Any real estate agent will tell you, “If you can’t invest and maintain your own property then it degrades, and so does the neighborhood.”
For the past few years, I have been flying small planes over parts of the country. It is amazing to see the how we have built out our country. It is piece meal and an unplanned hodge podge of suburbs, malls, industry and farms and roads that go all around them. No real thought or care for the land or nature and how we can best use them.
Compare this to flying over Europe and you see mid density towns separated by open space and farms with rail and road network connecting the towns. It is beautifully laid out and planned. European towns have worked for a couple of millennium and will continue to work thousands of years more.
What’s distressing is that the USA’s suburban sprawl is so costly to build out and support, as compared to most of Europe which is cost effective and has lots of resilience in its design.
Now add the problem of the U.S. government’s continual under investment into infrastructure (even with the Stimulus package) compared to other parts of the world. Europe is currently investing a robust 5% of its GDP in infrastructure — more than double the paltry 2% spent by the U.S. And this is not a new trend. Infrastructure investment in the U.S. hasn’t risen above 2% of GDP for more than 30 years.
How can we maintain our standard of living and keep a viable economic engine, if we let our basic infrastructure crumble? Given the financial crisis we have, how are we going to find more to invest into the basic needs of our physical plant? We are going to have to dig deep to figure out what we really want as citizens of this nation in need. I hope we have it in us.