Infrastructure as social security

USA President Obama has proposed $50 billion additional spending for infrastructure upgrades. This is not nearly enough.

According to James Fallows

The American Society of Civil Engineers prepares a “report card” on the state of America’s infrastructure—roads, bridges, dams, etc. In the latest version, the overall “GPA” for the United States was D, and the cost of bringing all systems up to adequacy was estimated at $2.2 trillion over the next five years, or twice as much as is now budgeted by all levels of government. In 1988, the comparable study gave an overall grade of C, with many items getting B’s. Now, the very highest grade was for solid-waste systems, at C+, or “mediocre.” Roads, dams, hazardous-waste systems, school buildings, and public drinking water all received a D or D–.

According to Jeremy Grantham, discussing the economic impact of the increasing median age in the USA,

So what can you do to prepare even modestly for a shift in population mix? […]

Step 1. You can make sure that the infrastructure is as up-to-date as it can possibly be to minimize any unnecessary load on future workers and taxpayers so that no unnecessary maintenance costs have to be paid. In such a sensible world, the roads and bridges are sparklingly well maintained, with many of them new. The schools, water, and energy transmitting systems are as modern and efficient as can be. Obviously, we have totally failed on Step 1. We have not even discussed that our aging population makes this policy extremely desirable. We enter the new difficult world of an aging population profile perhaps as badly prepared as possible, with huge unpaid maintenance bills, the worst in modern times. Our infrastructure is sadly neglected even by our own earlier standards, with poor public transportation, decrepit bridges, etc., etc., etc. It’s as if we expected a great and immediate increase in the worker bee percentages, which is the complete opposite of reality.

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