What will it take to convince our political leaders that investing in infrastructure is investing in our future? Today in The Wall Street Journal MarketWatch comes yet another pessimistic report. How pessimistic? All you have to do is look at the first paragraph:
“If America’s prosperity depends on its roadways, the future looks pretty tough.”
Normally we don’t just quote articles verbatim, but this one is worth taking a look at (How to fix crumbling U.S. roads, rails and airways): Here are the first few paragraphs as a teaser:
After more than a decade of declining tax revenue in the United States, highways are crumbling, rail lines are overburdened and airline corridors are congested. Factor in the economic weakness, the public’s tax-cutting mindset and geopolitical instability, and an already shaky situation looks ready to worsen for commerce, jobs and several industries that are crucial for transportation infrastructure.
Analysts are pessimistic about the U.S. transportation system making progress. There isn’t enough money to maintain what the country has right now, much less to get to quality levels that are giving other nations a competitive advantage.
“Substantial under-investment won’t affect the economy in the short run, but productivity will be affected in the long run,” said Gus Faucher, an economist with Moody’s Analytics. “People will be stuck in traffic more often, stuck at airports longer, and that lost time adds up over 10, 20 years.”
It will also mean higher transportation costs, whether rail, trucking or shipping, and that will make American-made goods more expensive overseas and less competitive, Faucher said.
Today U.S. infrastructure investments amount to 2.4% of the nation’s GDP, versus 5% in Europe and 9% in China, according to a data from the World Economic Forum.
“Long term, that’s going to hurt our economic position in terms of freight movement and maintaining the viability of our metropolitan areas,” said Peter Peyser, managing principal of Blank Rome Government LLC, a lobbying firm.
Is there any cause for optimism? What do you think? Please comment.