US needs infrastructure; US needs jobs; a simple proposal
August 17, 2011
Let's face it... the US is stuck in an unemployment rut. US corporations are piling up profits but not investing it in new jobs; "demand is low, and we can't trust being able to borrow again," they cry. Demand will remain low while regular folks don't have money to spend, and if our experience with the last bank gambling addiction meltdown is any experience, the government will always be more than ready to leap in and save so-called "too big to fail" firms.
At the same time, US infrastructure is crumbling, receiving a dismal score of D from the American Society of Civil Engineers. These are projects that have been put off time and again; "we can't afford it," cringe self-appointed "deficit hawks." When can we afford it? When we've waited so long that people are sickened, injured, and killed by failures in our roadways and waterways? The longer we wait, the greater the human toll -- not to mention, in a more cold-hearted view, the greater the financial toll. Waiting to fix something until it is completely broken always costs more, not to mention that the costs of hiring people for infrastructure repairs during a good economy will only be more costly than if we do it now, during a period of high unemployment.
And thus, a simple proposal: let's directly create jobs, now, by rebuilding American infrastructure. The budget will begin to take care of itself if the economy improves, and the economy will only improve if there are jobs. Corporations aren't willing to create new jobs in the current environment, so we need to prime the pump, as it were -- a "New New Deal" won't be likely to employ every unemployed American, but creating a substantial number of jobs will inject money into the economy that will create the demand companies are waiting for.
Is it fiscally irresponsible if we have to plunge the US even further into debt for this? No. In fact, it is fiscally, not to mention socially, irresponsible not to be fixing America's infrastructure. If we were honest with ourselves, the cost to be working on such a fix should already be part of the debt we owe -- it is an unavoidable cost that only grows the longer we put it off. Additionally, if we pay down this looming infrastructure cost now, we get the added benefit of a shot to the arm of our economy now, right when we need it most.
In these tough economic times, lots of us look for big 2-for-1 sales. America's got one such opportunity right in front of it; let's take it.