We are a nation of crumbling bridges, pot-holed roads and leaking water mains.
Meanwhile, gleaming new skyscrapers go up for the wealthy and well-off (with some idiot's name on top).
The majority of Americans every day confront endless deterioration of the infrastructure that makes life doable and safe to do.
The taxes are paid and the money exists for these necessary things to be maintained
Yet, the option often seems to be the glitzy and the visible instead of the steady, boring and required.
Some goofy fountain that shoots a column of water 300 feet into the air instead of safe drinking water?
And is that fountain periodically replenished with drinking water?
And not always are the taxes paid.
Tax increment financing (TIF's) are supposed to be relaxations of tax laws to favor investment in communities that need it.
Often these are vacuumed up by the large corporations that need it least. Walmart is one particularly egregious offender.
Boeing got a $10,000,000 TIF for its executive washrooms in Chicago.
That $10,000,000 might redo five hundred city blocks of water mains that benefits 1,000,000 people instead of one corporation.
That TIF for Walmart flows straight to their bottom line as profit.
And they would build the store anyway.
Without the tax money to repair water mains, they will continue to sit there and rust.
When they are repaired, the cost of repairing them in large part is repaid by ending leakage. The balance is paid by monthly water bills.
Those watermains have lasted over one hundred years and likely they'll last another one hundred when maintained.
That Walmart will be dingy in twenty years and as the community deteriorates from lack of infrastructure,
Walmart will move on leaving a vacant eyesore.
Often, infrastructure pays for itself.
In Cahokia, Illinois on Route 157 near the Old Log Cathedral was a rail crossing.
This was the Illinois Central Line in previous times, three tracks wide.
It is the primary north-south corridor from Chicago to New Orleans. Heavily traveled.
Bear with me for a back-of-the-envelope calculation.
An overpass was built over the tracks. Nothing fancy. Two earthen ramps connected by a concrete platform on concrete pillars.
I would imagine it cost about $5,000,000 to build.
Now imagine five trains per day stop twenty-five cars in each direction (often as many as one hundred).
Imagine an average of two people per car. Imagine they wait ten minutes for the train to pass (the statutory limit and who believes that).
That's 60,833 man-(or woman)-hours lost per year.
If the nominal value of those people's time is $10 per hour (disregarding children's time), That is "lost" time equalling $608,333 per year.
In 8.22 years that bridge has paid for itself. After that it is pure "profit" for the community.
Those earthen ramps should last ten-thousand years and the bridge can be refurbished every fifty years.
Not only that, but of the $10,000,000 spent on the bridge, twenty percent came back to the state and feds as taxes
collected from workers and companies almost immediately (income, sales, property).
If one uses the "velocity of money" theory (and assigns a velocity of six),
the taxes collected from the wealth created by the bridge pay for the bridge the first year.
Over-estimating? Okay, halve our expectations. By the end of the second year it's paid for.
The gratification and gratitude is IMMEDIATE for every driver as they approach and see a train approaching as well.
Which begs the question- why aren't we building infrastructure to increase our efficiency and well-being as a nation?
Because we are investing our tax dollars for corporations instead of for our citizens- and NO corporations are not people!!
And an equally great and compelling component of infrastructure building is
that it creates GOOD jobs.
Jobs in construction, iron-working, concrete, machinery building, machinery operation, steel industries, and on and on!
What are we waiting for?
This is simple, everyday common infrastructure. It improves everyone's quality
There is another kind of infrastructure.
This one looks grandly to the future.
Other nations have already done it to resounding success. It is called High Speed Rail.
It will benefit travelers, the environment, the workers who build it, the steel companies, Caterpillar and John Deere (two Illinois stalwarts).
Caterpillar not only makes earth-moving machinery, it makes locomotives and switches (in Alorton, Illinois in the 12th).
It will pay for itself. (See link).
It could be argued that this will hurt the airlines.
Already the airlines apply political pressure to limit the number of cars on the high speed (misnomer) train between St. Louis and Chicago.
How can that be legal or correct?
Maybe high speed rail will rationalize a continuously bankrupt industry and make them concentrate on long haul routes over oceans.
It is common knowledge that trains have some difficulty on oceans.
Besides, we heavily subsidize them with airports already.
And foreign, subsidized carriers which steal jobs use those airports as well.
You won't see foreign trains (Rail India?) shoving aside the "City of New Orleans".
Won't it hurt Boeing? Let me think...
Doesn't Boeing make aluminum, light-weight cylinders that are extremely safe that hurtle through the air at high speed?
Maybe they could make a variant with wheels? Duh? Or go bankrupt for missing a golden opportunity?
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