How to stop the next Sandy

David Cay Johnston with a comprehensive look at how we should be rebuilding infrastructure:

If we are to avoid the next major -catastrophe—and it will come—then we have to start paying the bill now. America spends just 2.4 percent of its economy on infrastructure, compared with 5 percent in Europe. In Germany, the roads are smooth. In France, city halls do not have buckets to catch water from leaky roofs. In Italy, the trains actually run on time and serve surprisingly good meals in the dining car. And in the Netherlands, where existence depends on maintaining the sea gates and seawalls that hold back the North Sea, since much of the nation is at or below sea level, people feel safe from flooding.

Both Cuomo and Christie have built reputations for holding down taxes, but Sandy seems to have given each man an opportunity to do what’s right instead of what’s politically expedient. Christie, breaking with Republican dogma, said that taxes may have to be raised to pay for repairing damage from Sandy, especially in coastal towns. And both governors have promised to marshal the popular support and money needed to make physical improvements in utilities, roads and rail lines, bridges and water systems, and to work to improve telecommunications during emergencies. Achieving all this is likely to mean higher rates for electricity, natural gas, telephone and Internet service, and water, as well as new taxes to pay for making sure highways are more road than pothole.

The governors’ staffs tell Newsweek that much of the money to repair, restore, and rebuild must come from Washington. In this, they are echoing the words of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has been a Democrat, a Republican, and who now calls himself an independent.

Bloomberg says the issue goes beyond storm damage to whether America wants to keep up with the rest of the modern world or fall behind. “We need the federal government to adopt and fund a comprehensive infrastructure strategy—from transportation and technology to energy and environmental protection—that positions the U.S. to lead the global economy for decades to come,” the mayor tells Newsweek.

“You cannot build a skyscraper economy on a foundation designed for a farmhouse; it will collapse under its own weight,” he adds. “We’ve already started to see some of that—and unless Washington acts soon, the country is going to pay a terrible cost in lost jobs, lost lives, and lost opportunities for the next generation.”

3 Responses to How to stop the next Sandy

  1. imhotep November 20, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    Cut the defense budget by 50% ($350 billion each year) and reassign that money to infrastructure building and this problem will be solved. Any dumbass can get elected to Congress in a district drawn so that only a Republican or a Democrat will win it. Which is why our Congress is full of dumbasses. Corrupt, bought and paid for dumbasses, but dumbasses just the same.

  2. Hopeful November 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    Or better yet, stop building homes on beaches that will be wiped out EVERY time have a hurricane on the shore.

    You should not build infrastructure where it will be destroyed, again and again…

  3. Tom November 20, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    i have no faith in any decision-making by humans. Zoning laws are influenced by greedy builders who don’t care about flood planes and most people don’t by flood insurance because it’s too expensive.

    Let’s face it we’re idiots who don’t learn from our mistakes and we’re doomed to extinction because of our “design flaws” of hubris, greed, stupidity, “magical thinking” and “politics.” Though we possess powerful brains we aren’t very wise and misuse all the great gifts we’ve developed – math, science, language – they’re all used in wrong-headed ways by humanity to make life miserable for the many so that the relative few can play “god” (though it will lead to our extinction, we glibly go along for the ride enjoying our little role in civilization).

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