Infrastructure and the Ability to Live Collectively
For years we have been hearing how about the need to address our crumbling infrastructure, as our investment has shrunk from 3 percent of our gross domestic product in the early 1970’s to less than 1 percent today.
After the collapse of the levees in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the London Mirror noted that we were witnessing the “humbling and crumbling” of America. Two years later, 13 people were killed by the tragic collapse of the I-35 Bridge connecting Minnesota’s Twin Cities, but we shrugged it off.
John Oliver has sounded the alarm bell, but nobody on Capitol Hill is listening.
Now we the tragic train derailment in Philadelphia, which could have been prevented had deployment of positive train control systems technology not belayed but budget cuts. Rail travel in the United States struggles through such as issues at the same time when other countries are breaking records for rail speed. Yet days after the Philadelphia tragedy, House Republicans voted for further cuts.
The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik, cites English historian Tony Judt on trains as the “symbol and symptom of modernity,” and modernity at its best. “The railways were the necessary and natural accompaniment to the emergence of civil society,” he wrote. “They are a collective project for individual benefit … something that the market cannot accomplish, except, on its own account of itself, by happy inadvertence. … If we lose the railways we shall not just have lost a valuable practical asset. We shall have acknowledged that we have forgotten how to live collectively.”
As the materials below indicate, we are paying a steep price for a failure to heed these warnings, but the Republican Congress apparently does not believe in investing in America.