This is why we can’t have nice things

Gin and Tacos:

We have numerous examples of major pieces of infrastructure literally crumbling around us – our power grid, the water and sewage systems in our major cities, our highways and bridges, and even our slowest-in-the-world internet/telecommunications network – and yet all anyone can do is whine about taxes, get hard-ons for austerity, and wonder why everything isn’t repaired to their liking.

Federal funds for highway and bridge projects come from a gasoline surtax, one which hasn’t been raised (not even to meet inflation) since Bill Clinton raised it an astonishing four cents in 1996. Since raising taxes is, you know, completely off the table, states have had to repair an aging and increasingly creaky highway network with a pool of money that, in real terms, is shrinking annually.

We are very much a country clinging to faded glory, and I don’t think there is a better symbol of where we are right now than dilapidated Cold War era bridges. They’re falling apart and all we can do is fill comment sections with bitching and moaning about big government, tax-and-spend libruls, and how the problem would already be solved if the government didn’t spend so much on (insert thing that does not directly benefit the person using this rhetorical tactic). When we finally take time out from congratulating ourselves on being the #1 super-greatest country in the history of the world to recognize that, frankly, this place is turning into kind of a dump, it will already be too late.

3 thoughts on “This is why we can’t have nice things

  1. Great article: hits the nail right on the head and it’s all true. What’s even more frustrating is that we ALWAYS have the money to spy on us all, build new prisons (but not schools), bomb the shit out of our growing list of “enemies” and wage war all over the place. What do we do as a country to improve things, besides enriching the top 1% every goddamn day?

    This is all part of the collapse of civilization that’s at the beginning stages right now. We have already had decades of warning from the environment – and this year was really loud and clear – but we aren’t paying any attention and continue our pollution of the biosphere. Between the population (we overshot the planet’s carrying capacity long ago), our pollution (especially CO2 and now methane too) causing climate change that’s all too visible, the economic contraction (due to the gross misdistribution of the wealth to the top), resources becoming ever more scarce, and too many guns and bombs – we’re headed for the perfect storm of cataclysm in the not too distant future.

  2. It’s a myth that gas taxes come close to supporting infrastructure maintenance in the first place. A quick google search reveals: “SAFETEA-LU, which is the guaranteed minimum funding for highway, safety, and public transportation for the 2005-10 period, totals $244.1 billion (averaging $40.67 billion per year). In the past few years, spending levels have actually not been fully supported by fuel taxes, requiring the federal government to transfer money from the general fund every year to make up the difference.”
    The same people complaining about the state of our roads (the bridge issues often are not as visible) often also seem to be the ones arguing for more lanes to “relieve” traffic congestion. Our highway system is overbuilt — who will stand up in Congress and argue that we abandon or dig up roads or lanes we can’t afford to maintain? Won’t happen. But more and more responsibility for roadways is being pushed down to the states and municipalities, who ultimately will have to make that decision.

  3. Well, maybe our overlords realize that pretty soon we won’t need roads because there will be no jobs or supermarkets to drive to anyway.

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