In the wake of the Minnesota bridge collapse, Ross Douthat wants to. A few observations:
Road-building is a national disgrace. It`s corrupt — Mayor Daley`s closest buddies in Chicago are the road-builders who finance his campaigns in return for enormous contracts—and thus the quality of our roads intentionally stink, wearing down our cars and lowering our gas mileage. They`re supposed to fall apart because that puts more money in campaign donors` pockets. Roads in Belgium are made to last 40 years, in Chicago 12 years.
The more densely populated the country gets, the harder it is to build infrastructure because of Not In My Backyardism, which increases with the number of backyards. There will never be another freeway built in Southern California, even though the population is expected to climb sharply, because land is now so expensive.
Compared to 1950, it takes forever to build anything these days, largely because of environmentalism, but every activist has his hand out too. To finish the Century Freeway to LAX, for example, CalTrans had to payoff hundreds of "community" organizations, including an AIDS group in West Hollywood, ten miles and two freeways to the north!
The simplest way to slow the worsening of the population-to-infrastructure ratio is to cut back on immigration, just as it`s also the simplest way to lessen the increasing stress on other problem spots, such as public schools, inequality, and health insurance. Instead, what we constantly hear is: "Oh, no, all we have to do is fix the public schools [inequality] [health care] [or various other problems that we have no likelihood of ever coming up with a magic bullet fix for]."