Crumbling Infrastructure – or Crumbling Cliché?
Democratic US presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg unveiled an infrastructure plan that magically settled on the same trillion-dollar price tag that candidate Donald Trump announced in 2016. But is America’s infrastructure really so bad?
SAN DIEGO – America’s infrastructure has been crumbling ever since George Washington crossed the frozen Delaware River on a leaky boat. That seems to be a bipartisan “truth.” And every four years, presidential candidates remind us of the claim. Most recently, Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg unveiled an infrastructure plan that magically settled on the same trillion-dollar price tag that candidate Donald Trump announced in 2016.
But is America’s infrastructure really so bad? After all, Amazon has figured out how to deliver everything from bananas to cough drops within hours of a customer’s click. No one could do that in George W. Bush’s era, much less George Washington’s.
It is a mistake simply to count up potholes and rusty rivets on bridges and then declare a crisis. In fact, the Department of Transportation reports that the number of bridges deemed “poor” has fallen by 22% over the past decade. Regardless, we should be assessing what I call “infrastructure load,” and instead ask whether more goods and services are being delivered on time.
We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.
To continue reading, subscribe now.
Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.
Already have an account or want to create one to read two commentaries for free? Log in