Reuters published the text of Obama’s jobs speech; I’m struck by and heartened to see him use the word infrastructure, as Rachel Maddow has also often mentioned. Personally, I’ve been waiting for Obama to get around to the subject. Anyone who’s ever driven through the U.S. knows precisely how terrible many of the roads are; by contrast, many of the highways in Ontario tend to be better maintained (although many Ontarians would vehemently disagree; the GTA has roads that look like minefields, truly, but the main highways are much better) despite the cold winters that distend asphalt. As everybody knows, in the States long stretches of interstate remain not only broken but patently dangerous, unfixed for years.
That, folks, is infrastructure.
How about spending decent amounts of money on public transit? Back in Pittsburgh, the Port Authority’s getting ready for yet another fare hike while cutting service to outlying areas, at the same time building a light-rail extension to the North Shore. That last part’s lovely; the rest isn’t.
That last part is infrastructure.
Pres. Obama talks rightly about weatherizing; despite Jon Stewart’s take from the other night, that warmth leaving your house in winter is the equivalent of burning your cash in the fireplace. You might as well. (I bet Jon Stewart’s place is winterized)
There’s more, obviously, but let’s just take roads as one example. Road projects mean jobs—contractors, laborers, office workers, more—and once those roads are brought up to date (complete with all the bells and whistles associated with contemporary road design, like weather sensors, real-time traffic cameras, the whole lot, because why not? Don’t drivers deserve it?), they can accommodate more traffic. Say you have the power, and expand a four-lane interstate to eight, or twelve; you’ve just relieved a congestion problem. People get around more quickly. Say you simply fix the road; you’ve just cut down on all manner of expense for the drivers who use it. Or say you finally have the money to adequately fund your mass-transit system; you’ve now taken cars off the roads altogether as people now can consider mass transit as an option. Note: I’ve been a mass-transit fan all my life, and have long believed that most U.S. cities spend nothing near what they should on their systems. Chicago’s is largely excellent, though, and New York’s is breathtaking considering its reach, and they’re models for every other city. Yes, it can be done. And just consider all those jobs….
Pres. Obama’s speech is a good beginning, albeit late. It’s the right idea.