Route 66, America’s “mother road,” was built in large part by the federal government. This includes funding going back to the Federal Aid Road Act of 1916 and the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1921. In the 1930s, Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt put thousands of unemployed young men to work completing Route 66. Likewise, America’s Interstate Highway System was constructed pursuant to the 1956 National Interstate and Defense Highways Act envisioned and signed by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower. All of this federal highway construction has brought about tremendous benefits for Americans, from commercial to recreational, and it could not have been done without politicians from all sides participating in Good Government for patriotic reasons.
Today, however, we live in a time where one political party, the Democrats, believes in Good Government, but the other party, the Republicans, believes in No Government. That’s one reason why America has no long-term infrastructure bill to fix its roads and bridges, and instead Congress merely passed a paltry, short-term, patchwork highway bill that only takes us until next May, while it just took off for another month-long taxpayer-paid vacation. How short-sighted and unpatriotic!
The Republicans’ No Government rhetoric sounds attractive at first blush, because it allegedly costs less, especially in terms of promised tax cuts for individuals and businesses. The reality, however, is far different. We know that No Government still means lots of government, such as an absurdly bloated military budget. We know that when Republicans are in power, they spend as much or more as Democrats, only they don’t pay their bills. We know that those Republican tax cuts primarily benefit the wealthiest Americans, while the rest of us get stuck with the bill.
The party of No Government also ignores the tremendous benefits of having first-rate roads and bridges, and the huge costs of letting them fall into disrepair. American businesses from Amazon to Apple to UPS depend on good roads and bridges to move their goods safely and efficiently. Road and bridge repair reaps the win-win benefit of thousands of good construction jobs. American commuters also need those good roads and bridges to get to work in a reasonable amount of time (they also need good public transportation and fast trains, but we’ll save that discussion for another time). And Americans who work hard and cherish their leisure travel time or their family visits, as well as businesses located at tourist destinations, depend on those good roads too.
The pathology of privatization won’t build or maintain our valuable federal interstate highway system. Only Americans coming together with a sense of patriotism and Good Government can do so. America’s infrastructure is too big and too important to fail.
Photo by Xomiele, used under Creative Commons license. http://is.gd/GrXvyq