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Crumbling Infrastructure Symbolizes U.S. Economy

Articles & Blogs - US Commentary

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Like most people, I was already aware that the infrastructure of the United States was rapidly decaying. However, seeing some hard numbers actually quantifying the severity of this problem was nothing less than shocking.

Remember all of that “infrastructure spending” which was (supposedly) part of the stimulus package, which in turn supposedly led to a “U.S. economic recovery”? It never happened. Just like the supposed “recovery” itself, it was nothing but smoke-and-mirrors. No recovery, no investment in infrastructure. Only the debts from all that “stimulus” were real.

In fact, while the U.S. government was pretending to be attending to its neglected infrastructure, the U.S.’s global ranking for the quality of its infrastructure was plummeting lower. A Reuters article reveals that in a mere four years (from 2007 to 2011) the U.S.’s ranking fell from #6 to #16.

Keep in mind that building infrastructure is a slow, long-term commitment. Thus being able to fall ten places in this ranking in a mere four years is a mind-numbing demonstration of negligence and mismanagement. To suffer a plunge of this magnitude while claiming to be focusing on infrastructure investment is an indictment of the saturation-level of deceit of this government. Obviously it’s only a matter of time until more U.S. bridges start falling down.

U.S. government negligence in this area appears even more appalling when compared to other parts of the world. While the U.S. propaganda-machine continues pummeling Europe with its fear-hype over the “Euro debt crisis”, Europe is currently investing a robust 5% of its GDP in infrastructure – more than double the paltry 2% spent by the U.S. And this is not a new trend. Infrastructure investment in the U.S. hasn’t risen above 2% of GDP for more than 30 years.

The European statistic can be viewed in two ways. For those with a bullish outlook, Europe is literally “paving the way” for future economic growth with this high level of infrastructure investment. For the bearish, this high level of investment represents an area where large budget cuts can be achieved without immediately impacting the level of public services. Thus (at least in this one respect), European “austerity” is not an exercise in inevitable economic suicide.

Conversely, the U.S. position can only be summed-up as “totally screwed”. The $trillions in new debt and money-printing which was supposed to “fix” the U.S. economy has all been wasted (most of it stuffed into the vaults of Wall Street banks). Now, like all deadbeats who have exhausted their credit, “austerity” is coming to the U.S. – whether it likes it or not. With an economy starved for legitimate investment, “prescribing” austerity for this economy is like a doctor telling a patient with severe anemia to go on an extreme “diet”: it is a terminal sentence.

Across an ocean, China is investing a stunning 9% of its own GDP into infrastructure investment. The U.S. media relentlessly publishes one piece of fiction after another about all the supposed “bubbles” cropping-up in China’s economy due to “over-building”. The reality however is that with China’s overall economy growing at near double-digits, with its domestic economy growing at nearly a 20% rate, with rapidly rising incomes, and a massive manufacturing “engine”, this is an economy which can easily “grow into” all of this new construction.

In contrast, the U.S. is an “old” economy, with no growth, massive debts, and it is literally falling apart. To make a terrible situation worse, its hopelessly dysfunctional government has demonstrated itself to be nothing but a cacaphony of squabbling children. When Rome was burning, it is said that the Emperor Nero merely “fiddled” – oblivious to the flames around him. However, as the United States “burns”, Republicans and Democrats both watch with glee – with their only objective being to try to blame the other side for this economic suicide.

In turn, this is the obvious consequence of having a completely “broken” political system, with most electoral districts so severely gerrymandered that roughly ¾ of all these districts no longer have “elections” (in any meaningful sense). Instead, in most of these ridings the U.S.’s political aristocrats are simply appointed for life. When your own “seat” at the trough is guaranteed for life, you can abandon trivial considerations like “good government”, and focus completely on what is “really important”: making the other side look bad.

Instead of the U.S. government being composed of 500+ “public servants”, all working to provide the best government possible, Americans have elected a somewhat different group: 500+ assassins – all scheming to “murder” the U.S. economy (and then “plant the evidence” on their opponent).

This specific catastrophe highlights a broader theme which constantly appears in my own writing. The U.S. (like all other Western economies) is suffering through the worst revenue crisis in its history. To remind readers (yet one more time) this was the inevitable consequence of our governments collectively squeezing-dry the bottom-85% of their populations – while refusing to tax the top-15%.

Those on the bottom have nothing left to squeeze out of them. Meanwhile, those on top are hoarding $10’s of trillions – larger hoards of wealth than what were accumulated by the Kings and Queens of the Middle Ages. Not only are those hidden, hoarded $trillions the literal “life-blood” of our economies; without beginning to tax-back those massive hoards of wealth it is mathematically impossible for any Western nation to return to solvency.

In the particular case of the United States, we see a totally broken economy – which immediately requires massive expenditures in infrastructure, education, and other areas of social/economic investment. At the same time, it is just beginning to see the baby-boomers holding out their hands – looking to collect more in “entitlements” than any other generation in history. Anyone with an intellect greater than that of your average “Tea Party” Republican knows you cannot address these massive, structural revenue deficits with “austerity”. Indeed, proving that they “just don’t get it”, Reuters reports that a phalanx of these economic Neanderthals are looking to reduce U.S. “transportation funding” – the primary source for infrastructure dollars.

At the state and local level, U.S. governments have already started laying-off vast numbers of teachers, police officers, and firefighters – just so they can continue to make interest payments to bond-parasites. No debt is ever paid-off in this perpetual economic slavery. Meanwhile, at the national level, U.S. political “leaders” stand by and watch the country fall apart, because the ultra-wealthy aristocrats who bought them have decreed that it is better for the entire nation to (literally) fall apart than for them to pay their “fair share” in taxes.

God bless America!

Comments (10)Add Comment
Jeff Nielson
written by Jeff Nielson, August 21, 2011
Earl, other than "chain-gang" labour, I don't know what sort of "plan" these idiots could possibly have to hold their corrupt system together.

Most likely, there IS no plan - simply a bunch of political PIRATES doing as much "looting" as they can.

As we all know LOOTING is an activity only permissible for those on top...
written by Earl, August 21, 2011
In early 2000, I worked for a city water/sewer department for a town of 800 (water meters). Peak property revenue, state grants. A decaying pipe system (40 years old, galvanized pipe). Lift stations which defy gravity to the sewer plant, had 40 year old pumps.

What did these "council politicians" do. Built three parks (which have to be maintained), and pave the roads.

Nothing like tearing up a new road to put a $7.00 clamp on rotted pipe.

Of course the parks all have names- of local politicians.

As for the lift stations, well five figure repairs every other month and they raise the water rates.

The parks are nice, when a crew can mowe instead of tending to a water leak/road repair.

There's no money in the budget for a second mower.

Gotta love that "inmate" labor now-
But that's another topic.
Jeff Nielson
written by Jeff Nielson, August 19, 2011
Mr. Paladin, I'm afraid that your data is flawed. First of all, the number you are quoting is in no way a NET figure. It doesn't include ANY of the U.S.'s "unfunded liabilities" (in fact "net wealth" for the people being counted in that statistic is a large NEGATIVE number).

Second, it counts little (if ANY) of the wealth held by those ABOVE the "Buffetts" and the "Gates". Are you REALLY going to claim that you know the "net worth" of the Rockefeller clan?

Lastly, who said anything about a 1% wealth tax. The figure I used was 5%. And given the 100 years of PLUNDERING via income taxation (which the ultra-wealthy have engaged in), it's quite possible that our now-insolvent governments might need to impose a TEMPORARY surtax (of a few more %) on any/all wealth holdings above (for example) $2 million.

The bottom-line is that there is only ONE SOURCE of "new revenues" for our bankrupt, revenue-starved governments: the $10's of TRILLIONS which the ultra-wealthy have previously plundered.

Precisely how this wealth is gradually taxed-back is purely a question of ARITHMETIC, the conceptual validity of my proposition is unequivocal.
written by MrPaladin, August 19, 2011
After a little searching, apparently $50 trillion is total USA private wealth, and the top 1% owns 38% of that, which equals $19 trillion. Taxing that at 1% per year is only $19 billion (if I have my zeroes straight), which wouldn't make much of a dent in our national debt, would it?... smilies/smiley.gif
Jeff Nielson
written by Jeff Nielson, August 18, 2011
MrPaladin, PLEASE, if I ever claimed to possess such information I would be INSTANTLY targeted for "silencing"!

As long as people keep PRETENDING that Bill Gates, or some Arab oil-sheikh, or some other BILLIONAIRE is the "world's richest person" rather than some member of the Rothschild clan, then obviously we have no idea of PRECISELY who has how much.

Here's what we DO know. Sovereign governments are NET DEBTORS, totaling in the $10's of TRILLIONS. Corporations are net-debtors. The poor and middle-class (at best) have near-zero net worth.

WHO is holding those $10's of TRILLIONS in IOU'S????

Keep in mind that those PAPER assets only represent a PORTION of the paper holdings of the ultra-wealthy. Then there are all of their MATERIAL assets.

One would have to CONSERVATIVELY estimate the combined fortunes of the ultra-wealthy as some number in excess of $100 TRILLION.

P.S. Note that I'm talking about GLOBAL numbers. These people have no national allegiances of any kind, so there is no way of estimating how much of that $100+ TRILLION is "American".
written by MrPaladin, August 18, 2011
Could you provide specific stats as to how much wealth the top 1% actually has? Assuming a population of 300M, I'm particularly interested in the wealth of the the 3,000,000th person from the top.

Jeff Nielson
written by Jeff Nielson, August 17, 2011
BigDad06, what's so important is to get people focused on WEALTH and not INCOME.

First of all, taxing "income" (instead of "wealth") is the most unfair, inefficient form of taxation possible.

Secondly, in determining WHO needs to pay more taxes, it's not how much someone is EARNING, but how much they are HOARDING.

If we start taxing WEALTH, we DISCOURAGE people in hoarding wealth. However, when we tax INCOME, we discourage people from earning INCOME - the WORST possible thing you can do to a capitalist economy (from a tax perspective).

So not only do we need to START "targeting" wealth, we need to STOP "targeting" income...
written by Bigdad06, August 17, 2011
Great article! Hopefully the population changes the definition what it means to be rich since more and more people want to tax the rich. Right now according to Obama, if you have a household that brings in more than $200k per year your considered rich. Now anyone who lives in California will tell you that $200k is nothing with the high cost of living we have in this state. Besides with all the money printing going on, if hyper-inflation ever takes hold, we will all be rich! At least then maybe we will be able to pay our tax bills with $10,000 notes! LOL!smilies/cheesy.gif
Jeff Nielson
written by Jeff Nielson, August 17, 2011
Thanks for the observations DayOwl.

The opposite way to look at your first observation is that there is little NEED to make it easier to move around, since "the poor" NEVER have much mobility - since they simply can't AFFORD to travel, and there are going to be ever-growing numbers in this category(lol).

The obvious rebuttal to such a glib retort is to note that PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION is the form of infrastructure investment which improves "mobility" for ALL economic classes. And as you note, the U.S. has been ESPECIALLY negligent in this area.

As for observation #2, U.S. poll results show that your attitude has FINALLY filtered-down to the broader population - and the VAST MAJORITY of Americans are now in favor of taxing the rich. ONLY the elected ARISTOCRATS (in their ivory towers) continue to remain oblivious to this reality (and of course the very-wealthy, themselves).
written by DayOwl, August 17, 2011
Observation #1: Freedom of Movement is being attacked and subverted on many levels. Airline travel (TSA, no fly lists), autos (cash-for-clunkers, cafe standards), roads (crumbling), and barely functioning public ground transportation (thanks to Government Motors). De-mobilizing the populace seems to be high on the agenda.

Observation #2: The MSM keeps publishing articles claiming that "taxing the rich won't work". Ri-i-ight, taxing the poor is working soooooo well...

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