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.”