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Thursday, Feb 14, 2008, 10:59 am

Infrastructure, finally…Really?

By Brian Cook
I share Adam's sentiment in the post below, but I gotta say that I find Obama's plan pretty symptomatic of what's been disappointing about his campaign in general. I mean, I'm glad he's talking about how dilapidated our infrastructure is, and, at first blush, $60 billion over 10 years sounds like a decent amount of money, but compared to what actually needs to be done, it's chicken feed.

Three years ago, the American Society of Civil Engineers put out their Report Card for American Infrastructure, that examined the country's aviation, bridge, dam, road and water systems, among other stuff. Their overall grade? Let's just say that the U.S. is like that really stupid kid in your 4th grade class, who you kinda despaired over because he wasn't even a jock. The ASCE's overall grade was a D, and that was factoring in a charitable "Incomplete" for Homeland Security and C- for our Rail infrastucture, which strikes me as a gift.

More to the point, ASCE suggested that we need to spend $1.6 trillion over the next five years to upgrade our infrastructure to "Good," of which $540 billion must come from completely new funding. By my calculations, that means Obama is suggesting that we spend almost nine times less than that, and that we spread out that pittance over twice as much time.

It's a start, but let's not kid ourselves. That's about all it is.

Brian Cook was an editor at In These Times from 2003 to 2009. He now works on the editorial staff of Playboy magazine.

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