December 24, 2008
-- by Dave Johnson
Tom Friedman wants to know why America has fallen so far behind the rest of the world in keeping up our infrastructure.
Landing at Kennedy Airport from Hong Kong was, as I’ve argued before, like going from the Jetsons to the Flintstones.In 1981 we stopped asking the richest to pay taxes. To pay for that the country started borrowing, deferring maintenance and cutting what the citizens get from the government.
. . . The next day I went to Penn Station, where the escalators down to the tracks are so narrow that they seem to have been designed before suitcases were invented. The disgusting track-side platforms apparently have not been cleaned since World War II. I took the Acela, America’s sorry excuse for a bullet train, from New York to Washington. Along the way, I tried to use my cellphone to conduct an interview and my conversation was interrupted by three dropped calls within one 15-minute span.
So yes, we stopped fixing things, and now everything is breaking. You didn't notice this before now?
There was another effect of this huge tax cut for the rich. By changing tax policies to let people keep fortunes made in a single year everyone started trying to make a fortune in a single year. Business became entirely about making as much as you can as fast as you can instead of building up solidly over time. Theft at the top became rampant. Everything became schemes. Manufacturing went away because it was easier to make a quick buck from schemes...
Friedman's solution? Use the Obama stimulus,
It has to go into training teachers, educating scientists and engineers, paying for research and building the most productivity-enhancing infrastructure — without building white elephants. Generally, I’d like to see fewer government dollars shoveled out and more creative tax incentives to stimulate the private sector to catalyze new industries and new markets.In other words, back to where things were before Reagan.
Posted by Dave Johnson at December 24, 2008 9:48 AM
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