Originally posted by Robert Reich
We still don’t know what caused the Amtrak train derailment that left at least seven dead and many more injured. It could have been human error. But other nations have sophisticated public transportation systems that minimize the consequences of human error. We don’t. Perversely, a Republican House panel yesterday approved a measure to cut funding for Amtrak.
The bigger story is that the nation’s backlog of maintenance on infrastructure is huge and growing, according to the American Society of Structural Engineers. 45% of households lack access to public transit. One in 9 of America’s bridges are structurally deficient. Of the 84,000 dams in the U.S., 14,000 are “high hazard” and 4,000 are deficient. 42% of the country’s major urban highways are considered congested, and 32% of major roads in the U.S. are in poor or mediocre condition. There are 240,000 water main breaks in the U.S. each year, and many water mains and pipes are over 100 years old.
Why are we letting our infrastructure fall into such disrepair? We’re the richest nation in the world. But much of that wealth is now in the pockets of people who have lobbied hard to keep their taxes down. Moreover, we spend more on our military than the next 10 biggest economies put together spend on their militaries (including Russia and China).