Thursday, August 2, 2007


I am always amazed when I consider what a wealth of blessings have been left to us by those who went before us. Think of how much money it took to build the interstate highway system, the NY subway, the thousands of public libraries and public schools. All we have to do is maintain them. I look at the library on my campus, and the thousands of volumes of books still there that some other taxpayers provided for us. Now, it is up to us to add the new volumes that make it a usable collection, and we balk at it.

The words "crumbling infrastructure" just took on new urgency with the collapse of a major bridge in a major city. The collapse of levees in New Orleans was of course an even bigger disaster, but we could comfort ourselves that this was some kind of 100 year flood, an act of God that could not be anticipated. But when bridges have a series of reports indicating that they are in bad shape, and nothing is done, it is our own fault. Our parents paid taxes to build these things. If we don't want to go back to the day of ferry boats and dirt roads, we have to pay whatever it takes to maintain our physical infrastructure.

Business people cry about taxes, but the infrastructure those taxes support is what makes their generation of wealth possible. There are smart people in the backwaters of Brazil too, but without good infrastructure (and a good legal system), ideas and hard work won't make you rich. Everyone pays taxes so that everyone can live better. And when we don't our infrastructure inevitably falls apart.

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