It was interesting to hear the President give the annual State of the Union address last week. As anticipated, he urged us to invest in three things: infrastructure, education and research. These concepts come on the heels of the rare visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao. During that visit, we learned that the Chinese military has advanced faster than we anticipated, that Chinese students score the highest grades in the world in every subject, that the Chinese spend 12% of their GDP on infrastructure every year, that they build 22 km of new high-speed rail every day, and that the Chinese economy grew by 12% last year. We also learned that the Chinese economy will be the world’s largest by 2035, 15 years ahead of when it was anticipated. There are more honor students in China than America has students in school.
The visit by President Hu should scare us. It is a foreshadowing that America won't be the greatest for much longer. And remember if you thought you were one in a million, there are 1,500 of you in China!
So yes, we had better invest in infrastructure, education and research and we better do it immediately. Surveyors are one of the groups in this recession that have been hit the hardest; so I can only imagine that surveyors will cheer on this news. Unemployment for surveyors averages 50%.
Now we need to make this happen. No we don’t need bailouts, we don’t need “stimuli”; rather what we need to do is find the funding to make this happen and yet simultaneously, appease the budget cutters becasue our debt is too high. Cut military spending (more drones and IT, less tanks and battleships). Reform our military into one that effectively deals with terorism and reduce the parts that are geared toward fighting other countries. Reduce some of the entitlements and then use these savings to rebuild America. Redirect the unemployed toward helping to build the infrastructure rather than having them sit at home for two years collecting $600/week as they do in NY and NJ.
Why has it come to this? Why do we have to rebuild anything? Why didn’t the stewards of our existing infrastructure keep it maintained in the first place? Why are they not held accountable? Why did some of the Obama money last year go toward repairing roads, when we already have budget items for road repair? Where did that money go and why is no one asking this question? We have been paying our taxes, the government just has not spent it wisely.
Most of it went to prop up the government employee headcount. Having 20 students in a class hasn't made our children any smarter adn having one policeman for every 1,000 residents hasn't made us safer. These rules need to go out the window and the government needs to stay within its budget.
Purchasing to improve worker productivity has all but stopped in order to save people’s jobs within the government. Technology investments have essentially disappeared in order to save their jobs. Spending for student books and supplies ended in order to redirect that money toward saving teacher's jobs. Stimulus money intended to bring back laid off teachers instead went to give raises to remaining teachers. Corporations used the bailout money to acquire their competitors, improve their profits and force their existing workers to work even harder. Wall Street stocks are at an all time high, the Dow Jones is near 12,000!
So yes it is egregiously late to announce that we need to spend money to rebuild our economy and I dread that the naysayers will try to convince their constituents that this is a bad idea. I just regret that it is many years too late. If we invested the Iraq and Afghan war money into these items 10 years ago, our infrastructure would be world leading, every student would have had college paid for (as in other countries) and our research would bring us to the brink of yet more breakthroughs. Instead, we have nothing but debt to show for our efforts, thousands of dead American troops, a failing infrastructure from fighting a war we couldn’t afford and our students rank 24th
in the world. We accomplished nothing with these wars; Osama bin Laden is still out there, unscathed.
This is an example of absolutely wretched leadership. Our congressional leaders now want to "Cut Wasteful Spending" but remember that this wasteful spending was created on their watch. Now they are going to cut the wasteful spending that THEY CREATED! Oh well, I say “better late than never”; infrastructure, education and research, bring it on. Who could reasonably argue that these are not the right things for America and that they need to be done now?
Originally posted by Harry Ward on Jan 24, 2011 9:14 AM EST; Updated on Feb. 1