed.

But Americans also really dislike the idea of paying for that work. That dissent is curious

Some citizens see state dollars spent on local projects they find frivolous and they see the very definition of a boondoggle. But one person’s pork barrel project is another person’s community improvement. As we’ve asked in this space for years, “Would you rather see that money go to Chicago?”

Those asking that question aren’t wrong. But that’s not the debate we’re having now.

The bottom line of the debate has to be an agreement that the infrastructure bill benefits all Americans. And if it benefits someone in South Dakota at the expense of a Californian, well, thanks everybody. We are trying to live in a society internally and in a changing world. If we want to show the world that the United States still matches all the positives we were projecting in 1960, this infrastructure bill puts that idea on the fast track. (No pun intended.)

Remember, the finances of infrastructure are circuitous yet ongoing. Better roads mean improved commerce. A farmer uses the road to get his crops to the next place they need to be, and goods made from those crops can be on a grocery store shelf within hours. To be purchased by people using the store as middle man. Each of those steps includes jobs people must fill.

Other portions of the bill will address long-term issues such as broadband and the electrical grid. Interstates and some bridges in the United States are in poor condition. Water/sewer systems and public transport are dismal in some places. This is a concern for both life and quality of life.

The perception of the infrastructure agreement must be changed from implementing a socialist agenda to what it actually would be – the United States’ long overdue reward to itself, a plan that can improve lives.

Is inflation a concern? Certainly. Inflation hit the United States hard in the aftermath of Dwight Eisenhower’s infrastructure spending from 1956 forward. Our present inflation rate is a 13-year high. But inflation has been held relatively well in check since the 1980s, so maybe we’ve learned plenty, and the current challenges are part of a wide economic adjustment in a post-COVID world.

One of our goals should be to do what we can to protect our citizens as they use an infrastructure on which everything is based.

Jul.26 — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding firm on her plan to hold up a bipartisan infrastructure package until the Senate delivers a larger Democrat-only reconciliation plan. Bloomberg Government’s Emily Wilkins has more.

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August 20, 2021 at 08:45PM

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